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Last week, we announced that Network agency Adel-Lawrence Associates, Inc. was recently named one of “America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms” by Forbes Magazine.

What we did not know at the time, though, is that Forbes published TWO lists. One was “America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms.” The other was “America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms.” The difference between the two lists?

The first list ranks 250 professional search firms, which place candidates in roles with less than $100,000 in annual income. The second list ranks 250 executive search firms, defined as companies that place candidates in positions with at least $100,000 in annual pay.

Affinity Executive Search: highest TE ranking

That being said, there were multiple Network agencies represented on BOTH lists. I know this because the owners of those agencies contacted me following the publishing of last week’s article. This does not surprise me because Top Echelon agencies are among the best recruiting firms in the country!

The agency that was highest on either list, though, was Affinity Executive Search. It ranked #64 on “America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms” list. For that reason, we’re putting Affinity Executive Search and its owner, Steve Kohn, in the spotlight.

Rest assured that will well recognize the other firms on these two lists, as well. In the meantime, below is a statement from Steve Kohn, who currently ranks #2 in the TE Top 10.

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Steve Kohn of Affinity Executive Search

Steve Kohn

Recently I received a notification from Forbes that I was #64 in their list of “America’s Best Recruiting Firms 2017.”  I thought it was just a gimmick designed to cause me to pay for my ego (like the “Who’s Who” publication), but then I saw that inclusion was the result of a real poll of recruiting professionals and corporate HR people. That blew me away and made me wonder why people would vote for me. In the end, I realized it all boils down to a single word: trust.

My best clients have told me they use me because I “give it to them straight,” I’m “not slick,” I gave them heartfelt advice when they were previously unemployed and so forth. Not one has ever said they use me because I’m good at this. They use me because they feel they can trust me to be honest and to put their interests first by using every means available (including painfully candid feedback) to fill their jobs regardless of my profit margin. The main way I do that is via Top Echelon.

Top Echelon is simply a miracle: a huge network based entirely on TRUST that has the ripple effect of benefiting thousands of households every year. Ours, our candidates, and the client companies whose entire teams benefit. It’s an amazing thing. The philosopher Alfie Kohn (no relation) teaches that there will always be more success in co-op-etition than competition, and the success of TE proves this. My TE partners have put a lot of trust in me, which is how I’ve paid out over $1 million in splits. I’ve put a lot of trust in them, too, which is how I’ve received over $1 million in splits. We all know about each other’s clients and candidates and nobody even thinks of violating the trust because we all see its value day in and day out.

So, while I’m pleased to be recognized with this distinction and will definitely use it to promote my business to future clients, it’s really a recognition of the value of our amazing network that thrives entirely because of trust. You should all be proud.


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As with Larry, we want to both congratulate Steve and thank him. We want to thank him for his commitment Top Echelon Network and split placements. It’s obvious from his comments above that he believes in the TE system and he believes in his trading partners.

Steve Kohn and Affinity Executive Search have been an integral part of Top Echelon’s recruiting network for more than 20 years. Steve has exemplified the best of what makes the Network great, and it’s our pleasure to highlight his firm’s accomplishment and recognition for proven excellence.

Congratulations, Steve!

Satisfying clients is a top priority for recruiters. That’s the case for a couple of reasons. When you satisfy clients, that means at least two things:

  1. You made a placement. And when you make a placement, you get . . . a placement FEE!
  2. That client is likely to give you more job orders. More job orders means more placements. More placements mean more placement fees. (You see where we’re going here.)

Satisfying . . . all the way around

In this issue of The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog, we have a case study that illustrates how membership in a split fee recruiting network can help with satisfying clients. Here are some of the highlights and takeaways:

  • The job order recruiter (Steve Stern) has made six placements at one of his clients in 2016 using candidates supplied by his TE trading partners.
  • Two of those placements were the result of candidates supplied by the same trading partner (Trey Cameron).
  • These are placements that Steve may very well have NOT made otherwise. In fact, as you can see below, he believes that he might not even have this client if not for his Network membership.

That’s because Top Echelon’s recruiting network helps its members in a number of different ways. There is a variety of value. That value includes satisfying current clients and even landing new clients. Why? Because you have the candidates those clients want, courtesy of your trading partners. And THAT is a winning formula!

If you’re looking to make more split placements in TE, then contact Top Echelon Director of Network Operations Drea Codispoti, CPC/CERS. You can do so by calling 330.455.1433, x156 or by sending an email to

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Steve Stern of Prism Search Partners

Steve Stern

Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group

Trey Cameron

“This is my sixth TE placement at this client this year and the second for Trey here. I never would have been able to produce for this client without joining TE. I’m very grateful.”

Submitted by Steve Stern of Prism Search Partners regarding his Network split placement with Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group


Fee Percentage—20%

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

First placements in Top Echelon’s recruiting network are always a cause for celebration. The reason: you can’t make many until you make one.

We’re celebrating some first placements in this issue of The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog. In fact, we’re celebrating some different kinds.

First placements lead to . . . repeat placements!

The two types of first placements that we’re celebrating are as follows:

  1. The first placement made in the Network overall
  2. The first placement made with a new or existing trading partner

It is possible to work with a trading partner for quite a while before making your first split with them. After all, you can’t fill every search assignment. (Wouldn’t that be nice, though?)

Making placements in the Network is all about relationships with other recruiters. First you build them. Then you continue to grow them. The result? More deals and more revenue.

And once you’ve made your first placements with trading partners, you’ll crave more. That’s why, as the title of this blog post suggests, they’re a thing of beauty!

If you’re looking to make more split placements, then contact Top Echelon Director of Network Operations Drea Codispoti, CPC/CERS. You can do so by calling 330.455.1433, x156 or by sending an email to

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Keith Cornelison of Personnel Resources

Keith Cornelison

Steve Kohn of Affinity Executive Search

Steve Kohn

“This is my first split in the Network, and I appreciate all the effort the Kohns have put in and look forward to many more with them and the rest of the Network.”

Submitted by Keith Cornelison of Personnel Resources regarding his Network split placement with Steve Kohn of Affinity Executive Search, Inc.


Fee Percentage—15%

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

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Ann Boland of The Boland Group

Ann Boland

Patti Mellard of Premier Employment Solutions

Patti Mellard

“Patti Bossert Mellard is a masterful client relationship manager. This is the second non-profit CEO search that she has elected to involve me in, and I’m absolutely thrilled to partner with her.”

Submitted by Ann Boland of The Boland Group regarding her Network split placement with Patti Mellard of Premier Employment Solutions


Fee Percentage—Flat

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

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Rick Christensen of Open Water Recruiting

Rick Christensen

Mike Ehlers of Ehlers Recruiting Partners

Mike Ehlers

“Rick has been consistently great finding sales candidates. We were due, and I’m looking forward to more deals!”

Submitted by Mike Ehlers of Ehlers Recruiting Partners regarding his Network split placement with Rick Christensen of Open Water Recruiting


Fee Percentage—20%

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

Yesterday was the first official day of summer! Or was it the day before? I can never keep that straight. But since summer is here, how about a poll question about recruiters and vacation?

It used to be that just about all recruiters took a summer vacation. In fact, some of them took three whole months off. However, that is no longer the case.

And to help illustrate this “new normal” of the profession, we posted this poll question in the Members’ Area:

How much will you be out of the office this summer?

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

  • Not at all — 25.2%
  • One week — 23.7%
  • Two weeks — 29.5%
  • Three weeks — 16.5%
  • Four weeks — 2.9%
  • More than four weeks — 2.2%

Vacation: all you ever wanted

Believe it or not, over a quarter of poll participants will not be out of the office at ALL this summer. That’s a far cry from the way things used to be.

Not only that, but of those recruiters who will be out of the office, 23.7% of them will only be out for “one week.” Let’s put those two percentages together. Nearly half of our recruiter network members (48.9%) will:

  1. Either not be out of the office at all during the summer.
  2. Only be out of the office for one week.

In a glimpse of good news, the largest percentage in our poll (29.5%) represents recruiters planning to be out of the office for “two weeks.” There’s that, anyway. Then another 16.5% will be gone for “three weeks.”

After that, the percentages (and the absences) drop off drastically. Only 2.9% of poll participants will be out of the office for “four weeks.” And more than that length of time? Just 2.2%.

The days of working eight or nine months out of the year appears to be a thing of the past for recruiters. It could be argued that they still have the option of doing that, but they certainly don’t seem to be taking it.

It appears that “out of sight, out of mind” is the operative phrase in the profession. Recruiters want to constantly be in front of their clients. They want to keep filling their job orders and meeting their needs. If they’re out of office for months at a time, their clients could start giving job orders to somebody else. (Gasp!)

And NO vacation is worth that.

Interviewing is one of the key components in selecting quality contract candidates for your clients. That’s why interview topics are so important.

The questions that you ask can get you and your clients in “legal hot water” if you’re not careful. Certain questions can spur claims of discrimination. Recruiters should be especially careful (and advise their clients to be careful) when asking contract candidates questions regarding certain things.

Below are seven contractor interview topics to handle with care:

1. Citizenship

Ask: Whether they are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

DON’T ask: Are you a citizen? Also, don’t ask for proof of eligibility until after the job offer has been extended.

2. National origin

Ask: Are you eligible to work in the U.S.? Can you communicate well enough to perform the essential job duties?

DON’T ask: Anything about the candidate’s lineage, ancestry, native language, accent, birthplace, or origin of spouse or parents.

3. Disabilities

Ask: Can you perform the essential duties with or without accommodation?

DON’T ask: Any questions intended to reveal details about the disability.

4. Criminal background

Ask: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

DON’T ask: Have you ever been arrested?

5. Personal

Ask: Can you work the schedule required by this job? Can you work overtime? Are you willing to relocate?

DON’T Ask: Are you married? Do you have children? Who would watch the kids while you’re working? Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant?

6. Age

Ask: Do you meet the minimum or maximum age requirement? (This is only permissible if there is a genuine occupational qualification.)

DON’T ask: How old are you? When did you graduate from high school?

7. Religion

Ask: Can you work all the days required?

DON’T ask: What religion do you practice? Do you go to church? What holidays do you observe?

Keep in mind that this is NOT an exhaustive list of contractor interview topics. There are countless touchy subjects when it comes to candidate interviews. If you have any qualms about questions you or your clients are asking, be sure to run them past legal counsel.

If you’d like to add contract staffing services to your firm’s business model, contact Top Echelon Contracting today!

(Editor’s note: This article is intended to give only general information and should NOT be construed as legal advice for specific situations. Please contact your legal counsel before taking any action.)