free advice:

about us:
Who We Are and Ethics Defined

We are a consortium of highly skilled hands-on Search, HR and Management consultants in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. We have deep relationships with literally thousands in the Bay Area and beyond and we have solved thousands of hiring, software, and business challenges. We know what works and what doesn't, and we have purposefully kept our individual practices lean and quality focused.

We are proud to still be using our real names, and we make quality referrals of other professionals we trust to tell clients the truth and hit the ground running. We act as a SWAT team with the seniority to make every hour count and the ability to ramp up instantly.

We are happy to collaborate with like-minded executive search consultants, recruiters, and management consultants who share our commitment to delivering excellent service in a common sense and cost effective manner. We have found that deep experience separates those that can from those that think they can.

The most important thing to know about us is that we subscribe to a code of ethics developed over time, in reaction to the poor reputation of the search and consulting industries. We want businesses to have fewer nightmares to report and we want every consultant to aim higher (we believe that all of us benefit when everyone behaves professionally).

We believe ethical consultants:

  • take time to know the people and companies they work with;
  • mediate the decision making process, they don't produce it;
  • don't make promises they can't keep;
  • monitor integrity levels and investigate inconsistencies;
  • do not pretend to know things they do not know;
  • will call off a deal at the 11th hour if it is not of benefit to everyone involved (win-win-win);
  • have clients and candidates that work with them again and again;
  • facilitate a "no-surprises-later" environment...they carefully ferret out potential problems, and bring them forward for discussion in a professional manner;
  • are happy to provide references;
    use their real names, with everyone, all the time.

We believe recruiters that do not take the time to deliver this level of service should be referred to as "sourcers" or "researchers" and paid accordingly (25-33% of retained rates, 50% of standard contingency rates.)


Linda Tuerk and Jim Thomas met as rookies at Management Recruiters in 1984. Both Jim and Linda realize in hindsight that they were extremely lucky to be put on the "EDP" and "Telecom" desks 25+ years ago, and shared similar practice philosophies. Jim and Linda began joint marketing in 1992, and formally joined as website partners in 1996.

Linda met John Barry through several mutual clients, after hearing of his high integrity level in the contract services world. Since working with John on several projects, it became clear to Linda that John lives up to his excellent reputation. So we were glad to have him join the site at in 1998.

Since 1996, the purpose of this website has been to encourage the reference checking of headhunters, promote ethical search and hiring practices, and (to be honest) reduce our coaching time on the phone. We have never had any spyware, advertising, pop-ups, cookies, or spam campaigns.

back to top


Linda Tuerk, Silicon Valley Search

Linda is an independent search consultant specializing living and working in Silicon Valley since 1982. She routinely recruits specialists in Information Security programs, Business and Mobile Apps deployment, ERP/Oracle/SAP/CRM selection and implementation, outsourcing and internal expertise strategies, PMOs, Private/Public Cloud management, and CyberSecurity talent requiring government clearance.

She is also the creator and content developer of, and routinely keeps an eye out for other sharp consultants who know what they are talking about and have a strong history of delivery. Linda coordinates all consulting and broader search opportunities that the consortium attracts as well as managing the referral activity for this site, our Facebook page, and Twitter traffic.

Born and raised in Southern California, Linda received her B.A. in Government and Asian Studies from Connecticut College. She spent two years with Merrill Lynch before joining Management Recruiters in the summer of 1984. She was designated the Account Executive of the Year for the Pacific Region, CompuSearch Division in 1987 and achieved Certified Senior Account Manager status before leaving to start her own practice. Independent since 1989, Linda spends most of her time visiting clients and conducting candidate profile interviews face to face, the most time effective way to know all parties involved.

Linda was one of the pioneers of the Hybrid-retainer (partial contingency) fee structure in 1990, and believes hybrid-retainers should be less expensive than contingency fees, since the client is sharing risk. For lean early stage companies, Linda offers flexible hourly services to coordinate competitive recruiting and hiring at the staff level and up, and occasionally works pure contingency searches dependent on circumstances. Linda's statistics include:

100% hybrid-retainer searches have been completed successfully.
95%+ resume submissions continued to face-to-face interviews.
75%+ of first interviews arranged by Linda proceed to the second round, 70%+ second round candidates receive an offer;
93%+ of offers tendered through Linda have been accepted.
100% of her placements have stuck since 1989.

Linda does not store confidential information, corporate or candidate notes, or private comments in the cloud.

Currently, Linda sits on the Business Advisory Council for TransAccess ( in San Jose, and delivers resume and social media networking clinics for the unemployed with disabilities. Formerly, she taught with the Glide Job Skills Program in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, and taught similar classes at San Jose's InnVision . Linda's specialty is helping candidates find the most attractive way to tell the truth, but to always tell the truth, and her coaching expertise spans interview techniques, job retention, and overcoming past histories. She also devotes significant time coaching the unemployed in Silicon Valley, and makes pro bono referrals when possible.

John Barry, Software Images

John Barry started programming in Silicon Valley as a teenager at Saratoga High School, learning basic programming concepts on the school's Wang computer. He taught himself PL/I and Fortran while obtaining computer time using the "beg/borrow/steal" methodology at various locations around the Valley. He obtained his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley in 1978. As a founder, and later President, of Computerac, a time share computer service, John managed both the business and technical aspects of the company for 8+ years. Branching out on his own as Software Images, John delivered the high level of service expected, demonstrated by remarkable repeat business, and frequently bringing a team of top developers with him. His recent assignments include Java development for Innopath in the mobile space, and Bing integration at Yahoo.

His specialties as a programmer, software engineer, architect, and project manager include:

  • Java J2EE (Spring, Hibernate, XML, Web Services, JDBC, JMX, JAAS, Struts, JSP, HTML, GWT, Weblogic, JBoss, Websphere, tomcat), Java desktop Swing applications, Oracle, SqlServer, MySql and MongoDB.
  • Experienced in Manufacturing, Finance, Distribution, Returns, Medical, Advertising, and Mobile Domains

95% of John's clients have asked him to stay past the original assignment.

Since 1996, John has acted as a broker for contract programmers, and has enjoyed the same high rate of repeat business in this recruiting and placement practice. John also provides technical interviewing/screening services as well as general payroll
(W-2) services that include Blue Cross Health Insurance. John has never missed a payroll. You can contact John directly via e-mail:

Jim Thomas, Thomas & Associates

An independent consultant since 1988, Jim specialized in Communications/Electronics since 1984. His clients ranged from Microwave and RF component manufacturers to communications service providers and satellite manufacturers, Government and Commercial. His networks included C-level Engineering, Manufacturing, Operations, and Sales & Marketing, and his clients were based in SiliconValley and Southern California. Jim retired with his wife to a horse ranch in 2007, but we pester him every once in a while for his expertise.

Our Philosophy & Approach, or How We are Different

We Aren't LinkedIn Jockeys and We Don't Work the Boards:

Social Media is a tool, not our life. We are busy maintaining relationships with literally thousands of high caliber people developed over years and years. As they continue to climb, they keep us abreast of the best new talent, teams, and solutions.

  • Scanned By Human Eyes, Humanized! We ask for a simple e-mail explaining your requirements and interests; your request will not enter a database in the cloud; a live human being will read and respond to your inquiry with the appropriate referral in a timely manner.
  • We have a vested interest in treating you well; our business is only as good as our reputation, and we have been at this 25+ years. We are not aggressive arm-twisters, and we will not waste your time with awkward interviews for which you aren't qualified, and most importantly, your resume will not be mailed en masse. We are experienced at handling sensitive situations discreetly.
  • We provide, as you may have noticed, a lot of free advice about how to conduct a job search without a recruiter. If you need additional help, we provide it at a discounted rate on a sliding scale.
  • "Fewer Clients. Less money" is one of our mottos. We have consciously chosen to focus on quality rather than quantity. If we cannot help you, we are happy to make referrals to other firms we have heard good things about.
  • It has always been our contention that a fee should not get in the way of doing what is right, especially when it is right in front of you. We have always done a lot of pro bono work for all salary ranges, especially in tough economies.
  • We Set Introductory Meetings BEFORE Scheduling Multiple Interviews, saving many hours of personal and corporate time in the hiring process. We have all had this happen to us: looks good on paper, sounds good on the phone, but when you meet the candidate, you know in 5 minutes you will not hire him or her. If the candidate doesn't hit it off with the hiring executive, we believe the time investment should be no more than 30 minutes of corporate time. Both candidates and hiring execs have told us how much they like our approach, and so candidates within 50 miles are screened in person by Linda or John.

The Retainer vs Contingency Myth We are neither "boiler-room" operation nor a phone bank of LinkedIn jockeys. We don't just send a bunch of resumes your way hoping one will stick. It is our intent to provide retained search service on a hybrid-contingency basis, and contract services that solve your your problem quickly. We meet everyone we work with in the Bay Area, and know them quite well before introducing them to you.

To Other Search Firms, Recruiters and Management Consultants:

We Want Other Recruiters To Borrow From Us! We believe that if the reputation of recruiters, from temp agencies to retained firms, was improved, life would be easier for all of us. So go ahead and use some of our stuff if it suits you. If you send/print it for your clients or candidates though, please make sure is recognized as the source (it is copyrighted.)

If you like our style, have similar values and a good reputation, we would like to know about you. We want to be able to make more referrals to our clients and candidates for searches and other assignments that complement our bench. We are not talking about conventional splits here; referrals with reciprocal gratuities of 1-10% is the model we are comfortable with. We don't add people to our network indiscriminately and we will want to get to know you.