The REKRUTR Vault: The Candidate That Stalked Me

This week I want to talk about those candidates who stalk us. You know the candidate I mean. They are the one you ask the lady at the front desk to send directly to voice mail. I use the word stalk in fun really. Mine has never threatened me. We have a love/hate relationship. Let me explain:

We had a thing once. By "thing" I mean I had a really hard to fill job order this guy was perfect for. He met the criteria, so I sold him on it. He was gainfully employed but motivated to make a move by a boss that was intimidated by just how great he was. My, client loved him and they were willing to pay whatever it took to get him. Therefore, I loved him too. He represented that one huge fee we all dream about landing and I had already spent the whole thing before the invoice was even submitted.

Then it happened. The unexpected call from my client immediately put me on guard. "No! “They found the dreaded internal candidate. The last minute, "I'm so sorry, but they didn't hear about them until today", internal candidate. This is the search consultant's worst nightmare. Despite my pleas to the client regarding why it was a mistake to let this candidate go in lieu of the internal transfer, policy won. The placement was not going to happen. I got the other job order, but this candidate would never be willing to step down to that position.

The break up call to that candidate was the hardest I've ever made. He almost cried on the phone. I felt physically nauseous after. It was my first lesson as a recruiter in why you never get emotionally involved in the placement process. It was also my first lesson in why you don't tell a candidate to "keep in touch," when what you really mean is "Don't call me. I'll call you."

"Stay in touch,” I told him when I hung up the phone. Today when I think of that call it plays out in slow motion in my head. You know, like a television replay. It plays back in my mind like the guy that misses his pass despite the perfect athletic form he has during the attempt to catch it.  The truth is I only said that to be nice. The chance I would have another opportunity to present this candidate was slim. I could market him to new clients in a different industry, but my niche was pretty narrow. So in the end, I realize that his so-called stalking was sort-of my fault. You see, he thought I really wanted him to stay in touch.

He continued to call me once a day. "What do you have for me?" he would ask. "Any new leads?"

"I'm sorry. I will call you if I find anything." The guilt of not being able to help this guy was killing me. I hated him for making me say, "I'm sorry I can't help you," every single day. I avoided him for several days in a row. But he continued to call at least once or twice a week.

Then it occurred to me. This guy knew everyone. He was one of those rare connector people that made friends wherever he went. After all, there was a reason I built a relationship with this guy in the first place. Just because he didn't fit my other job descriptions didn't mean he didn't know someone who did. So I did it. I used him! I used him for his contacts. It was so easy. In my defense, he let me!

“I don't have anything that matches your experience, but while I have you on the phone, can you help me? WHO DO YOU KNOW at ABC Company?"  Of course he knew people. This was his industry. He was great. He enjoyed working with me and despite our deal falling through, he wanted to help me. I trusted his opinion and enjoyed his insight. Over the period of more than a year, I presented him to clients a few times, but it just never worked out. I still avoided his calls, but when he did catch me "to see what the market for jobs was like", I shamelessly asked him for every referral I could get. I actually made at least two great placements as a direct result of one of his leads.

Do you have a candidate that you avoid; your own personal "stalker"? Care to share any crazy stories? Do you ask them for referrals? Have you told them you can't help them?

Amy McDonald  is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360° 

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Comment by Gail on March 27, 2013 at 5:10pm


I think it's a karma thing.  The more you are willing to give, eventually you will receive (or have).  Some people just want to be helpful and you were obviously filling a need for this candidate or he would have stopped taking your calls.  Who knows maybe one of the contacts he gave you eventually got him in touch with the right job!

Comment by Amanda on March 28, 2013 at 10:00am

How come you didn't offer him a job to work for you? He had all the contacts, even if it was temporary to help you, you could have shared a fee and maybe he would have found a new career path out of it. It sounds like it could have been a win win and if he was looking for so long and couldn't get anywhere with his vast contact list, you could have helped him wiht a job after all.


Comment by Amy McDonald on March 28, 2013 at 10:58am

Gail- I agree. The last I knew of he was still at his company. I suspect he was "meant" to be there and the issues that bothered him at the time dissipated. Amanda- That would definitely be a great option in the right skill set. I was a rookie recruiter back then, and not in the position to do so. He was in a high level healthcare role, so the skill set wasn't really a match and I don't think he would have been satisfied with it long term anyway. He knew a lot of people though! 


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