You May Have Been Given the Business, But Your Grace Will Get You More

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May 17, 2013

Note: This article was first published in Danny Cahill’s newsletter, According to Danny.

Dear Danny,

I’m going to try and explain my situation as best I can because there are a lot of moving pieces.

I have a VP I work with and we have a great relationship. I know exactly what he’s looking for and every placement I’ve made with him has been very successful (according to both parties). During my time working with him I also built a great relationship with a woman in HR and she gave me several searches that weren’t related to the VP I know.

Recently I made a placement with her. After the first month of this person starting, he got sick, very sick and was in the hospital for almost 30 days. My contact and I agreed that we would extend my guarantee for 30 days on the premise that I would find a replacement if needed for 66% of my normal fee. That was in line with my 30, 60, 90 day guarantee, only extended to 120 days.

Well, on day 117 he quit.

I immediately found three back-up candidates that were in the process. Then, radio silence.

About three months later I hear from another HR person (whom I do not get along with, which is a whole other story) saying we need to take care of the situation. Apparently my HR contact left the company and they hired a new person. Anyway they want me to help with a couple searches, but will not pay any part of the fee on the first placement. Apparently it was my fault this guy got sick. In their eyes I cost them two placement fees and four months of unproductive salary. They ended up hiring the replacement from another agency.

Needless to say, the other people I’ve placed there are literally making this company millions of dollars, but they don’t care about that. They also don’t care that I extended my guarantee, and tried to make things right. Part of me wants to tell them to F off but I like the VP I work with, and the people I place there love it. So what would you recommend?

Danny Says

Your candidate couldn’t possibly have been as sick as I am to have to write the following words to you…

You Lose. They Win.

I mean you lose in the short run. You get no one, (not even me; you have family for unconditional love) saying how unfair this is to you. No one acknowledges that the candidate was clearly angling to quit, that you were acting in good faith to replace and they went ahead with interviewing other candidates even though you had people in process; and how about the ignominy you suffer when the deal you cut with the HR person gets forgotten when she quits without telling you?

If this were a movie, you’d tap your glass and the bartender would bring your refill, see your forlorn face, and ask you if you wanted to talk about it.

But when you are done with all the finger pointing and mandatory misery and pouting, you are left with the words of Lou Holtz:

80% of people don’t care about your problems, and the other 20% are glad you have them.

You are left with a client you clearly value. A client that candidates, this little adventure aside, want to work for and therefore are easily closed. You have a trusted contact in high places, and there is more business to be had down the road.

In my rabid rebel days, my umbrage would have gotten the better of me. I would have, in the name of principle, said insulting things and threatened to recruit every quality person in the place out of there.

But it not only, never worked out that way, but I ended up feeling silly and petulant. God forbid, the world doesn’t always give me my way.

Grace is revealed when we lose, not when we win. How easy it is to shake hands at the net when you have won the trophy.

Pass this test, accept your fate, make it clear you disagree, but will honor their decision because you value their business more than you need to be right. By doing so, you have alerted the Recruiting Gods that you are due. And they will be impressed, and will reward you.

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