How to NOT Win Friends and Influence People

I just received an email from a staffing agency we asked to help us fill a position on a contingency basis. Our third party recruiter is a bit perturbed with us because several candidates have been submitted (some good, some not) and we haven’t interviewed any of them. Also, there have been some debates internally around paying a FT placement fee vs. contracting. I’m doing my best to keep our TPR up to date and informed but hey, sometimes things don't go according to plan. That’s recruiting.


In an email questioning our math skills, wondering if we’ve communicated certain facts to the CIO, and then asking us to give the respect of an answer as to what went wrong, this business professional tells me (direct quote) “all in all, probably a full day's worth of productivity between myself and my team has now been thrown away”.


A full day? EIGHT WHOLE HOURS? How about this…cry me a river. Do you think you’re the only one that ever had a deal go wrong? Besides, if you’re connecting with viable candidates who can’t be found otherwise then how in the world is that wasted time? If this person and their team are building relationships with people in the tech industry how is that a waste of time?


Better question… how is berating me in an email (which can be printed, forwarded, shared, saved forever and ever) get you any closer to closing a deal?


Maybe this TPR didn’t realize how offensive the email was, or just didn’t care. Here’s the potential downside – I know people who are looking for recruiting help both as clients and really good candidates. My colleague (also on the receiving end of this diatribe) is pretty well connected too. We will NEVER refer anyone to this agency. It was an embarrassment to our profession and I’m sorry I ever suggested to my team we use this firm. There are so many things this kid needs to learn, including these tough truths about recruiting –


The pressure is intense – there will always be pressure to land clients, find candidates, close deals. Sometimes that pressure gets to us. When things don’t go as planned it can cause the most level headed among us to freak out. Jump up and down and swear all you want, but don’t put it in writing to your client.

It rarely goes according to plan – Listen, you’re dealing with personalities on every side of this business. Why do we act so shocked when something changes? To be more recruiting specific – we tell a hiring manager sure we’ll give it to an agency, fee is 20%. Ok, fine. Then it’s here’s the candidate, salary is $X and fee is $Y THEN the hiring manager isn’t feeling so good about that mythical 20% turning into hard numbers that hit his budget. Unless the candidate is a rockstar, the hiring manager might (prepare yourself) change his mind.

Far better to promise little, deliver big – Just tell me you’ll work on it, keep me informed on a semi-regular basis, and then quietly slip a superstar under my door. I will jump up and down in a good way. It’s the blowhards that are blathering on about their awesome process and epic connections that look like morons when they send me “ok” candidates. I am not impressed by your office address or who started your firm. I care that you find me what I can’t find myself.

It’s not the client’s job to make you look good – I don’t know how you’ve presented our position or what you’ve told your recruiters and candidates about your relationship with us. I don’t care. So if you’ve sold a bill of goods to someone on your end that you now can’t deliver, that is not my problem. Again, things don’t always go according to plan - and it’s not your client’s job to clean up any mess that these changes may have made for you.

You get to choose who you work for – 3rd party recruiters have this amazing advantage. You actually get to pick the companies you want to do business with. Unless you have a broad national contract or your boss makes you, then yes – you get to decide if you want to put forth any energy on our part. If there is something about me or my company you don’t like, then by all means move along. It’s possible to exit gracefully and save us both the frustration.


A satisfied client will pay an invoice. A happy client will give you repeat business (more invoices). Any thoughts on the client you rebuked? Here’s a hint – they aren’t writing you a check.

Views: 937

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 21, 2011 at 8:27pm

Either that TPR has only been in the business about 35 minutes or they are way too sexy for their hat.  This happens all the time with changes and rethinks and all the other twists and turns of the human condition.


There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip and this ass just poured his Starbucks super mocha lattte right down his tasmania devil tie, probably doesn't own a tie never mind.  Let's just say he did a world class job of putting his foot in his email mouth right up to his aspirin box.  Would this be the same kid who didn't know the difference between a designer and an engineer?

Comment by Bill Schultz on December 21, 2011 at 9:34pm

Wait- is this the cute guy in the coffee shop?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on December 21, 2011 at 11:02pm
Sandra & Bill - right on all counts. I had such high hopes for this kid!
Comment by Josue Chavez on December 22, 2011 at 10:41am

Great read!

Comment by Brian K. Johnston on December 22, 2011 at 11:08am

"I am not impressed by your office address or who started your firm. I care that you find me what I can’t find myself."   LOVED this article and I am TPR...  I trust you will listen/learn (TPR) from Amy's feedback...

Comment by Darryl Dioso on December 22, 2011 at 11:46am

This guy couldn't have been from Seattle - they're all nice, no?

Just kidding.

Stories like this give 3rd Parties a bad name. For 2012, I am branding myself a 4th Party recruiter. Feel free to use and join the wave.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on December 22, 2011 at 12:11pm

Thanks everyone for the positive feedback! I was hesitant to post this because I don't like the idea of throwing a fellow recruiter under the bus... but this email was so completely inappropriate that I felt it was an important cautionary tale for the newbies at RBC. :) In 10+ years of agency recruiting, everything from forklift drivers to CFOs (not at the same time of course), I've never seen anything so ridiculous. If one of my recruiters ever sent an email like that to a client they would have been fired on the spot.


@Darryl - pretty sure he's not from Seattle! I like the 4PR idea let's run with that!

Comment by Bill Schultz on December 22, 2011 at 12:57pm

On the contrary, I've written 100's of these types of  emails.

His only mistake was hitting the send button.  

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on December 22, 2011 at 1:13pm

lol Bill touche... :) you are absolutely right the WRITING wasn't the problem... it was the sending. I'm tempted to post the entire email it was that good.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 22, 2011 at 1:24pm

@Bill.  I have a file marked "hate letters"  I write long and glorious letters that start out, "Dear Arrogant Asshole, chickenshit and thief"  Then they get really bad.  Then they sit on my desk for two days.  I go back and read them and think about all the horrible things that would have happened if i had really sent one and laugh at myself.  The only one i ever sent with that salutation was to a politician.  I do however delete them from my computer to be sure they never get sent by accident.


My question is did you respond to that one.  If not and your company will let you perhaps we could help you prepare the appropriate response that could be sent with a notation that this response is a collaborative response from multiple other agency recruiters. to one of our own who dropped the ball.

I like the 4PR.  A lot!


"Are you a third oarty recruiter?"


"No we are forth party recruiters, the 3PR's are still trying to learn how to partner with a client.


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