Recruitment - good days and bad days

Aaahhh it’s happened again – 23 years recruiting and clients still have the capacity to hit you where it really really hurts.  So you are working away on a contingency assignment,  the client has changed the profile twice but despite everything you have the final two candidates in for final round – they like both, both like the company and one of them will be offered the role.  This is a senior role and the fee is a big one.  You know what it’s like – the commission is spent and I think it’s in the bag.  Suddenly there is an announcement – the CEO is leaving and a new one is coming in and everything goes on hold but there are reassurances all round that this won’t affect the outcome.  Like any pro I am already sensing a problem so start to mention that if the spec changes that we should go through an exec search process etc  etc.  I have been here before.  


The new CEO arrives and with no great surprise within three days both of those great final candidates are rejected the role profile is being changed.  My Hr contact is very apologetic but I write to her and say that these things happen (who is soothing who?) but that I would be prepared to start again. As the role has become even more senior we need to start an exec search process.  The next morning an email comes in from my mortified HR contact that despite the fact that I have provided an excellent service, that I have identified candidates that match the brief exactly, that I work well with all of them they have decided to go down an exec search route with another supplier. No opportunity to put in a bid – no opportunity to meet the new CEO – the deal is done.  That is a kick right where it hurts.  Life in recruitment has many rewards but there are days…….

Views: 640

Comment by Bill Schultz on September 28, 2011 at 12:25pm

That stinks, Jacqui.  I think you should call the CEO directly and compel him or her to take a meeting.  Don't be angry, just point out the benefits to you taking the search, the road map you've taken and how well you can evangelize the company.  

As for going over the head of your contact, well s/he's already proved their worthlessness.

Good Luck and better tomorrows!

Comment by Jacqui on September 28, 2011 at 12:31pm
Thanks for the empathy - there comes a time when you have to let it go and this is one of those. I decided to share my story for all those recruiters that sometimes have a bad day  Luckily my HR person is working with me on other roles so no point in losing her as well! Lesson - it's not in the bag until its really in the bag.
Comment by Bill Schultz on September 28, 2011 at 1:28pm

... and sometimes you get half in the bag when it's not in the bag.  :)


Well, she owes you one.  (The HR person) 

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 28, 2011 at 2:29pm
Sounds like the new CEO has his own recruiting relationships.... I don't see where that's anyone's fault exactly.  Still sucks and like you said Jacqui at least you've got an ally in HR and other reqs to work on - However, new CEOs generally bring people with them inside and out.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 28, 2011 at 2:51pm

Jacqui--your experience comes under the term "scar tissue".  I can show you scars (but I won't go there) real and emotional; and I'm sure over 23 years you already have a few of your own.  Point is they heal and you move forward.

By the way--it could be worse...the new boss hires your candidates through another agency (Just kidding--just wanted to momentarily distract you from the BS that just went down).

Smile...we're all behind you...

Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 28, 2011 at 3:55pm

I had this crap happen in the middle of a search with one candidate still in play.  The twerpy head of HR decided i was not near as cool as the Executive Search Firm guys who had been licking and sucking on his phone. 


I said oh dahling not a problem i'm just a little girl from West Texas tryin to get by in the harsh cruel world but...I will assume that you will honor my candidate referral on the candidate that you have in the loop who has done one interview and scheduled to do the second one.  "Oh sure" (in a patronizing tone)  but don't send any more.  "Oh of course not, i know this is a critical position and certainly you should make every effort to get the big boys involved", (said in my best phony West Texas accent).


I have no idea what they paid the big butter and egg boys from the east or what kind of contract they signed or how many candidates the big swingin Hoo Haas sent but mine got the job.  So ha ha, hoo haas and Mr. Twerp and thank you for the opportuntiy to work on a contingent basis and the check for 40K.

Go back and ask in your best professional voice if your candidates already submitted might be reconsidered in the new mix and if not since you have been working on the spot would your HR contact just put some other resumes in front of the new guy without saying where they came from to see how they stack up against the "Executive Search Group".


I would guess that he is throwing it to them because they probably placed him or he has a long relationship with them or maybe he is just a big swinging Hoo Haa himself.


My Mr. Twerp spent over a million with Executive Search firms one year and made not one hire so the butter and egg ended up on his face and they went back to the contingency group who only get paid for successful efforts and like a timex they just keep on tickin.  what a lot of companies learn is that the "face guys" with the big firms are not the ones who work on their account.  It's a lot like a big 4 public accounting firm.  You see the smooth partners but the person who does the work is a kid about three years out of school.

Comment by Bill Schultz on September 28, 2011 at 4:20pm
I'm amazed at how few CEO's actually have long term relationships with recruiters.  I don't know what this say about our industry's CRM.  But we pose the question to veteran CEO's with whom we meet and often they say that they conrtact us on a opportunistic basis and not one has gained long term loyalty.
Comment by Jeremy Spring on September 29, 2011 at 3:02pm

Very frustrating, for sure. Inherent in folks in our business, I think, is that we enjoy meeting and interacting with people.  And any senior recruiting gig requires faith in the company you're representing, its people and culture, and the opportunity you're presenting to candidates.  It's often overlooked by clients that in pitching a move to top talent, we must sell these traits to the candidates we're recruiting. And when the client drops this kind of steaming turd on your efforts, it's hard not to come across as disingenuous to the candidates you've engaged.


It also sucks to have wasted so much damned time. If this client finds themselves in a pinch and comes back to you for future reqs (and they probably will), hopefully you'll be in a position to return the favor.

Comment by Darryl Dioso on September 29, 2011 at 3:10pm
And they wonder why we have such well stocked wine and liquor cabinets, eh?
Comment by Jodi on September 30, 2011 at 1:59am
Or how about placing the Director of HR at a fast growing IT firm and she brings on an in-house recruiter from her previous employer that has to prove his worth and wants to fill all of the companies openings on his own?  Before he came on board, HR used me for all of their openings and I was filling them all but now he has to look like the hero.  Hopefully he will burn out quickly and realize how much he needs my help.  Amen to stocked liquor cabinets!  I am sure us Vets can write a book.  We pretty much started it on this chat.  Its nice to know this kind of unfortunate crap happens to the best of us. I tend to take it personally and think it only happens to me.


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