Why Did My Potential Client Disappear?

Hi everyone! So, I just started a new job in April with a GREAT firm. I am now responsible for working both sides of the desk. This is my first experience with client development, so I wanted some helpful tips. I met a director of HR for a local company at a professional networking event. She told me she was looking for a corporate recruiter that has experience specific to the industry she works in. Within a day, I found her an AMAZING candidate (name blocked out of course because at that point, there was no fee agreement in place). She picked up the phone and was excited about the resume I sent to her. I sent her the fee agreement and her interest level seemed to drop from 10 to 0. She said she forwarded the agreement to legal, then that was the last I heard from her. I'm wondering what I did wrong and how you all handle situations like these. It will be going on a week now and I don't want to lose my star candidate.Thank you in advance! 

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Comment by Gail on May 21, 2013 at 4:49pm


Recruiting is sales.  People lie, cheat and steal if given the chance.  Make sure you cover the basics of selling and get an upfront agreement on what will happen next.  This should save you a lot of heartache in the future.

Comment by Pam Sisson on May 21, 2013 at 5:19pm

I think at this point, I'd call and just have an honest conversation with her.  I'd start the conversation with something along the lines of, I just wanted to touch base with you because I know you were initially very excited about the resume that I sent you.  I just wanted to be sure that your requirements haven't changed or that there isn't some other problem that would prevent us with moving forward to schedule the interview.  I think this really opens the door for her to be up front about any issues she may have with the fee agreement, or if management has put a stop to her use of a recruiter at all.  You certainly have nothing to lose at this point.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 21, 2013 at 5:35pm

were you at an HR/Recruiting networking event? She was probably just looking to network - maybe you (as a recruiter) would be interested in her role, or you might know someone... I could definitely see a scenario where she thought you'd just pass along to your network and not actually undertake a search. Next time just ask - "are you looking to engage a search firm, or are you just hoping I know someone?" Since she's fallen off the map she probably doesn't have approval to pay a fee. At this point I would just play dumb and send her a nice email asking if you misunderstood her intent - what you took as a "job order" could have just been conversation on her part.

Comment by Cristina Lewis on May 21, 2013 at 6:04pm

Hi Amy. That could very much be the case. Woops!

Comment by Barbara Goldman on May 21, 2013 at 7:03pm

A week?  I see nothing wrong here. You are working with the person who must get the contract signed, not sign the contract. I've waited a month in those cases. Legal is busy, you are going to have to wait.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on May 21, 2013 at 8:32pm
You may have also shot yourself in the foot by sending a "blind resume". If she recognized the background on the resume, knows the person and thought, "rats I dudn't know Sally was looking. She can certainly pick up the phone and call Sally. You would not have a leg to stand on since the resume you sent had no nme or contact info on it.

I know some people send blind resumes. My take has always been that if I can't trust anyone enough to provide them with full info on a candidate I have no business working with or for them. With no discussion about fee or name of candidate provided you have not submitted anybody and you put yourself in the position of having to tell your candidate that you really didn't have the authority to submit her resume. You had a partial request for help but you really didn't have a listing.

All that being said, Barb may be totally right. I have listened to the wind blow through the canyon for weeks before the legals sprinkle pixie dust on anything with more that four lines of type. Give it a few days and ask if she has heard anything fom legal yet, if she says no, ask her if she thinks there is a problem with legal approving it and see how it plays out.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 21, 2013 at 9:18pm

of course the likelihood that candidate is still on the market in a month or two... well who knows.

I only shared my .02 because I did actually make that mistake once :) So if that is the case here (and who knows) at least you're not alone! Let us know what happens.

Comment by Christopher Perez on May 22, 2013 at 9:47am

Cristina, I read your post yesterday and my reaction was in line with several of the previous comments about addressing fee right up front. Then today I read this article on LinkedIn and it seemed to have some wisdom that was relevant to this discussion (and worth sharing). Bottom line-- don't hear what you want/hope to hear, hear what you need to hear when it comes to conversations like this.


Comment by Leah Olsen on May 22, 2013 at 10:19am

I agree with what has been said, especially Sandra's advice. 

I want to address your fear of being "money hungry".  As an entire industry, Recruiters MUST not apologize for the cost (VALUE!) of our services.  After 1.5 years of owning my own recruiting firm I can say that the money does NOT come easily.  You found a candidate in a day, good for you!  But that is just the tip of the iceberg, as you have seen.  Recruiting all the way to the end takes perseverance.  And if you are not working for an agency or someone who pays you a salary, you get nothing until the deal is done (oftentimes months) plus 30-60-90 days!  So you really learn fast to cover your butt up front and stop apologizing for the cost of bringing a terrific and professional service to companies that have a need. 

I wish you very well!  I also want to warn you that there are thousands of "potential clients' out there who realize that they can get you to go away and do work for them for free if they dangle a carrot of an open job.  So get the contract out there, figure out deliverables and timelines, decide if the job is even worth working on, and then you will have to work your butt off to make that fee materialize in the end!!  Good luck and have fun!

Comment by Cindy J. Biter on May 22, 2013 at 10:39am

Don't give up just yet.  If she forwarded it to legal, it may take some time.  I've had legal take up to two weeks, depending upon the size of the company.  Wait a day or two, then give her a call.  Tell her that you're just following up, that the last time you talked, you understand that she had sent the fee agreement to the legal dept. You're just touching base to see if  she had heard anything.  Remember, recruiting is your only job, but it's not their only job.  


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