I “FIRED” My Candidate…and Still Closed $27k

Mar 4, 2011

Last month, I “fired” a candidate during the interview/offer process, and I am 100% convinced the only reason I still earned the fee was because… (are you listening?) I emotionally “checked out” of the torment and refocused my efforts on the things in my business I could control, which were sourcing and recruiting candidates for other searches on which my firm was engaged. After nearly fourteen years as a third-party recruiter, I have learned a thing or two about candidate or client control… IT DOES NOT EXIST!

If another “old skool” recruiter tries to sell you an audio program, seminar, or coaching program for which the foundation is “Applicant/Client control,” RUN FOR THE HILLS! Unless, of course, you recruit dinosaurs. The “shift” is real, and I strongly urge you recognize the signs; however that is another post… 🙂

Please understand — I love this Industry, almost as much as I love being a business owner and ultimately controlling my own destiny. You see, as recruiters we are blessed beyond comprehension, especially when we invest in ourselves and our employees to ensure we keep “becoming” better stewards to this industry. To those who truly love this business, you are my heroes!!! THANKS FOR YOUR INSPIRATION…

As Gary Vaynerchuk states in his remarkable book, CRUSH IT, “The average U.S. salary is around $40-50k. You can earn that doing a job you love or a job you hate. Please choose love!”

Last I checked, my virtual assistant is on target to earn the average U.S. salary, and the “average” recruiter with whom I mastermind or network is making 5-10 times the average U.S. salary… Yep, we’re blessed indeed!

I wonder if you have truly discovered how powerful this industry is? I also wonder if you have truly discovered how powerful you are with your words, and your actions? (BLEEPING POWERFUL!)

Knowing this, however, there are only two things in your business life you can control:

  1. Your mental state (attitude)
  2. Your activity (calls/submissions/meetings, etc.)

This, in my view, is what separates the top 1% in their niche, from the “herd.” When you fully realize what this does for you, as it did when I “fired” my candidate midstream, you are on your way to a “recruiting confidence” that 99% of your peers might never fully manifest on their desk.

When I consciously separated (“shifted”) my emotions from the candidate, the universe subconsciously handled the rest for me… (Kind of hokey, but I believe this to be true from my experience.)  In contrast, had I been 25 years young and in my “rookie year” of recruitment when this happened, there is no question in my mind I would have lost this placement from forcing the issue. Again, this game is in your mind.

As third-party recruiters, we love “action lists,” so I have compiled a list of characteristics you should be aware of when you are considering “firing” a candidate midstream. Business aside, I consider this candidate an acquaintance, and I am very grateful for making the match for many reasons, however he would have won an award for his shocking behavior during the interview process.

Please consider the following:

Complaining: This is a “red flag,” and is usually ascertained in the first conversation or meeting but some start complaining very close the point when they have to make a decision/offer. (Fear) In this instance, my candidate complained about the fact that the “feedback was taking too long,” or “they said they would let you know by today, that is very unprofessional.”  Welcome to Corporate America… “Hurry up and wait.” 🙂

Incompatible: Let’s face it: your “core identity” is not always going to match your candidates, so be aware of this, and perhaps use “pacing/mirroring” (NLP= Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques to counter any issues. (Match their body and language style) The good thing about third-party recruiters vs. corporate recruiters is that we can control whom we work with in most cases. I have had drinks with this particular candidate on a day trip to Northern CA, and I like him as a person, but when it came to the business of interviewing, he was a JACKASS!

Game Changers: You clearly state your intentions upfront (ex. interview process, salary negotiation, etc.), and low and behold your candidate wants “create their own terms,” on the fly… NOPE!!! My circumstance was such that the candidate would say one thing to me, then turn around and do an entirely different thing. For example, he set up a meeting with the client without even telling me. I am open to this, but I’d rather keep the communication lines open so I can assist him a earning what he wants, namely a new boss!

Trust: This is huge piece and straight forward. If they lie today, they will lie tomorrow. The key is transparency/authenticity upfront, to set the tone for all interactions. (Two-way street) I do believe my candidate trusted me, because I took the time to listen and meet with him on many occasions, but I became nervous about his saying one thing, and actually doing an entirely different thing.

Unrealistic Expectations: If a Principal Test Engineer on average earns $120k and your candidate wants $150k, a parking spot, and a sign-on bonus, they live in the land of “unicorns and rainbows.” Note, this is/was a serious issue for my candidate I “fired” last month. Typically, I have found it is something else, like insecurity, or a HUGE MORTGAGE IN SILICON VALLEY, they can’t afford. NOT your problem!

Clueless: How many PhD’s have you encountered that can do long division in their sleep, or code a trillion lines of code in seconds, but when it comes to “asking for the job”, they stumble and fumble like a child? Careful with these types, a candidate like this can negatively affect your client relations for the simple fact that expectations are high upfront. My candidate worked for a huge data storage employer in Silicon Valley, and they historically pay their people very well. But in the startup world, especially in this day and age with cash being tight, you MUST get your candidates to see the bigger picture in terms of future potential. (Take Money Off The Table)

Money, Money, Money: Like I stated above, when candidates are obsessed with the money questions early on, buyer beware! This is in my view a huge “red flag” for issues on the back end. (Offer stage)

Communication: Should the communication styles be strained, consider having a “coming to Jesus” conversation with your candidate. I did with mine, and I ultimately “disengaged.” By taking action over my thoughts, feelings/emotions, and actions with other relevant searches in my business, I ultimately earned $27k on that search assignment. I asked the tough questions upfront, and clearly in the end, it helped my client achieve what is wanted, namely to take away test engineering pains!

Arrogance/Rudeness: We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and socioeconomic conditions, however in my view, we are all created equal and at no time should your candidate belittle you, your desk, or your firm. This goes both ways, and when a candidate who is a stretch for your requirement calls the office, it is important to still treat them with dignity and respect. My candidate made occasional statements made to me in jest, such as, “All you recruiters are the same,“ or “All you want to do is close the deal Brian,” which I took as offensive at times and ultimately is the reason I “checked out” midstream (yet still closed the deal!).

In conclusion, YOUR feelings don’t matter in the end, when it comes to making placements, so don’t allow your ego to drive behavior like I did when I was a 25 year old “rookie.”  Even if you attempt to control everything, sometimes stuff (or a placement) just happens, simply because of the “match” between your candidate and client. What I believe ultimately matters are the feelings of the client, who is paying your bills. The recruiting game is about solving problems for your customers. Therefore, you can fool yourself into thinking that you control the situation, but ultimately you can’t control everything in the hiring process. (Unless you are an “old skool” dinosaur recruiter)

I wonder if you have discovered just how much revenue you can make and time you will save by “firing” your problem candidates?

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