Being in search and recruitment for a while now I have met and spoken to different strange people here and there but there are some interactions that will stay with me for the rest of my life.


About a year ago we had a candidate that we were representing to one of our clients at the time. Let's call the candidate John.


After several interviews John decided not to proceed with the role (or the client decided not to proceed, I can't exactly remember).


Not wanting to let a good candidate go to waste I had picked up another similar job with one of my new clients and thought John may be suitable for the role. I spoke to John for a while to screen him and ensure he is suitable and spent even longer to describe the role to him and entice him to proceed (it really was a good role). Given we already knew John and had previously interviewed him it really was extraordinary that I spent all that time with him but John being picky, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.


I had asked John if he had already been represented to our client (I had given him the company name etc) and he told me since he is a passive candidate he has only ever spoken to our agency and that he has not been represented. So at the end of our discussion I sent John an email with the job description asking him to write me a written consent to represent him.


Low and behold John goes home and writes back that he now remembers that another agency (lets call them commission R us) had called John 2 weeks ago. In a quick conversation (talk about the quality of the call) they had told him that company XYZ (my client) had a role in his area and asked if he is interested. John had promptly replied no and the conevrsation ended there.


Now get ready for the bomb. John wrote to me that since commission R us had contacted him 2 weeks ago it is the right thing to apply through them and that he was going to call their agent tomorrow to ask the agent to represent him.


I wrote to John explaining that first of all I had mentioned the name of the company to him so I was honest to begin with and secondly, and more importantly, I understood the role, ensured he was suitable, explained the role to him in details and made him interested, and also knew how to best represent him. Commission R us had not done any of those.


John replied he has made his mind and asked me not to contact him. I later found out that the role was filled and John was the candidate they picked.


I think I was reasonable in the way I dealt with John but I am interested to know how differently other people may have reacted to this situation.



Views: 203

Comment by Boris Stefanovic on February 24, 2011 at 11:49am

It sounds like you did all you could do.

I've been in this situation myself and, although there are many different arguments one might make, the only recourse you have is to either let it go and chalk it up to experience, or behave unethically (for example, when the candidate informed you he'd be applying through Commissions R us you could have contradicted his wishes and submitted his resume anyway). 

In the end, I think this is what makes our job difficult sometimes and interesting all the time: people are not like boxes on the shelf, you never can predict what they'll do or why.


If this turns into a "Inexplicable and irrational candidate behavior" thread, expect it to get very very long :)

Comment by Cassandra Winchell on February 24, 2011 at 11:50am
Cassandra:  That is too bad to lose a placement! I do not provide company names until my candidate has an interview to prepare for
Comment by Melanie Morris on February 24, 2011 at 11:51am

I think you got the short end of this deal for sure and don't believe John played fair with you.

Hard to imagine he was interested after speaking with the other agency when he didn't even remember doing so.

Not sure I understand your question though.  Sounds like you had no recourse, other than to tell John how you felt you deserved the business, but he had control of the situation.    I'm not a recruiter, but this is a crummy way to be dealt.

Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 24, 2011 at 12:00pm

This happens to everyone. At first, it hurts. You did your best, were sincere and honest. You were scooped by another recruiter. Think of this business as a game. You win some, you lose some. I personally would have told him too bad, I already submittted you. And, then I would have explained to him that he is free to interview anywhere else with the other recruiter. But, for that particular company, he was already submitted.

He is a liar, and has no loyalty to you. I know it's hard to swallow, but he is like 90 percent of the people we recruit. I start my day knowing that everyone is lying to me. Keeps me on my toes!

Comment by Donna Little on February 24, 2011 at 12:16pm

This same scenario just happened to me this past week.  I asked to represent this potential candidate for a position before I knew I had actually gotten the contract to recruit.  After the first time we spoke, I noticed that his behavior was rather odd.  The candidate was supposed to resend his resume along with other information.  I waited a couple days.  I called back and he promised to send it.  Still he did do so.  I decided to submit him anyway with the copy of the resume I had.  Well, lo and behold, wouldn't know he went with another recruiter. 


I chalked this one up to experience and moved on.  I have submitted others for this position and my concern is now with them.  I realize that I cannot control the actions of others but I remain true to myself and my standards.

Comment by Todd Lempicke on February 24, 2011 at 12:25pm

We sometimes use this authorization to represent and refer:


I authorize The Hunter Group, Raleigh, NC to represent me and to refer my credentials to the following company:

XYZ Corporation

Please check all that apply:

         I have not previously sent my credentials or resume to the above organization(s) for the purpose of exploring employment opportunities.

         I was specifically recruited by The Hunter Group for the above mentioned company for the purpose of exploring employment opportunities.

         I have previously sent my credentials or resume to the above organization(s) within the past twelve months for the purpose of exploring employment opportunities or to apply for a specific position opening.

If so, please state when, for what position, whether you were contacted and interviewed?



           I am not sure or do not recall sending my credentials to the above organization for any reason.

         I have not authorized the referral of my credentials by anyone else, such as other recruiting firms, authorized the inclusion of my credentials in the company database, or through personal acquaintance with any current or previous employee of the above mentioned company.





Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 24, 2011 at 1:03pm

How about calling the company the minute you tell the candidate the company name.  Book in the name with the internal recruiter or hiring manager.  Tell them you have just spoken with him about the position and will have the resume to them as soon as the candidate signs your agreement.


The internal recruiter now has the candidates name from you.  If the other agency then submits him there will be a question.  When the company comes back to you tell them exactly what happened.  They may decide to honor the referral of the other agency but they now know the deal with this candidate.


I often, while on the phone with a candidate will discuss the job.  Ask them if it sounds like something they would be interested in.  If they say yes and they indicate they have not listed with any other agency, I say, great then i will move forward with your resume.   i hit the send button to the employer as I tell the candidate that i have moved forward with their resume while we are talking, then give them the name of the company. 


Your candidate had given you verbal approval, had indicated he was not listed with anyone else.  At that point you have completed both sides of the referral.  The candidate has the name of the company, the company has the resume.  You are working in good faith based on the information that the candidate has given you.  The company has his resume from you.  If he then refuses to sign a formal agreement because another agency called him about the job and he turned it down, you tell him you are confused as he told you that he had not talked with anyone else but you will be happy to explain the situation to the company and see what they have to say.


You call the company tell them what has happened and how it happened.  Most companies will say that since you sent the resume in first they will honor your referral.  Go back to your candidate tell him that the company has indicated they will accept

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 24, 2011 at 2:59pm

cut off again.  Obviously i talk too much.


"company has indicated they will accept your referral and you hope he will want to interview if they want to move forward.

Comment by FREYJA P. on February 24, 2011 at 3:04pm

 Thank you Sandra - well said.  Two things happen - your "candidate" is immediately in front of the client, and you find out if XYZ Corporation already has John's resume from another agency or not, and if John is shopping for jobs and wants more than one "big" one on the go, to see which one comes home first.


Comment by Travis Yeager on February 24, 2011 at 6:42pm

Now get ready for the bomb. John wrote to me that since commission R us had contacted him 2 weeks ago it is the right thing to apply through them and that he was going to call their agent tomorrow to ask the agent to represent him.


It sounds as though your candidate wasn't honest and forthright with you. Not many truly passive candidates would forget such a phone call. Follow ups are crucial and at the start of every call I ask, "Has anything changed since we last spoke?" It sounds as though you follow a similar practice and the bottom line is it is hard to deal with a dishonest candidate. It's also been my experience that the longer an engagement lasts the more likely it is that a passive candidate becomes active, "well Travis has discussed a couple opportunities with me in a relatively short time, i wonder what else is out there." making the whole situation even more squirrelly. Predictable outcomes become much harder as time goes on. Sandra has a good point too, if you have disclosed the company name to your candidate and he expresses interest, my next step is the candidate presentation by phone and resume submission to the client. I would email the submission (read receipts and all) as opposed to just a phone call with a name however as "commisions r us" may have shaved 5% off your best price.

I've experienced similar situations and they suck, especially when you know you've invested the time and passion into leading a candidate forward.

I defer now to Boris' closing comment above.


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