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It’s that time of the year again. What time, you ask?

That time where we celebrate Top Echelon Network’s birthday!

On Sunday, March 8, the Network turns 32 years old. March 8, 1988 was the date of the first issue of The Pinnacle Newsletter. (So this is also the Pinnacle’s birthday.) Top Echelon founder Mike Kappel sent out that first issue of the newsletter, and he did it via snail mail. Of course, that’s because there was no Internet 32 years ago.

Last year, we published some facts about the year 1988. For posterity’s sake, I’m listing them again, courtesy of the website In 1988, the:

  • Number-one pop song was “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.
  • Number-one movie was Good Morning, Vietnam.
  • Median new home price was $108,900.
  • Price of a new car was $13,761.
  • Price of a gallon of gas was 96 cents.
  • Price of a loaf of bread was 59 cents.

Five years ago, we published a Pinnacle article titled, “27 Little-Known Facts About Top Echelon on Its 27th Anniversary.” I’ve included five of my favorite facts below:

#1—Before the invention of The Internet, the Network employed a group of people to read and blind every resume it received (via “snail mail,” of course) and then place them in the appropriate bin in our office. There were approximately 350 to 500 resumes every day.

#2—We were once involved in an unfortunate laundromat incident in which the laundromat . . . blew up. One of our employees went to hospital, the fire marshal pronounced us guilty, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paid us a visit, and our Worker’s Compensation bills went up.

#3—A convicted con artist once stole our corporate identity and collateral materials, and bilked some of our customers out of money. We hired a private eye to gather information, which was delivered to the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s office . . . and helped send the guy back to prison.

#4—The online sharing software for Top Echelon Network was called the “Recruiters’ Exchange,” or “Rex” for short. A red dinosaur with a tie and briefcase was created by the marketing department to represent and promote Rex.

#5—At one time, the websites that we built for recruiters were called The Shrimp Boat, The Dingy, and The View From Shore. (Don’t ask.)

You can view all 27 little-known facts by clicking here.

And last, but certainly not least, we want to recognize Charter Member Steve Brody of Executive Resource Systems. Steve has been with us since the very beginning. During his 32 years as a member of Top Echelon, he’s made 117 placements and billed over $774K through the Network.

So congratulations to Steve, who started recruiting in 1982, for both his longevity and success as a Top Echelon Network member!

And congratulations to everybody who is a member of our recruiting network right NOW! Without you, there would be no Top Echelon, no Network, and no 32nd birthday.

Now let’s cut the cake!

Last week in The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog, we discussed how there are seven million job openings in the country and a lack of candidates to fill them. That’s exactly why we advocate using the Network Candidates sourcing tool (formerly known as the MEGA Database).

And members of Top Echelon’s recruiting network ARE using the tool and they ARE making more Network placements!

You can see evidence of that at the end of this blog post, where we chronicle a recent split between members Mike Burk and Trey Cameron.

As we’ve mentioned before on more than one occasion, there are millions of job candidates in the Network Candidates sourcing tool. For those of you who may not know, the Network Candidates tool allows Top Echelon Network members who use the Big Biller recruiting software to share information more quickly and easily.

However, if you’re a Network member and you don’t use Big Biller, you can still use this special sourcing tool. There is just one caveat. While you can perform searches in Network Candidates, your information will not be included in searches conducted by other Network recruiters. The reason, of course, is because your data is being housed in an applicant tracking software other than Big Biller.

So, let’s summarize as follows:

  • If you have Big Biller, then you can conduct searches in Network Candidates and your information will be included in searches conducted by other members.
  • If you do NOT use Big Biller, then you can still conduct searches in Network Candidates, but your information is not included in searches conducted by other members.

Below are two other important facts regarding the Network Candidates tool:

  1. Resumes are blinded! That means nobody can see your candidates and/or take them and run.
  2. There is NO additional charge. It is included with your split network membership.

Below is a video that explains the Network Candidates sourcing tool in a more comprehensive fashion and how you can use it to make more placements in the Network:

So what does the new Network Candidates feature offer? The following, among other things:

  • For starters, you’ll search in one place for your candidates within the Network software. Specifically, you’ll click the “NETWORK” tab in the search results to see what’s available in terms of the over four millions candidates to which you have access.
  • Multiple state location searching
  • Filters: Most Common Locations, Education Levels, Resume Add Date, and the top five recruiters representing data in the list
  • More information to make a determination regarding which candidates to request:
    • Current Position Title
    • Location
    • Parsed skills from the resume
    • Display of past work history position titles and the number of years/months in those positions
    • Summary on the candidate

The new Network Candidates is a powerful sourcing tool. More Network, members are making split placements with this tool, and so can you!

— — —

Mike Burks of T. Burks & Associates

Mike Burks

Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group

Trey Cameron

“Nice to get a placement with you!”

Submitted by Mike Burks of T. Burks & Associates regarding his Network split placement with Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group


Fee Percentage—20%

(Editor’s note: This is the first Network split placement that Mike and Trey have made together in Top Echelon.)

We’ve written numerous times about the return that Network recruiters can earn on their investment in Top Echelon. In fact, what follows is our standard argument.

The monthly membership dues for Top Echelon’s recruiting network is $130 per month. Over the course of a whole year, a recruiting agency would pay $1,560 in dues.

Let’s say that same agency makes one placement in the Network during the year. Let’s also say the fee for that placement is $20,000. Top Echelon takes 6% of that total as its brokerage fee, which is $1,200. That means each recruiter will now split $18,800. Some quick math tells us that’s 9,400 per recruiter (or per agency).

Theoretically, that agency paid $1,560 in membership dues over the course of a single year. That was the agency’s monetary investment. The return that it received on that investment was $9,400.

Pay $1,560, receive $9,400. That sounds like an acceptable return on investment (ROI). But what do Network recruiters think? Well, we decided to ask them:

How many splits per year give you an acceptable return on your TE investment?

The choice of answers that we provided is listed below, along with the percentage of split network recruiters that selected each one:

  • One — 30.0%
  • Two — 20.0%
  • Three (3) — 14.0%
  • More than three — 20.0%
  • I receive an acceptable return even when I don’t make a split. — 10.0%
  • I’m still looking for my acceptable return. — 4.0%

What about YOUR investment?

Nearly a third of recruiters participating in our poll agree with us! That’s because 30% said “One.” But wait, there’s more. Another 10% indicated that they receive an acceptable return even when they don’t make a placement.

That means 40% of poll participants believe that one (and sometimes zero) placements in any given year is an acceptable return on their investment in TE.

Another 20% of recruiters rose the bar to two placements. Then another 14% jacked it up to three. But then we have 20% of members who believe they must make more than three split placements in a single year to receive an acceptable return. Not a surplus return, but an acceptable one.

And alas, there’s the 4% of recruiters who stated that they’re still looking for their acceptable return.

What about YOU? What do you consider to be an acceptable return on your investment in our split fee recruiting network?

If you have questions about this (or you haven’t seen your acceptable return yet), please contact Director of Network Operations Drea Codispoti, CPC/CERS. You can do so by calling 330.455.1433, x156 or by sending an email to

Communication is one of The Four Pillars of Top Echelon’s recruiting network. It’s a key element for success in the Network, regardless of whether you’re an importer or an exporter.

Let’s go one step further: quality communication is one of the ways that recruiters make the most split placements together.

Poor communication does NOT result in more splits.

I say this for a reason: every once in a while, I notice a pattern of poor communication within TE. However, it doesn’t involve communication between recruiters.

It involves communication between a recruiter and a candidate—more specifically, a Top Echelon Network importer (the recruiter with the job) and a candidate supplied by an exporter (the recruiter with the candidate).

The candidate KNOWS the exporter

Here, in a nutshell, is the problem: the importer is NOT referencing the exporter when first contacting the candidate.

Why is this a problem? It causes confusion, doubt, and suspicion in the candidate’s mind, as well as in the exporter’s mind.

The importer has a much better chance of getting their phone calls and emails returned when they reference the exporter. By doing this, the importer has created some commonality with the candidate, which eliminates confusion in the candidate’s mind.

It also eliminates suspicion in the exporter’s mind, since they know that the importer referenced them up front. This lays the groundwork for a much better split recruiting relationship.

So . . . when you don’t reference the exporter in your communication with their candidate, that can be costly. You could very well be costing yourself the opportunity to make a split placement with that exporter. (And neither of you could even be aware that the opportunity was missed.)

Goodfellas Recruiting and Bald Guys Search

With that in mind, below is a good template for what to say when contacting another recruiter’s candidate. You can add your own personal touch, of course.

“Hello, my name is Drea Codispoti of Goodfellas Recruiting. I’m currently working with Mark Demaree of Bald Guys Search to fill the position of Loose Ends Elimination Specialist. I’d like to speak with you regarding this position and ask you some additional questions.”

Quality communication pertains to ALL communication—with other recruiters and also with other recruiters’ candidates. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, delays, and other complications that can get in the way of making more split placements. Your time is far too valuable for such obstacles.

Identify yourself and reference the exporter when contacting their candidate. Make this a habit and you’ll notice how much easier the whole recruiting process will become.

If you have any questions, please contact me by calling 330.455.1433, x156 or by sending an email to