How does one work with a client who insists on a "trial period"?

I have been recruiting for 25+ years and just came across a new issue.  If anyone has suggestions, I would really appreciate the help.


I am dealing with the American subsidiary of an Asian company.  They are looking to hire a COO.  The compensation is about $300k, so it is pretty senior.  Now that they have started interviewing candidates, they are telling the candidates that they have a policy of a 90 day trial period.  This is, of course, a turn-off to all the people I have sent.  It severely limits the candidate pool to those who are currently not working.  I have never had this issue.


Does anyone have a creative way of dealing with it?  I suggested to the client that they agree to a one year contract which does not kick in until 90 days, but that only diffuses the issue and does not solve the problem.


We all know that absent a contract, people are employed "at will".  Any thoughts on a creative way of handling this thorny issue would be appreciated. 


Views: 101

Comment by Julie Closter on April 5, 2011 at 2:57pm
Most companies that I recruit for have a 90 day "probationary period."  I like your idea. But instead of them calling the 90 days a "trial period", they need to change it "probationary." Sometimes it's the way things are said and not so much as what they mean.
Comment by pam claughton on April 5, 2011 at 6:24pm

I agree with Julie, it's all in how you say it. It's a given that the first 90 days are a probationary period with just about everyone whether it's specified or not.

Comment by Jerry Albright on April 6, 2011 at 9:20am

@ C.B. - I've got to ask - is that really your advice?  We're talking about COO candidates here for a global company.... 


"Get in there and do a good job so you can keep your big fat fee"?  Seriously?

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on April 6, 2011 at 10:15am
Thank you, Jerry.  Was thinking the same thing.
Comment by Tom Dimmick on April 6, 2011 at 10:19am
Paul - I worked for Samsung for 9 years in a senior HR role. The cultural differences are huge.  I suspect you are dealing with an established policy, the requirement for which has been forgotten but the policy remains. I can only suggest that you attempt to engage your client in a discussion and try to get at the root cause.  Good luck!
Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on April 6, 2011 at 10:24am
Tom, could you call me?  Would like to discuss your perspective.
Comment by Elie Klachkin on April 6, 2011 at 11:25am

Paul - can you find out if they have track in "fast turnover"? At this level, hiring with a conditional trial period is very uncommon.


Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on April 6, 2011 at 11:36am

For COO they understand their role.....Most of them have sign deals like this in the past. Bust of luck with your placement...

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 6, 2011 at 11:41am
Paul, I ran into this situation working with a japanese com pay hiring a U S operations officer. I talked with my candidates about what they wanted to do. As the interviews developed the top candidate explained to them that as he understood the job, they needed someone who could represent them in the US according to the way business was done here. As part of that responsibility it would be his job to see that they were able to hire and retain top employees etc.etc. He made it part of the interview process to explain to them how top execs were hired here. As they talked he was able to work out his own employment agreement that gave both parties a comfort level. As their main focus was to do things correctly here thus the need for the hire of this level person they liked his approach so it worked. Perhaps your candidates who understand working for a foreign owned company are the best way to overcome this bump in the road.
Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on April 6, 2011 at 11:44am
Than ks, Sandra. That is great perspective.


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