Dear Miss Deed,

I just got my pocket picked. It wasn’t just some loose change, it was $20,000. Here’s what happened.

I talked to a doctor about one of my clients. The doctor liked what I told her and agreed to let me submit her CV. I excitedly called my client, described the candidate’s background and revealed her name. Then came the crushing words from my client, “I already have her name from another firm.”

When I spoke to my candidate, I was very specific in asking whether she knew of the practice and even revealed the name of the town to her. No other firm had described the opportunity to her and she had not given permission to any other firm to send out her CV.

Twenty thousand dollars is a huge amount of money to me. Can I get even? Can this be stopped? Can I make a claim for the $20,000 if the doctor takes the job? I am…

Fit To Be Tied

Dear Fit:

The quick answers to your questions are: No, Yes and Maybe. For these somewhat abstruse issues, I will elucidate.

First, getting even might make you feel good and, while many of us have longingly wished for some cleverly disguised way of doing this, it is not an avenue you should consider. (See my answer to your third question for possible relief.)

Second, stopping this practice is certainly possible, but cooperation is essential (in a perfect world). The culprits in this nasty game are the recruiters who choose to abandon their conscience and commitment to their pride in their profession and in-house people who do not understand the impact of the money at stake and who choose to allow recruiters to abandon the basics of the industry.

Ending this execrable practice can in part be accomplished by more aggressive reporting of the incidents to the Ethics Committee for investigation and possible action. Another deterrent is for the in-house professionals to ask the recruiter, “Has the physician clearly given permission to present this CV?” Clearly the in-housers are the gatekeepers and enforcers who, through aggressive diligence, can make significant progress in shutting out these unprincipled recruiters.

Third, you cannot per se make a claim for the money, but you can seek resolution through arbitration if the offending recruiting firm is a member of NAPR and they are willing to consent to both the arbitration process and the outcome. Unfortunately, these reprobates are rarely willing to do the honorable thing.

I am sorry, there is no sure-fire solution with a quick, feel-good outcome; however, I do know some people in New York…

Yours truly,
Miss Deed





Dear Miss Deed, 

I have a signed contingency agreement. Recently, I spoke to a candidate I thought would be a good fit for my client. The doctor gave me permission to release his CV, so I emailed it to my client. When I called to follow-up, my client was upset with me for sending the CV without calling first. I was upset and surprised because, although this was the first time I did this (honestly), I had a valid contract in place which I thought allowed me to send qualified candidates. I am not sure whether I am more angry or hurt.

Yours truly,
Offended For Sure

Dear Offended, 

You should be neither angry nor hurt, rather you should count your lucky stars that your client did not file an ethics complaint against you.

A signed contract with a client does not allow indiscriminate and extemporaneous referrals to them. You may think the “get ‘em and send ‘em” approach may be cool and harmless, but it is clearly against the rules.

According to the Code, a client must first request the referral so the name can be “cleared.” This protects the client from becoming embroiled in a fee dispute between two firms or more. We would have anarchy if all the firms who have a legitimate contract in force randomly sent candidate names and did not first call the client to “clear” the name. I know there are clients who prefer that you send the name with the understanding that you will politely wait for their acknowledgement that you have indeed found a candidate not previously known to them. Easier for them and you maybe, but not kosher.

Calling the client and verbally presenting the name to consummate an approved referral may be slower, but it is the NAPR way, which makes it the only valid way. Contracts only create the opportunity to make the referral; verbally contacting the client to “clear” the name legitimizes the referral.

The Code of Ethics does not allow for “illegal” shortcuts. This is still a people-to-people business and talking on the phone, at least for the initial referral, is the best way to be sure your referral is valid. I think you dodged a bullet, so mending your errant ways will not only make me so very proud of you, but it will also save you considerable grief from your fellow recruiters who may have been inadvertently thwarted by your illicit referral.

Miss Deed





Dear Miss Deed, 

I filed an ethics complaint against a NAPR firm. It was a straightforward violation in which the candidate neither gave permission, nor was aware the offending firm presented her curriculum vitae to a client. To top it off, the curriculum vitae was sent to the client without first clearing the name. Both the doctor and the client will corroborate the facts.

I am 100 percent sure the Ethics Committee will find against the firm; however, I just learned that, rather than respond, the firm resigned from NAPR before the Ethics Committee rendered a decision.

What happens to the complaint now? If anyone calls NAPR Headquarters in the future to find out about the firm, what is their status and what will Headquarters say?

Yours truly,
No Satisfaction

Dear No Satisfaction, 

Good question! In fact, what you raise here is addressed in the Code which requires the Ethics Committee to continue its investigation and render a decision. If the Committee finds that the infraction of the Code warrants a sanction of probation of six months or more or either suspension or expulsion then NAPR Headquarters must state the organization "resigned , not a member in good standing." 

I had a more vivid and poetic response, but Headquarters mentioned something to me about not compromising the exalted level of adulation I receive, so I'll go with what the Code dictates.

Yours truly, 
Miss Deed



Dear Miss Deed, 

I thought I'd seen it all, but how about this one?!

My contingency client, a hospital, sent me a memo telling me they will pay our fee, BUT I must get the candidate to agree that the amount of the fee will be considered income to him and a 1099 issued to him in his name if he accepts their position.

The Code of Ethics says that it is a violation if a candidate pays the fee. Am I in trouble?


Dear Stunned, 

Good grief! I have never seen this before.

Good news! You are not in violation of the Code because the candidate is not, in fact, paying the fee. He is only responsible for any income taxes that could result from the additional income being added to his gross income.

I must add if your doctor takes this job under these conditions he is either the most desperate candidate in the Western Hemisphere or you are a smoother talking son-of-a-gun than that good-looking fella heading up Ethics at the NAPR.

Love ya, 
Miss Deed





Dear Miss Deed,

I am with a recruiting firm and I have successfully worked with a group practice for several years. We have an excellent relationship, but I may have made a serious mistake.

I recruited an internist to join another in the group. They did not get along. The internist I just recruited called me to say he was unhappy and could I help him find another job.

The group administrator found out and called me. She was angry because I was helping the dissatisfied doctor find a job. I had a good relationship with the doctor and was only trying to help him.

What did I do wrong? I am . . . 


Dear Baffled,

Where should I start? I call this “back door” recruiting. It is a great concept. While you are making placements with a client, you secretly recruit doctors away from the client. Theoretically if you play your cards right, you will only need one client because if you keep the timing right for each doctor placed, you can recruit one away. It is like perpetual motion.

The problem is, clients tend to get upset and more importantly NAPR strictly frowns on this activity.

In fact, the Code of Ethics is very clear about not allowing this. Basically as long as you have a financial relationship with your client (defined as having made a placement on a contingency basis within the past 12-month period) you cannot recruit a doctor away from them. (If you have a retained relationship, the same applies.)

However, there is one loophole. That is, if the doctor has publicly announced that he or she is resigning, then you are immune from this section of the Code of Ethics. Obviously the doctor you were working with was confidentially seeking another job. This puts you in significant trouble.

I think we need to talk.

Yours Truly, 
Miss Deed





Dear Miss Deed,

I work diligently to screen my candidates. I am careful and conscientious in obtaining information about my clients so I can clearly and accurately portray the opportunity to my candidate. I identify my client's name and location and ask the candidate if anyone has spoken to him or her before I call my clients.

Recently, and in ever-increasing frequency, when I call my client to clear the name, I am told they already have the CV. Sometimes the client reveals the other firm's identity. I am frustrated and disgruntled.

Yours truly,

Dear Disgruntled,

As you know, physicians in the scarce specialties are being overwhelmed with calls from recruiters and often do not pay much attention to the recruiter who gives minimal information and then sends their CV out to one client or several for that matter. (We do know that some recruiters send CVs first, get the client's confirmation of a need, and then call the client.) Clearly the latter is a violation of the Ethics Code, Section IV, A., 4. regarding unsolicited referrals. This section, however, allows for multiple CV send-outs if the candidate has given permission.

In terms of the candidate's lack of knowledge or failure to remember that his or her CV has been sent, the Ethics Code has little jurisdictional authority without smoking-gun proof that the offending firm sent the CV without the candidate's knowledge or permission. Unfortunately, because physicians are not individually members of the NAPR, the Ethics Code has no jurisdiction. 

I realize this may not be the answer you are seeking honey, but it is the best I can do until we can get those son of a guns to join the NAPR.

Miss Deed





Dear Miss Deed,

I spoke to a doctor, told him about my client's job opportunity, got his permission to submit his curriculum vitae, prepared the email and called my client to let her know the good news that I had a candidate for her only to find out she already had him. Since the doctor didn't know anything about my client, I asked how this could happen. My client said that she has worked with the referring firm a long time and the recruiter just sends in the CVs.

Does a long-term relationship with a client change the rules?


Dear Unclear:

No! While it's nice to have the kind of relationship you described the other firm has with your mutual client, it is definitely a violation of the Ethics Code and unfair to other recruiters (such as yourself).

The Code is very specific in Section III. A., 4. that unsolicited CVs are verboten (and also unethical). The relationship one has with one's client can never supplant the fact and spirit of the Code. Many firms have long-standing relationships with clients. If the Code allowed for exceptions based on longevity, situations like yours would continuously arise causing chaos and serious ill-will with the offending firms.

Send your client the Code, point out the applicable section and ask her to require all firms to clear the name(s) with her before submitting the candidate. When you've done all this, go out and have a few beers. You done good!

Miss Deed



Dear Miss Deed,

I believe I was the procuring cause for a placement, but Sky Blue Recruiting claimed the candidate because they had him sign a Right of Representation letter. Does Sky Blue Recruiting have a legitimate right to the placement? 

Desperate for a Fee 

Dear Desperate: 

Procuring Cause is an action which sets a series of events in motion which ultimately leads to a placement. If you made a valid referral (got the candidate's permission and cleared the name with the client) then your claim for the fee is valid.

Sky Blue Recruiting's strategy was clever but unethical. A Right of Representation letter signed by a candidate simply asserts that the recruiting firm has been granted formal approval to represent the doctor, usually just to the specific client(s) discussed. It is a helpful tool when
making your case for a valid initial referral when the client has received an unsolicited curriculum vitae on that candidate from another firm.

However, when a valid referral has been made, as in your case, and Sky Blue Recruiting attempts to undermine that valid referral by inducing the candidate to sign a Right of Representation they have in fact, violated the NAPR Code of Ethics, Section IV: Ethical Rules, subsection A, Relations with Clients and Potential Clients, paragraph 16: "A Member shall not utilize a Right of Representation document to supersede another organization’s properly made prior Referral."

Having the candidate sign a Right of Representation after the fact, to create the firm's case for their fee entitlement is clearly underhanded and violates the Code.

Good luck and go collect your fee!

Miss Deed



Dear Miss Deed,

I am a physician and listed my curriculum vitae on the World Job Bank. I received the following e-mail from a recruiting firm: "We have great practices for you around the country. Please tell me where you want to go."

I am annoyed because I took the time to spell out my geographic preference and don't have time to read silly, non-specific e-mails. Do I have any recourse with this firm? 

Yours truly, 
Expected Moore, MD 

Dear Dr. Moore: 

Yes, you do! In Section III, Ethical Rules, subsection D. 4. a., the NAPR Code of Ethics states "additionally, no candidate registered with the World Job Bank, Cooperative Mailing Program or any future member service may be contacted for any purpose other than to present practice opportunities (jobs)". In other words, the firm who contacted you should have described a practice(s) or in some way given you details about a job. Because the e-mail failed to describe any aspect of a practice/job, the firm has violated this section of the Code. 

The Code allows the Ethics Committee a choice of several disciplinary actions. Although your annoyance is significant, removing a digit from the right hand of the firm's owner is not one of them. Because this is both a first-time offense and a new section of the Code, the firm will be cautioned against committing future similar violations. 

Miss Deed