How a bad recruiter can ruin your deal.

I know, I know, before I get a million comments about being MIA, let me explain - I am busy damn it!

Ok, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I want to talk about a issue that is very close to my heart and should be close to all of yours - The Candidate Experience. I don't think I have to mention how crucial a positive candidate experience is in closing your deals. We've all had clients that screw up the interview process by rescheduling last minute, making the candidate pay for their own travel for the interview, making a candidate wait in a lobby alone for 2 hours before someone comes out to meet them - yes, we've all heard those stories.

But what about the stories where the recruiter screws the pooch on a search and the result is a horrible candidate experience which costs the client the hire? GASP - did she really say it? Yes, yes I did.

Recently a friend of mine was passively looking around to see what other opportunities there might be out there for him. Keep in mind, he is a highly talented digital media professional that most companies would KILL to have - he's one of those unicorns you just can't pass up when they land on your doorstep. He was contacted by a TPR on behalf of a major electronics corporation regarding a senior level position within the company's internal marketing agency. He had a phone interview with the TPR, then the TPR had to have her Account Manager do a phone interview with him. THEN he had to go meet both of them in-person, all before ever speaking to or meeting with the client. Ok, fine. I understand wanting to make sure your candidate doesn't have two heads or something. He told both the recruiter and the account manager what his salary requirements were - well in advance - and what he'd be looking for to make a move from his current company. Although what he was looking for was higher than their original search req, they said they qualified it with the client and they were good to go because with his qualifications and experience, they would be willing to go above their initial salary range. Everyone was seemingly on the same page.

He goes in for his in-person meeting with the client. There he met with the hiring manger, and two other peer-level employees. Everything went great. Although the hiring manager ran out of time, she wanted to do a followup call with him. After a round or two of phone-tag, it seemed that everything was a green for go and both the hiring manager and my friend were excited to move forward.

Awesome right? W-R-O-N-G! After a day or so, the company's internal recruiter (not the TPR) came to my friend with his "oh-so-awesome-offer." It was lowballed by 10k - that's right, 10k below what he said his MINIMUM requirement to make a move was. When he advised the TPR that this was unacceptable, she said "Do you want me to go back and try and get more money?" Um, yes? She went back to the company to try to get the offer upped - but the next correspondence looked like this: "This is what they said (see below.) 10k is quite a jump, if he can't see this as a great opportunity, then maybe he's not what we are looking for." Yes, folks - she FORWARDED the email from their Director of Operations, whom the candidate had never even met or spoken to, verbatim. She then asked him, "Well, do you want me to go back and try and get more money? What's it going to take for you to take this job? The Director of Operations is kind of a jerk, so don't let that email get you down." What's it going to take for you to take this job? Isn't that what a minimum salary requirement is meant to do? Tell you exactly that? It should - but this TPR was reaching. She never vetted his salary requirement with the client - she misrepresented him to the client and then turned around and misrepresented the client to the candidate. This my friends, is what you call "Screwing the Pooch."

By this point, my friend was so over the entire thing, he declined the offer, declined to continue talks and declined to ever have that TPR represent him again. The company lost a fantastic hire - a unicorn hire - because of the incompetence of their third party representation. The entire process was such a mess, the impression he was given by the recruiter of the Director of Ops, and in turn of the company as a whole was so negative, the candidate walked away. Not only did they not make this hire, the experience was so bad the word on the street will continue to haunt them for many moons to come.

The morale of this story? If you use a third party partner, make sure they know what they are doing. If you are a third party partner, don't screw the pooch.

Views: 188

Comment by Jamie Shimek on March 6, 2008 at 2:41pm
Great blog! And to that...third party is a saturated market with "talented recruiters" out there, treat them as potential employers too...stop the being cut throat and doing dirty might work for them one day!
Comment by Nataliya Voronina on March 7, 2008 at 7:37am
Well, not only third party recruiters can srew up the whole thing! Isn't it funny when the corporate recruiter doesn't know, that Green Card holder and permanent resident is the same stuff? Or that TN visa doesn't need sponsorship from potential employer? I feel ridiculous when I have to explain such things to internal recruiters :-)

Well, I have a good story when the cand screwed up the whole thing. For almost 4 months he was flying from one state to the other for interviews, and was among the 3 top cands selected by the company out of smth like a 100. And when it came to making and accepting the offer, the cand suddenly remembered he preferred the eastern coast vs. the western one :-(

Ok, and what abt 4 months of interviewing? And those were very serious interviews, with 5-10 ppl involved simultaneously ((((

This being said, there are both unpredictable corporate recruiters, third party recruiters and candidates as well..
Comment by Ragan Kellams on March 7, 2008 at 9:13am
I agree - as I have been all three (TPR, corp in-house, and a candidate,) I have experienced probably every instance of one or the other ruining a deal. I am not saying that only one or the other can screw things up, this was just one story of how a bad TPR that doesn't have their s*#t together can really hurt a company.


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