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 Amy Ala Miller on December 28, 2011 at 1:09pm

Hi Bill, thanks for commenting. I think part of your response was cut off, but I do want to address a couple of points. First of all, I think we (mostly) agree. As far as the hiring manager being a flake - Schultz will probably say I'm the last person to defend hiring managers but in this case the TPR had the exact profile of what we were would looking for and what would be considered a rockstar. None of the candidates he submitted came close. In fact, one candidate we had already interviewed in person and rejected. Not sure if he didn't bother to ask her or if she decided not to disclose that information but at any rate someone at some point failed to communicate. I'm sure someone will argue that I should have given him a list of the hundred people we've rejected but the reality is had he done his due diligence he would have known she already interviewed with us.


I have been completely transparent with the good and the bad of this search and the "story" - I still can't control how he is delivering that message to his recruiters and potential candidates. Unfortunately we learned the hard way that this is not an agency we want to partner with.


You are correct we have allowed him to submit resumes. I have been delivering timely and constructive feedback throughout the process, even coaching him on how to present the candidates - something his boss should be doing, not his customer. The bottom line is this TPR is indeed a "sales goon" trying to salvage his first ever job order.


Luckily I know the value of a good TPR and we have another agency working on it. These guys are true professionals and we talk a few times a week. They haven't submitted any candidates yet but that's because they're not throwing crap at me and then complaining when I don't like the crap they've shown me. This punk kid could learn a thing or two about recruiting and how to partner with a company. The only mistake I've made in this process is hiring him in the first place.

Comment by Bill Ward on December 31, 2011 at 5:19am

Let's be honest. When you work with contingency recruiters, you haven't hired anyone. You can cut them lose anytime and not owe them a dime. They work for free until you actually decide to hire one of their candidates. If you expect loyalty from a contingency recruiter, you're barking up the wrong tree. They follow the money. If they can get a higher fee from one of your competitors or another company outside your industry, you're SOL. Your candidate is no longer exclusive...and that's not a pleasant place to be when your hiring manager wants you to make an offer and make it happen.

I'm confused. Help me understand this. If none of the candidates came close as you describe, why would you feel compelled to coach him on how to present subpar candidates to your hiring manager? 

I'm also curious why you felt the need to engage an additional, unproven TPR when you supposedly have a tried and true TPR that has proven their ability to not waste your time and deliver solid candidates? If I had that kind of relationship, I would give them first opportunity and not put them in competition with some shady firm throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks.  


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