Ring . . . a call, right before the holidays.
Bio-Brain, this is Patsy. I wanted to let you know that we terminated your candidate that started seven weeks ago. Call me, I'm on my way out the door and won't be back until after the first.
This happens. It's part of our business, and we chalked it up to a bad fit. We specialize in this area and had several people to call. We could fill it right away. Although fall offs are not a happy occasion, since we are specialists replacements are not difficult.
Over the holiday vacation, we had the recruiting team working to find a replacement.
Monday after the Holidays rolled around. The conference call was at 10. We were prepared with replacement candidates, complete with resumes, references and interview times.
All Dressed up, nowhere to go.
The recruiter who led the recruiting effort and I called Patsy. We were feeling pleased with ourselves, we were going to knock her socks off with our efforts!
We all said hi. Everyone was happy.
I started with:" What happened with our candidate? We obviously sent you the wrong person, and I want to make sure that you hire the right person this time."
I expected concrete answers about performance, etc, but I didn't get that. I got a lot of chatter, but what it boiled down to is; they didn't like her. Maybe her personal style didn't fit. Period. Bad Match.
No problem. This is part of our job. Personality fit is critical, and we were ready to replace her.
Let me tell you about someone that we recruited for you, I wanted to focus on the replacement.
The Battle Begins
"We don't want a replacement", we want our money back. She continued, "I read the contract and it states that I can either get a replacement, or my money back. I want my money back.
"How will you fill the job?" I asked.
"I'm going with an interim candidate". This will be a long, one year assignment".
"We have candidates". Why didn't you ask us? We have people right now for you to interview, and we also have interim candidates, if that is what you want.
I'm going with an interim candidate from a different firm. The decision has been made.
I think this is the part she didn't like
"Why would you replace a permanent candidate with an interim? It will cost your company three times more, with per diem, housing, the markup, etc., when we can replace and it won't cost you a dime", I honestly wanted to know. The absurdity of the decision was confusing.
"I don't think you get it, We signed the contract for the Interim. When will l receive the check?", she sneered.
We were being dumped and there was nothing I could do. I have had a contract with this particular client for around 10 years. I hadn't read it in a while, and didn't feel comfortable to discuss it until I reviewed it.
"If the contract states that you are due a refund, it's what we will do, but I need to review the contract, and take it to our controller."
"Well, the contract says . . ."
I couldn't stand it a moment longer, I cut her off.
"I will look at the contract that I have with corporate, and I will comply with whatever it says."
I promised that we would talk the following day to put the matter to rest.
So, I trotted the paperwork into our controller's office, and asked if he could handle it right away. I was glad to be rid of it. Glad to wash this bird brain off my hands. I wouldn't call her back tomorrow, I'll have him do it. He could handle the refund, I needed to move on.
People like that wear me out, and I'd rather stay in a happy place.
Dealing with the wounded
Back at the ranch, the candidate who was fired called me. She was quite unhappy. You would be too if you relocated 1500 miles away, moved everything, and quit a good job only to be fired seven weeks later.
She cried. She had never been fired before, and all they told her at the exit interview was that she lacked leadership skills. She has been a director for the past 15 years. Her references are impeccable.
She asked me to find out what happened. She wanted to know why she was let go.
I started asking her various questions, perhaps she could think about specifics, and gain insight. I wanted to know, who did she work with? Who liked her? What meetings did she attend? What was her role? Did anyone criticize her work? Was she left out of meetings? Which ones? Was anyone else left out? Did anyone complement her work? Who? As she talked, I listened.
It dawned on me what happened. Not to get into all the details, but it was obvious that the company was going in a different direction. My guess was that the company had decided to merge the technical director position with the clinical director position.
If I was right, I wasn't offered the opportunity to replace because the job changed. The duties and responsibilities changed. So, our candidate was fired, and a technical firm hired to perform the dual role for a year. I wasn't told so that it could be done without my knowlege.
It's just business. So far there aren't any bad guys here, right?
The Bad Guys
The decision to combine the two jobs is not bad, sounds like a cost cutting measure to me, and quite common.
Now the bad part:
If I am right,, why did PATSY go out of her way to make our candidate look bad? Why didn't she just tell the candidate: "We are going in a different direction, and have to let you go". Sorry, thanks for your efforts.
Instead, she gave me a list of petty reasons for letting her go. Such as, "She stayed in her office too much, she didn't seem engaged, she was too big city for this small town, etc."
During her seven weeks there, she sailed through two inspections. She was very busy and engaged. Nobody approached her with criticism about the job she was doing. She wasn't "written up" or reprimanded. She was praised by staff and corporate.
The recruiting firm should have been told, 'We are going in a different direction, thanks for your help. Instead we were replaced by another recruiting firm, dismissed. And, punished by asking for a refund.
I felt as if we were run over by the bus.
Back to the contract
After reading the contract, our controller called to ask me a few questions. I made calls to find the answers, and prepared myself for the call with Patsy.
This time, I couldn't wait to have our chat.
Armed with information
' Yesterday when you told us that you weren't going to give us the opportunity to replace, I was bit taken aback.' I began.
Patsy cuts me off; charges in full steam ahead . . .
"You were disrespectful to a customer. I am your customer. The customer is right. ..", Patsy, my customer was now berating me about my rude behavior. If having an honest business conversation is rude, so be it.
I continued. "I don't consider you a customer, I consider you a client". This is consultative work, we aren't selling you 'z' items, we are helping you invest in your greatest asset."
"Clients change their minds. It happens. When a client uses a recruiting firm to fill a position, and it doesn't work out, we understand. We'll replace.
"But, when corporate direction has changed, it's a different story. When the job changes due to corporate decisions, then most companies take responsibility for their own decisions. They don't blame the candidate, the recruiting firm, and demand a refund. This is truly deplorable behavior on your part.
NOTHING CHANGED! THE JOB DIDN'T CHANGE!, she yelled.
"Are you telling me that the new job doesn't include the technical position?", it didn't matter but I was curious to know if I was right.
"HOW dare you! How dare you know what's happening in our department". She was finally telling the truth, in a trapped rat kind of way.
"Nobody had a chance, I continued. The candidate didn't have a chance, you decided to change the entire position. You hired her because you needed her to get you though the inspections. And we didn't have a chance. You used our services knowing that you would ask for a refund."
Now it starts to get ugly
"When do I get my DAMN money back? She yelled". Charming. Her title is VP of Hr or something like that.
"I will never use your services again. When do I get the check?" She was again yelling. Are we breaking up our beautiful friendship?, I asked myself.
"As I told you yesterday, I will honor the contract.", unfortunately, you aren't going to get a refund. You didn't send us a notice in writing. It's in the contract. Your contract clearly states that in order for the guarantee to be valid, you must inform us in writing within ten days.
"You didn't get a written notice because I didn't get a call back from you", she is now quite upset and responding like a twelve year old.
"The contract states that you are to give us a written notice within 10 days. It's almost 20", I was trying to be as dead pan as possible, it was hard.
"I called you. I'm getting my phone records." I'll show you.", she was now getting ATT involved. I looked out the window for the van.
"The contract doesn't mention the telephone as an option. And, I don't dispute that you called us. "You gave us nothing in writing. Read the contract." I wasn't the one who had to perform first. You had to inform us in writing."
"You made a mistake, you screwed up. You had me if you would have put it in writing. I almost had to give you the money back.
"I DID NOT SCREW UP" she yelled.
"Ok, you erred. You slipped up, you forgot. You were overworked, too busy, doesn't matter", we don't have to give you a refund." You changed directions, and wanted us to pay for it. And, you almost got away with that.
The contract that we have with your company is in the spirit of cooperation. It shouldn't be used as a clever way to hurt your vendors. Your interpretation of the contract is a new one to me.
Not to mention how you treated the candidate. How about her future? She has to explain this on her resume. Couldn't you have told both of us: "The direction has changed, thanks".
I count my blessings that you didn't give us a notice in writing. You were dishonest with the candidate, and dishonest with us.
Now, I need to make a decision. Do I remove the company from our database, so that our recruiters don't accidentally contact her in the future; or should I keep her in the database, and let rookie recruiters contact her? You know, just for drill?