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Management Buzz 06/02

A treaty for copyrights and the benefits of using a headhunter

Copy & Robbers

Protecting your company's creative works--whether software or music--from theft is a good thing. So entrepreneurs should be embracing the World Intellectual Property Organization's Copyright Treaty. The treaty allows you to protect copyrighted creations using technologies that limit access. As a practical matter, however, the treaty won't affect your business much immediately. The reasons are twofold. First, according to Jay Dratler Jr., the Goodyear Professor of Intellectual Property at the University of Akron School of Law, Japan and the United States are the only industrial countries who have ratified the treaty. That will change with time, but market conditions will still limit your ability to use the treaty's protections. "Competition makes it harder for small companies to sell highly restricted versions of their works," says Erich W. Merrill, Jr., a copyright attorney at Miller Nash LLP in Portland, Oregon. "They simply don't have enough of a reputation to impose limitations that the customers don't like." As so often in business, what looks good on paper doesn't mean much in reality.

Hire Hiring?

The recent recession forced plenty of qualified workers onto the employment market. Even with the plentiful pickings, however, you might want to hire an executive recruiter to act as an intermediary between you and potential hires. "People apply for all kinds of jobs they're not qualified for when they're desperate," says Barbara Reinhold, the director of career and executive development at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. "Employers are pulling their hair out weeding through the piles of resumes."

Headhunters perform this service-for a fee. That's why Brent W. Habig, CEO of 100-employee New York City technology firm Tigris Consulting, relies on them only for senior positions. Even when he uses a recruiter, he negotiates so he doesn't have to pay top dollar. "You can get [the fees] down to as little as 10 percent [of the hire's annual salary] if you negotiate hard enough," says Habig. "You've just got to do it upfront, not when you've already found the person.

"Given the dramatic shift in the labor market, we need to be very careful about who we're hiring," says Habig. "We don't want people who are looking for just any job in our space. We want the right fit so that the company builds strong retention."

Even though Habig plans to hire 25 people this year, he will not be using headhunters to find applicants for the majority of the junior staffer spots he'll need to fill. He's dedicated a full-time employee to recruiting for those positions. "It's [that person's] job to get those people in without paying [headhunter] fees," he says.

Habig uses an internal referral rewards program to identify potential candidates for significantly less than a recruiter's fee-a tactic that Reinhold says is catching on. "It guarantees that somebody in-house will have a vested interest in that person succeeding," she notes.

Still, Habig recognizes the benefits that executive recruiters provide. "They have a broad network of top talent," he says, "especially those people that might not be seeking a position right now."


Business writer Chris Sandlund works out of Cold Spring, New York.

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This article was originally published in the June 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Management Buzz 06/02.

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