A longstanding client of ours sought help with a Head of Sales role. My usual contact, the VP HR was especially vague about the role and especially unreliable in communicating anything.
No big deal, we know their business pretty well and were able to draft a job req, source a strong round of talent, and put a few good candidates forward. She interviewed candidates and dismissed each quickly and with no concrete substantiation. No big deal. Onto the next round.
Then she fell out of touch entirely with candidates in process, so it became apparent that something was wrong. As it turned out, she had been recruited by another company and was on her way out when we began talking about the Head of Sales position. She sandbagged our interviews and we later learned that she took one of our candidates with her to the new gig.
I'm not exactly sure what grounds, if any, I stand on. Our fee agreement doesn't include language covering this scenario. Anyone taken action on a similar heist?
You agreed T&C's with her company - not her.
However, if you had a clause for 3rd party introductions (IE she introduced your candidate to anouther employer, as a result of introducing them to her) you may still find you can bill the original client, but dont expect them to use you again.
Personally, tell client whats happened, say its no big thing - "your relationship is more to me in the long term" etc etc. (if its a good client this will mean a lot to them)
Then call the thief who did this and tell them what a low life weezel they are & repeat same process for the candidate who after all has shafted you as much - you'll feel better for it at least.
Russ, your answer would feel good at the moment. But, as usual, Sandra took most of what I was thinking and said it perfectly!
p.s. Sandra - your "instructions" are great! Hope Jeremy keeps us updated on the situation.
Thanks guys. I won't be sending a bill to existing client. Not the fight I want to fight. Sandra, your strategy is much more pragmatic than I've come to expect from you. I was more expecting you to respond with something involving shotguns and antifreeze.
Sound advice yall. Thanks again.
@Jeremy, when it comes to idiots i am big on shotguns and antifreeze. When it comes to clients and money i am so pragmatic i sound like a negotiator for world wars. One never blows up the camp if one ever wants to go that way again :)
The last part of my reply was more of a feel good factor than reality.
The Shot Gun and Anti freeze methods are my wish though....
But in seriousness, it may be a cultural thing, this happens in the UK a lot. A client that does not try and shaft you is rare, and the split fee community virtually dead due to the paraniod view of each other.
Sandras advice is of course the correct way - but for me I dont have the time, simply due to it happening so often. As long as the original client knows whats happened, apriciates I am walking away on this occasion to live anouther day then the most important thing to me, the relationship with the client, is secured.
"One never blows up the camp if one ever wants to go that way again" - @Sandra - spot on, and applies to the individual who did this in the first place as well methinks...
Does the US TPR market have contracts between you and the candidate....? I have a clause in mine that would prevent it, though its rare for us to actually use it.
I would never, EVER consider doing what Sandra suggests here.
The first problem here was in recruiting for a manager that would not take your calls, describe the position or otherwise participate with you in any way. Are you THAT starved for clients right now?
"She interviewed candidates and dismissed each quickly and with no concrete substantiation. No big deal. Onto the next round." < I sure wish you were making this part up Jeremy but it appears not. So - you just keep pouring in resume upon resume with no clear understanding of where the last candidate missed? Is this some sort of recruiting game of pin the tail on the donkey? Man - this stuff just fumes me. Really - it does.
Client: He's not a fit. Send more.
Client: None of your business. Just send more.
Client: Not a fit either. Send more.
Client: Stop asking. None of your business. Just send more.
You should not have been involved in this to begin with. Sorry to seem so harsh here - but these are examples of recruiters clearly not setting a minimum expectation of service/relationship/cooperation.
She is under no agreement whatsoever to not hire that guy. Your agreement (though I'm not
Here's my story about getting screwed, with a satisfying karmic twist toward the end (which, of course, is the optimal time for karma to pop up and wink at you as she dope-slaps your richly deserving adversary). Sorry it's lengthy but I hope you find it enjoyable and maybe even instructive:
A guy I've placed two times winds up at a new firm (not my placement) and brings me into his new organization for a tough medical director search. Great! The relationship investment is paying off. The search goes on for nearly a year and I send them some great candidates who for various reasons don't get offers. I finally land a person who had come highly recommended early in the sourcing process, but who had timing issues. She wows them, accepts their offer (a nice base salary bump for her), and gets rolling.
As a result of my good work I get positive press within the organization. Soon, another division invites me to help them find a science writer PDQ. Fate smiles on me and I bat .1000 on this one-- submit a single great candidate and he accepts an offer one month to the day from my first phone call with the client. The client comes in a bit shy of my guy's base salary expectation and I'm even able to persuade them not to nickel and dime; he gets his full asking price. Smiles all around.
Several weeks down the road, I get a marketing email from the client (I subscribe to stuff like this as a way to stay informed on my clients' businesses). It's actually from the 2nd division I worked with (the science writer job), and it's promoting a new batch of scientific content they've just posted to their new website. What to my wandering eyes should appear but a byline on one of the articles…and it's the name of one of the candidates I had submitted for the medical director search (the first one I did for this company). Realizing that this falls squarely within the language of my agreement (fee owed "if a candidate we refer to you enters into a service relationship with you or your affiliate"), I contact the guy who brought me into the organization to calmly gather some intel. Always better to keep your powder dry at first. I find that they've engaged my person as a freelancer for some project work.
He understandably bumps me up to his boss, the one who signed my agreement. I feel like I'm on firm ground as I have a great fact set, I have a good relationship with this guy, and it's entirely possible that he is not aware of this situation since it happened in the other division. My expectation is that he'll want to make it right. Still, my antennae are fully extended for this call.
He is pretty frosty as I lay things out for him. I'm assertive but polite and professional during the call. He begins making gratuitous assertions: "You've done some good business with our company…how you pursue this is up to you." I can tell I'm up against a blunt instrument. He keeps making this statement, so I conclude that he's trying to say that I should be grateful and let this one slide. His primitive debating skills finally get under my skin (my mistake). I ask, are you saying I should be expected to give away my work product just because I've successfully provided value to a client in the past? He chooses this opening for some selective outrage, saying he's insulted that I think he wants a freebie. I tell him I'm just trying to figure out his point by rephrasing a comment he's made several times during our conversation. By this point in the call, I clearly know the personality type I'm dealing with: a classic blustering hothead who lashes out when he finds himself boxed in by his own words. We end the call with him saying he'll followup with the other division.
I send him an email thanking him for hearing me out, alluding to the goodwill that's been generated over the last year, and express my confidence that we'll be able to arrive at a quick and fair resolution. His reply states that yes, I have brought value and that my call was very professional until I accused him of expecting a freebie. He says it's safe to say they won't be using my services again. I reply asking him if he's kidding and just messing with me. I then contact the hiring manager from the second division by phone and get the clear sense that Hothead has already begun poisoning the well. Hothead then sends me another email, indignantly offering to pay my percentage on the freelancer out of his own pocket (it's a few hundred $$). In the interim, I have had collegial conversations with the 2nd hiring manager and she tells me (credibly, IMO) that HER boss went to school with the freelancer and so while it may not look great from the surface, no underhanded antics were intended. Still believing I have a case, I make a business decision to move on and preserve goodwill with her. I tell Hothead to keep his money as I consider the matter closed. I tell him that it's too bad that things went off the rails but I remain interested in fixing the relationship. Realistically I figure this will never happen. Hotheads never admit fault.
Last week I got a call informing me that the medical director I placed under Hothead had resigned. And yes, it was 3 weeks AFTER the conclusion of her guarantee period. Karma, you sweet thing, you. Hothead emails me and asks for a copy of our agreement and a chat. During that call he says "You've probably heard that our medical director resigned. You're probably aware that it was after the guarantee period…" I interrupt him "Yes, I am very aware of that." <pissed off pause on his end>. He then asks me if I represented her for her new job. I have to admit I never saw that question coming, but my answer is easy and immediate. "No, I did not. In fact, my agreement with you protects you from that. That's not how I conduct business." (If I were him, I would have flown off the handle in indignant outrage, but I don't give others the power to insult me. Loutish statements reflect poorly on the people who make them, not their targets.)
Incredibly, Hothead then tells me that he has an opening that needs to be filled (thank you, Captain Obvious). He says that he's "spoken with about 5 other recruiters" about how they'd handle a drop off just after the guarantee period. Wait for it-- He says that they would all try to work with their client in that situation. He then asks if I will discount my fee as a condition of working on this new assignment. I say that I can't speak for what other recruiters would do (he snappily replies "Well, I can!") and remind him that I extended a discount before the first project. I tell him I see no business rationale for devaluing my work under these circumstances; if anything, this is now a much tougher search than it was before. He then poses it as an ultimatum: "So you won't offer a discount?" "No thank you, I won't be able to do that." Then I'm told once again that they won't be using my services. I resist the urge to laugh and tell him that I'm no worse off than I was before the call began! Can any of you imagine the insanity of taking another search project from this person?
What did I learn from this experience? Frankly, not much. I won't be changing my business practices just because of a fluky situation with an irrational client. Takes all kinds. Notwithstanding the freelancer issue, my agreement was strong and protected the client and myself in key areas. I was actually pleased with myself for being able to move on after this happened, although it does feel good to share/vent it with colleagues. Thanks for listening! --Chris
Chris - good one! I love all the different stories we collect in this business over the years. Thanks.
whoa whoa whoa. Jerry, get yourself a Xanax cocktail and take 'er easy, hot shot. I described my relationship with this client in fewer words than you described my relationship with this client. Obviously, there are aspects of that relationship that don't fit into a 75 word discussion thread. I didn't ask for implications about the quality of my work. I'm probably breaking forum rules by saying it but frankly, I think you read like a pretentious asshole.
Jeremy - I may very well be an ___hole, but pretentious? Not me.
I was only commenting on your description of service. You kept sending candidates to a client that wouldn't give you concrete "rule out" feedback. This happened after you started working on a job order your client wouldn't help you put together......
Did I read that wrong?
Nice read, Chris. You should enter it on the blog, as it deserves better visibility. Thanks for sharing.