Several years ago I started recruiting for one of the Big 3 Automakers. My work was concentrated in the Controller’s department where I searched for technical accounting, accounting research and financial reporting folks. One day the Controller asked me to work with their Audit Department and please help them find some good people to facilitate the change needed in the department. The overall vision was to implement the GE type audit function, that works so well over at GE.

I met with the VP of Audit and his HR rep who would be handling all the resumes and interview schedules the beginning of September. I asked when they wanted the new people to start work and was told by the end of the year. I didn’t see any problems on my end so I asked: “When are you available to begin interviewing?” The VP of Audit started turning the pages in his calendar and finally said, "the first week I am available is the middle of April of next year". I told him obviously no one would be starting at the end of this year if he couldn’t interview until next year.

The HR rep piped in with ‘you will forward the resumes to me for review before the end of November and the interviews will start with me and if I clear them they can wait to meet John next April’. I said that was not a good idea to try to keep good candidates dangling and in limbo for so long. HR rep came back with, "we don't care – this is how we do it here".

Let’s see; sharing the resume by November, an interview with HR rep sometime after and then we wait until April for the candidates to meet the head audit guy. If the Controller hadn’t asked me to help these people, I would be leaving right now.  This has disaster written all over it.

To be honest though, the initial search did intrigue me. They wanted someone with 10+ years experience, CPA from a top firm, that spoke Mandarin Chinese, plus two other Chinese dialects, and was a “blonde haired, blue eyed, American boy”. No Asian candidates because they often will be more submissive and subservient and this candidate would be going to take over the head finance role in China in two years. Something like finding a needle in a haystack? My kind of search!

Well, come November I had found three (still cannot believe I found three) candidates.

I shared their resumes with HR rep, after calling her first and leaving a message that they were being sent over. And waited, and waited. No response from HR rep. Called again and again and again. No response. Year end comes and still no response. I try calling the VP of Audit and get no response. I go to the Controller - who I reminded got me in this mess – but he also got no response from either of them. The VP of Audit didn’t report to him, they were colleagues at the company.

In the meantime, after the first of the year I ended up placing two of the candidates with other companies, they were not interested in waiting for something that looked like it would never happen – I couldn't blame them. The third candidate was pretty happy in his current position; so was equally happy to wait it out and see what happened.

On a sunny Monday in April I finally received a call from the HR rep.  She was calling to say they wanted to interview my candidates this Wednesday in Atlanta and that they would arrange for the candidates to fly down on Tuesday night, stay over and meet several audit people on Wednesday and then fly back.  I told the HR rep that two of the candidates were no longer interested and had moved on and that I would call the third. I mentioned this late notice of flying out tomorrow and taking time off work this week could be a problem.  She replied that we are XX and if anyone wants to work for us they can wait for us and come to us when we call. You can guess how I wanted to respond – I bit my lips until they bled instead of replying.

I called the candidate and he was thrilled and said he would make it work. He did and everyone that met him loved him. They wanted to make him an offer but first because he would be coming in at a Director level he would have to interview with the finance heads of three divisions of the company. He met with two car divisions but they couldn’t arrange a meeting with either of the other two car divisions so they had him meet with the non car division.

He met with the head finance guy (Fred) who during the interview asked my candidate "why wait two years to go to China. I’ll offer you a position as our head finance guy in China right now and you can go to China your first day of work while we complete all the necessary paperwork."  

The surprised candidate said “Aaahhhh, Cora recruited me for the audit department, won’t this cause problems?” Fred told him no one pays attention to the audit department and said he would take care of it.

So - not knowing any of this - I get a call from the candidate after the interview:

Me: How did it go?

Him: Pretty well, they offered me a job and I accepted it.

Me: The audit guys were there?

Him: No, this is with Fred at the division I interviewed with and I’ll be leaving for China in three weeks. Fred says he’ll call you and get everything straight.

Me: What about the audit department?

Him: He called them while I was there and told them he hired me on the spot and that I'll be leaving for China in three weeks. I could hear that guy I met from audit yelling and swearing through the phone.

Me: OMG!!! (To myself)

I had to call the VP of Audit and tell him. Of course, he already knew. He yelled (a lot), said I was the worse recruiter he had ever encountered and that he would make sure I never worked at that company again. I tried to apologize and tell him that maybe the process had taken too long and how would I know that one of the divisions would hire the guy.

I had to call the HR rep and talk with her – I listened to about 15 minutes of her telling (yelling) me how bad I was and how she didn’t want to use my services in the first place and wanted to use another recruiter that had always come through for her, blah, blah, blah. I again tried to tell her that their process was perhaps the problem and that sending a good candidate to other divisions wasn’t necessarily a good choice. She thought I should have controlled the candidate better. I reminded her that she set up the interviews and I had no idea who the candidate was meeting with.

I thought for sure that I had lost my best and largest client forever. What was I going to do?  I was in the middle of searching for 5 people for the Controller’s department!

I had to call the Controller. He laughed about what happened and said he had already heard about it through the grapevine and that everyone was laughing at the audit department!  I was thoroughly depressed until he said, "Don't worry, you'll never have to work with the audit department again, just the rest of the company"!        End of story.


* Candidate worked for division and in China for over five years.

* VP of Audit was wrong; I have worked for company for many years after; but never for the audit department.

* VP Audit guy was fired before the yearend because he could never get the new vision off the ground – are we surprised?

* HR rep – never heard from again.

* Fred, from the division, paid my fee. I also did several more searches for that division.


What I learned:

* If the search restrictions don't work with the timeline or your marketplace you walk away from the search – no, you run away!!

* As recruiters we know after we meet someone - whether it’s a candidate or client - if we want to represent them to the marketplace. Once we make that decision we need to stick to it – it’s the right decision.  This is a search I should have walked away from at that first meeting.

* If the people involved in the search are not working with you for a successful completion, they are not serious so don't waste your time with them! 


Moral for company: If you know one of your divisions is looking for a candidate with the same specs as you are; don't send candidate there to interview!


FYI: After this incident I considered every division and department at that company as a different entity and if asked to work with any area they had to sign a detailed contract with me that had precise guidelines they had to follow to have me represent them. I had several separate clients from within one large company.


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Congratulations Cora!!!


Cora not only received the most votes, but also received the highest score from our judges. Congratulations again Cora and enjoy your new iPad.

We would also like to thank all of the RBC members who took the time to share their stories. You can visit this link to read all of the submissions. We also want to offer a thank you to the community for reading, commenting and voting, and a special thanks to the Bullhorn Reach Team.


Details on our next community contest coming soon.....


Thank you to the judges and all the RBC members that read and voted for my Horror Story!


I was surprised to win because all the stories were really great Horror Stories for recruiters.


Best wishes for continued success to everyone!


Congrats! Cora Mae--on winning the RBC best Horror Story Contest...It was a nightmare of a story with a happy ending.  We need more of those...with happy endings.

Thank you.  I am honored to have won when there were so many great stories - yours included.
Valentino Martinez said:

Congrats! Cora Mae--on winning the RBC best Horror Story Contest...It was a nightmare of a story with a happy ending.  We need more of those...with happy endings.

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