A Hire Story

As a contingency recruiter, I work on job campaigns for companies that are looking to hire candidates for their open positions. These campaigns typically take from 30 to 90 days to complete.

I only get paid if I successfully recruit a candidate for a given position and assuming the candidate stays on the job for a minimum period, (aka “hiring guarantee“), which could range from 30-90 days.

Recently I worked on a difficult job search for a highly specialized software engineering position. I spent 60 days on that job search before being able to identify a strong candidate. This candidate was motivated to leave his employer of 6 years, because his work had evolved taking on other management and operational responsibilities that he didn’t want to do. When asked if had approached his boss with this information, he said he did, but nothing was done to change things. I asked him whether this was a resource problem (i.e. not enough people, money,…etc) and he said, “Yes it is.” His conclusion was that this issue wasn’t going to be fixed, and as such, he wanted out of the company.

The job and the company we presented to this candidate seem to fit the bill. They were a more established company with the resources to hire more people and allow him to solely focus on the software programming role he was keen on doing.

After multiple rounds of interviews by phone and in-person with fellow engineers, the hiring manager as well as the CEO, provided a unanimous vote to offer the candidate the job. When the candidate received the offer, he was so happy he was on cloud nine. After all, his offer was at least a 20-30% increase in pay, over his current salary. He would get to play the role of engineer and be with a more established company.

He said he needed a couple of days to think about it. Then he asked for an additional week extension to think about the offer. I thought to myself, “What’s there to think about. This should be a no brainer.”     So, I asked him why he needed more time? He said his boss wanted to meet with him to discuss his leaving the company. I asked him if he had second thoughts about leaving his employer and he said no, but that he liked and cared for the company and wanted to do right by them.

Two days later he sent an email saying that his current employer matched his offer with a counter offer and he had accepted it.

For those not familiar with the term counter offer, it is when a company offers an employee more money to try to prevent him from moving to another company where they have been offered a job.

I called and left a him a voice message to contact me to discuss his decision but he didn’t respond. My reaction was one of loss and confusion, as I thought this was a done deal. This wasn’t the first time this happened in my recruiting career; but in those other cases I saw it coming, but not this time. I felt there was more to this story than meets the eye.

Over the weekend, I went over all my recruiting notes and communications with the candidate to analyze if there were any prior signs or clues that would point to this outcome. I concluded that this candidate had no intention of leaving his existing employer and he just wanted to get a better job offer that he could in turn and present to his employer, so he could receive a counter offer. I felt played and my time wasted. I told myself this candidate was dishonest about his intention of wanting to leave his employer and in reality, he was planning to stay put; and not even leave his current job.

Later I thought to myself, “What would I have done if this candidate had told me from the start about his real intentions?  (i.e.  wants a better offer, but not planning to leave his job.)  I would have told him, “I appreciate your honesty, but I can’t help you. It’s not in my interest and good luck to you.”

In his case, being up-front and honest would mean no recruiter would help him in his goal of getting that desired salary raise and probably other improvements. What would I do if I were in his situation?  Knowing me, I would most likely leave that employer because even though I’m a dedicated and valuable employee, if after 6 years, the company isn’t worth my dedication if it doesn’t find fit to pay what I’m truly worth and would only do so if pressured and faced with the reality of my leaving.

What would you do if you were in this candidate’s situation?

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