HR on the Warpath. Not pretty, and potentially dangerous. Like an elephant gone mad with no concern for damage inflicted on others or himself, this person is bent on destruction.
Short Back story.
Our client needed to hire someone who could be the director over several facilities. The position is new. We recruited several candidates. The candidate that they were interested in was currently making 125,000. 125,000 was the most this client wanted to pay. The candidate is expecting a promotion and raise in January, which would bring him to around 135. We approached the candidate about taking a lateral. The candidate refused to interview for the position.
The client wanted the candidate anyway. The VP of Everything was going to change the job, make it bigger, better, and worth more. Yes, it was agreed that they would pay the 135,000 that our candidate required.
Our candidate was delighted to take two days off from work to interview. After the individual interviews, panel interviews, wining and dining, he couldn't wait to take the job.
Yep, the amount the candidate turned down before starting the interview process. The amount that was turned down before the flights, hotels, time off, etc.
Knock, knock? is anyone home?
After explaining to HR why the offer might be considered an insult, HR responded by sending us a Salary.com comparison. Of course, Salary.com is a wonderful tool but flawed. Not all titles are equal in all companies. And, this on line estimate was for one location, not 5. And, our candidate is a PhD. Etc. etc.
Definitely apples and oranges.
I hate to split hairs, but the candidate clearly declined to interview if the offer was going to be one dime under 135.
HR responded with: "I'm insulted. It's a good offer, and he should take it. I am insulted that your candidate is just fishing for more money." HR was insulted? Can anyone spell cognitive dissonance?
Bring in the Offer Team
Internally, we have a team of experienced recruiters who readdress offers that have been, or are likely to be, turned down. The team met, and agreed to an offer plan. The offer plan allows us to present the offer in a way that will be less disappointing, and the opportunity better understood. The team assists the recruiter in presenting the offer.
1. Our first step:
Establish that the offer is dead. No getting hopes up, or emotionally involved. Our candidate turned down the offer. It's done.
2. Start over:
A member of the offer team would step in for our original recruiter, and start from scratch. Every step of our discovery process is performed again, with a different set of ears.
4. Present all economic data, location information again to the candidate
5. Conference call with the candidate and spouse to confirm commitment, and discuss possible issues.
6. Mend the damage done. Reaffirm the candidates positive feelings for the company. Soothe anger, and negativity. Don't let the candidate blame the company for a dismal offer.
7. Prepare the candidate and spouse for less than expected. Everyone involved needs to be realistic; candidate and employer.
8. Take a hard look at the possibility of a lateral offer. Test the offer.
Wait a day. Take a deep breath.
Presenting the Offer
The candidate was furious. And, insulted. He called the offer disingenuous, and blamed our client for putting him through the charade. He did agree that he wanted the job, but what happened to the companies' commitment to him? "Why the low offer? Did the VP know about this? She couldn't know about this, he insisted."
Under normal circumstances, my job is to make sure that client and candidate present themselves in the brightest possible light. Everyone makes mistakes, we are flawed beings. Changing jobs is an emotional time.
My motto is:
When anyone misses the mark, I'll take the blame.
I couldn't take the blame on this one. This was not the time to blow smoke and tap dance.
The candidate was furious with what was supposed to be his new employer. If this was the way things were going during the offer process, what will happen when he takes over the job? Will it always be like this?
"Pawn stars." I said, HR must watch Pawn Stars."
"Perhaps this is her low-ball offer. Maybe she didn't believe you, or me about your salary needs. She probably thought you were stretching the truth about the promotion and raise you are expecting in Jan. She might think we 'high-balled' her. (I'm not sure of the terminology, sounds like a drink my grandparents enjoyed) She's not insulting you, she is trying to make the best deal for her company, and has learned negotiation by watching Pawn Stars. Or Million Dollar Listing. Absurd negotiation is in vogue right now."
The silence was deafening. Perhaps this was not the best argument. Creative, but not the best.
The candidate, who by the way has a PhD, finally spoke. He had had enough.
"I refuse to talk about this!" The candidate raised his voice.
What's your bottom line?, I asked.
"Do you understand that I have a job? A good job. I have neglected my job, sacrificed my vacation days that I could have spent with my family, and I haven't hung the Christmas lights yet? My wife is demanding that I attend every pageant, parade or song fest for my three kids. I'm done. I refuse to talk one more minute about the offer that I am not going to accept."
"Before this, I would have taken a less than 135, he continued. I wanted the job. Now, I won't take one penny less. I've been lied to and strung along. I still can't believe that the VP, who I will report to, knows about this."
Just to make sure where we stood:
"Not to push the subject, but if I can get 135, will you start in January?
Time to Stroke the Elephant
HR is, again, insulted about the rejection. Super insulted. We pushed for the 135, is there any way?
I'll take this to the VP of everything, and I'm sure she won't approve it, he'll never get 135. If anything, I won't pay more than 130.
"It's not going to happen," she flatly said. "But I'll tell the VP"
Down Comes the First Foot
On Friday, at 4:30, HR writes a short e-mail saying 135 is fine. But, she needed an answer before end of business today, or the offer would be pulled. She gave us 30 minutes.
The candidate accepted Saturday morning, when we reached him.
Everyone should be happy, right?
Everyone but Ms. Insulted. She is now on the war path.
Second swing with her trunk
Insulted contacted the candidate immediately and told him not to talk to his Bio Brain recruiter. Insulted insisted that they should work together from now on. The candidate, who doesn't have a good taste in his mouth about Insulted, informed her that he liked his BBR, and would like to be able to work through her.
CRUNCH Head bunt with a double foot stomp
Insulted sent the new written offer to be signed. The offer specifically states that this is the final offer, and all points from the previous offer are null and void.
Insulted omitted relocation expenses from the 'final offer'. Now we have the second offer of 135, but the moving expenses are not paid.
Insulted is trying to kill this placement.
We'll get this done, I have no doubt about that. If you plan to negotiate like a Pawn Star, you better know what the item is worth. If you plan is just to offer nothing for everything, you end up with a lot of junk. Craftier negotiators will scoop you every time.
Our candidate is in demand, and can have another offer within a month.
If Insulted wins this battle, and destroys the placement, the recruiters don't lose. We move on. The candidate is the prize, and we know that. We know the value of the candidate. We already have another place for him.
If Insulted wins her battle, her employer loses. The loss is enormous to her employer. But Insulted doesn't care. Insulted has been scorned by Bio-Brain. Our candidate rejected her offer. In her mind, we won. Insulted is incensed. And, you, her employer, will never know this happened.
When Insulted went on the rampage, she felt no pain. She protects herself by not allowing hiring managers to talk to the recruiting firm. She is in the middle, and slaps down anyone who tries to 'go around' her.
Insulted is clearly trying to destroy this placement.
And, you let her get away with it.
Someone needs to retrain Insulted. Who is monitoring this person? Does anyone know her metrics? How many offers have been turned down? Why? When an offer is rejected, do you have a process in place that enables you to pinpoint the problem and fix it? Or, is she always in charge, like in this situation?
I'm embarrassed for you. You should know this is happening at your company. We won't call to tell you, nobody cares to be the messenger.
If you insist, I'll send you the paper trail.