Curious how anyone out there might handle the "nail in the coffin" backdoor reference? 

 

In other words you're working for a Client and submit a Candidate that is downright "perfect" (I use this term extremely loosely...as there's never such a thing) for the job however the Hiring Manager receives word from someone he knows that this Candidate shouldn't be interviewed due to him not being "hands-on" enough...?  (The excuse)

 

Granted I don't know the Candidate on a personal level but he's most certainly stellar on the professional level and by looking at his resume (and the 6+ years I have been doing this IT Recruiting thing) know he's definitely hands-on.

 

The first time I got word on it (rejected) I battled it by having the Candidate draft up a detailed cover letter addressing his hands-on capabilities and duties in his current role as well prior position and I still got the "NO"...all because of the random person who doesn't even work there told the VP of IT to pass on him...

 

Has anyone EVER been able to get past this barrier or tried anything that perhaps Im not thinking of?  And what should I tell the candidate...???

 

Thank you guys for any of your ideas/suggestions...Its going to be another beautiful Southern California weekend!

 

-Chase

 

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Nobody?  I guess the weekend has already begun!

the only thing that might work is get references from several employers or supervisors that directly address the objection you have received.  With a backdoor reference you don't know what it is so it may be someone who knows someone at a previous company who hates your candidate for any number of bogus reasons so there is no way you can overcome it.  When murder by gossip happens and your client chooses to believe it it is probably best to go another direction with the candidate.  He would start behind the 8 ball even if you got him placed there because somebody internally would make sure that he had problems if their information where not believed.

 

Consider it a favor that they did not move forward with him and get him in a bad spot to have to overcome backdoor gossip.

Agreed!  Thank you Sandra!!!

 

Chaser,

This nightmare happened to me but with a much worse circumstance than “not being hands-on”.  The “backdoor reference” comment was made by a competitor external recruiter who happened to be in the room when the VP I was serving was bragging about my “perfect find” in a Director Level candidate.  This A-HOLE simple said, “Oh him, he was fired from his last job.”  FIRED is the kiss of death in any candidate hire scenario.  I was fit to be tied, because I did a thorough background check and knew my candidate was never fired by any previous employer—but the news did rock me back.

Long story short, to Sandra’s recommendation—I reconnected with the references I previously contacted and made them available to the hiring VP.  If I hadn’t earned this VP’s respect over the years he probably would have shutdown the hiring process.  He waited to get my feedback which amounted to:  My guy quit his job with a previous unsavory employer, not his last employer—he was never fired.  My stellar references were from academia who verified my candidate was A-1 and they were familiar with his situation.  The kicker was his last employer discovered the same false accusation about my candidate and also verified that it was a false rumor.  I gave the name of the transgressor to my candidate and suggested he consider threatening a defamation lawsuit if this character ever considers spreading false statements again.  Since my candidate was hired no harm was done, but putting the fear of the LORD into this A-HOLE is warranted. 

Sandra’s additional sage advice also applies since the employer gave you an emphatic “NO” when you attempted to prove your candidate’s hands-on experience.  So chalk-it-up as an unfortunate drive-by hit that worked against you.  Suffice it to say that the universe has a strange way of making “what goes around to come around” on the A-HOLE that did this deed.  You may not live to see it, but payback is always waiting for people who play with fire.

Yes Karma can be a vicious b!@C#t...But I have had a revelation and new plan of attack.  Its a small town and work community in this area.  Im going to release the name of the VP of IT to my candidate too see if perhaps they share mutual friendships...Risky (for reasons Im aware of) but Im so determined and havent ever had a placement there so I figure I have nothing to loose.  I will follow up with results and post after completed.

So thinking about this some more (and the risk I'm aware of) Ive decided to pass on this approach and just walk away.  My old self was acting up over the weekend and Lakers getting swept didn't help either.  lol

 

Anyhow maybe there is someone out there who has done what I was thinking of doing and would like to share their results...?

 

-C

This just happened to me. I won't go into much detail but decided to stop working on it immediately. They LOVED the candidate. They interviewed them for 3 hours longer than scheduled.

 

Then the negative, unsolicited backdoor reference happened. The candidate was painted as a loose cannon, psycho. At first, I felt lucky that they uncovered something. However, the client had a "why did you send us this terrible candidate" attitude after clearly giving him their seal of approval after meeting him. 

 

The client is now in my high risk category and I won't risk spending time on their urgent search.

We have probably all thought about it at times when these situations occur and we become aware of a murder by gossip situation.  Take a step back and think about it.  It most probably has nothing to do with the VP of IT.  He/she has probably gotten the word from another employee who worked with your candidate or knows someone who worked with your candidate in the past.  They either do not like your candidate or they believe what they have passed on.  Whateve the situation is it appears that the company has chosen to believe whoever passed on the backdoor reference.  Tracking it down, stirring things up or whatever the result might be would not seem to be a help to anyone.

 

Also consider the possibility that your candidate may have some other flaws that you are not aware of and they have used the "not hands on enough" excuse when it may be something else.

 

I would suggest taking your candidate to a more friendly environment which is in his best interest and finding another candidate for this company which is in their and your best interest.  It is always a temptation to tilt at windmills but it hardly ever helps anyone involved to try and force something in a situation where a backdoor reference  has caused a problem.  Somebody somewhere has an axe to grind.  Why chop off your own foot with someone else's axe?

Unfortunately, this happens all too often.  Having the candidate send a letter is rarely the answer.  When a bad reference shows up, I ask the hiring manager or HR person to check the candidates other references with particular emphasis on the person who called through the back door; it is important for them to get perspective on who that person is and why he/she may have called.  Sometime they will call the other references, sometimes they won't.  If it is HR and they have already told the hiring manager, they will rarely go back on their previous communication for fear of losing face.  Hopefully, the good ones will call you first and ask for comments or perspective.  Hard to find anyone who is in the business for a long period of time who does not have detractors.  Reminds me of my post last week about the overzealous recruiter.  I have had candidates call and try to knock out their competition that way (one of the many reasons I advise people not to discuss their interviewing with "friends".
That really blows that it had to happen after the interview and that they couldn't trust their own feelings and judgement (however its also a blessing that the candidate got the interview and that they interviewed him for as long as they did).  Because now they're obviously just as
much at fault for not recognizing this in the 3+ hours of interviews
with him.  They cant fall on the sword and are looking for an escape goat...Guess who that lucky goat gets to be...The Recruiter.  Yayyyy
Scott Pugh said:

This just happened to me. I won't go into much detail but decided to stop working on it immediately. They LOVED the candidate. They interviewed them for 3 hours longer than scheduled.

 

Then the negative, unsolicited backdoor reference happened. The candidate was painted as a loose cannon, psycho. At first, I felt lucky that they uncovered something. However, the client had a "why did you send us this terrible candidate" attitude after clearly giving him their seal of approval after meeting him. 

 

The client is now in my high risk category and I won't risk spending time on their urgent search.

I wasn't clear enough in my previous answer.  When I get a negative reference on a candidate (sometimes even from names the candidate provided), i redouble my efforts, sometimes even calling back people I had previously spoken to to determine the nature of the relationship between my candidate and the person who gave the negative reference.  If there is a negative, I will also ask my other references, including the people I had previously called, to comment on the negative issue.  On a few occasions I have found out it was true, but mostly, the others will come up with a plausible explanation for the negativity.

 

I once had a creative director at an ad agency tell me that an account guy was lazy.  I called six different people to get a read on that.  All of the others - people the account guy worked for and people who worked with him as well as two clients - said that he was decidedly not lazy.  Then I spoke to a seventh reference who put it in perspective.  Of course the creative director said that.  The client fired the agency because of poor creative work (actually a rare reason for terminating an ad agency).  The creative guy, in order to shield himself from criticism, had developed an entirely false scenario which blamed the account person for the loss of the account.  Made sense to me.  Fortunately, to my client as well.

Agree again Sandra...as mentioned my old self was acting up over the weekend.  So I went out and found other candidates that merit consideration and one of the replies I get after submittal..."Our IT Staff needs to be 20-30 miles within our location"....AYFKM!  The guy lives 40 miles away (I Goggled it) ...In fact is willing to relocate himself closer should the commute prove to be a headache..."And we're not considering any candidates that are willing to relocate themselves"..............

 

lost for words and actually feel bad for them...This position has been open for a long time...It will continue to be.

 

-C

 

Sandra McCartt said:

We have probably all thought about it at times when these situations occur and we become aware of a murder by gossip situation.  Take a step back and think about it.  It most probably has nothing to do with the VP of IT.  He/she has probably gotten the word from another employee who worked with your candidate or knows someone who worked with your candidate in the past.  They either do not like your candidate or they believe what they have passed on.  Whateve the situation is it appears that the company has chosen to believe whoever passed on the backdoor reference.  Tracking it down, stirring things up or whatever the result might be would not seem to be a help to anyone.

 

Also consider the possibility that your candidate may have some other flaws that you are not aware of and they have used the "not hands on enough" excuse when it may be something else.

 

I would suggest taking your candidate to a more friendly environment which is in his best interest and finding another candidate for this company which is in their and your best interest.  It is always a temptation to tilt at windmills but it hardly ever helps anyone involved to try and force something in a situation where a backdoor reference  has caused a problem.  Somebody somewhere has an axe to grind.  Why chop off your own foot with someone else's axe?

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