Dec 17, 2013

Question man cartoon - freedigitalAny Month

Day 1: I’m walking on eggshells. The company’s vice president, referred to me by one of my wonderful HR contacts within the same company, called me with a job order. Quite honestly, we struggled to make traction with this job order. While we presented a couple of candidates, we didn’t find the perfect fit for the job.

Then Larisa, my senior research associate in Mexico, sent me a beautiful resume of an experienced multinational accountant, living in Tucson. I called the candidate who quickly told me that she was tired of recruiters wasting her time. I assured her that over the years, as she was driving by this construction materials company, I was  placing at least 15 candidates with them. I told her they have one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry.

She sent me an updated resume. I quickly presented the resume to the company and got a bite. Not just a nibble but a bite! The interview seemingly went well and then the job order went dormant.

Day 26:  The VP calls me to say they are excited about the candidate. Excited? Really? Why in the hell were they telling me now? They wanted to fly the candidate to California for a final interview. I quickly called the candidate and said, “This is David from Sparrow. I have great news! They want to fly you out to California! You made the final cut!”

Silence. More silence. This was not normal silence. This was the I-Have-Accepted-Another-Offer-Silence. Sure enough, she was off the market. She was serious too. She put on a tough act. After all, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

Candidate CPR

I went into emergency mode. Call 911! Look, listen, and feel! Initiate candidate CPR.

I tried to be respectful but also get information about the job that she had accepted:

Me: What type of company was it?

Her: A resort and spa.

Hmm.  A mom and pop or a large company?

Large company.

Based on these responses, I bet her that the salary was $55k. Exactly. I reminded her that my client would be offering a salary in the $70-90k range.

If we had been talking about a couple of thousand dollars, I would not have been fighting so hard. Or maybe I would have been fighting this hard because I had fallen hard into the one candidate trap. I was making ground and winning the arm wrestle.

I told her that we could be up-front and tell my client that she had verbally accepted a position. I regularly tell my candidates that they are hands-off once they start a new job, but that new offers, received before the start date, are fair game. I know these tactics may be questionable to the average Joe, but these tactics close deals for my clients. If you are not prepared to fight then don’t even show up.

 To Tell or Not

When I told the VP that the candidate had accepted a job offer, but had not yet started, the brakes started screeching and the sirens were roaring. The VP quickly told me that she doesn’t play games. I asked the VP, “How can you blame her?” She was looking for work, received an offer and jumped to accept the position. The VP told me that she was “counting on me” to make this happen.

Thanks for the confidence.

After relaying this information to the candidate, she asked me for advice. I was at a loss for words, and this very rarely happens. I figured out the solution. It really was nobody’s business if she had accepted a position but didn’t start. At the end of the day, it was the candidate’s decision. She decided to go for it.

The penultimate day: After the “final” final interview, the candidate was cautiously optimistic. I called the VP, who assured me that they were going to make an offer by 12 p.m. the following day. I circled back to the candidate and told her that she would be hearing good news shortly.

11:30 a.m.: No news. I called the VP and she assured me that we were on track for the 12 p.m. call. I gorged myself on chips and salsa, and waited for the phone to ring. I called Larisa and hashed out the waiting game. Finally, the candidate called. She had accepted the offer.

It’s Not Automatic

Sorry for the back and forth, but I really wanted to portray all of the mechanics in this deal. After recruiting for so many years, we can lose sight of the vulnerability and fragility of the deals. There are often 10 different answers for every situation, but you have to go with the scenario that works best. You also must be ready to quickly shift gears if your initial plan doesn’t work.

Like I said earlier, it is the candidate’s decision to reveal or withhold information regarding current offers, interviews, and job prospects. It is not my business or my client’s business. Yes, getting this information can be critical for gaining “ammunition,” but that is for the candidate to decide. In this case, I told the VP about the other offer without suspecting that she might want to cancel the whole deal. It would have been better to have tested the waters.

As I mentioned, this VP was referred to me by an HR manager. I did not really know my client and how she would react. After so many years of trying to turn my placement process into an automated continuous factory floor, I am constantly reminded that our “products” are people. This process can never be fully automated, which is good for the recruiting field.

I invoice the client for $20,500 and the candidate starts work. I make a quick celebratory call to Larisa and the Mexico research team, congratulating them on another great candidate. I hang up the phone and then realize I have no other starts.

Party is over; let’s do it again.

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