by Bill Radin
Peter was a great candidate,
but was unemployed. When he contacted me, I immediately
thought of a company that seemed a perfect match for his
talents. So, I placed a call to the vice president.
The VP agreed that my candidate
was outstanding, and could immediately help his company grow.
However, there was a catch: Under no circumstances would he
pay a recruiter’s fee.
“So, you see no value
whatsoever in working with a recruiter,” I said.
“You got it,” the VP said. “We
get 50 resumes a week from posting on Craigslist. So, if your
candidate really wants to work for our company, I’m sure he’ll
“Sorry I wasted your time,” I
said. I could see that trying to convince him otherwise was a
waste of my time as well.
Sure enough, just as the VP
predicted, the candidate eventually found the company online,
and after an exchange of emails, the VP flew Peter out to
California to interview. Not once, but twice.
Soon after the second
interview, Peter received an email from the VP, and it had the
look and feel of an offer—almost. “We’d like you to come to
work for us,” The VP wrote. “All we need to do is find out
what sort of salary you’re looking for.” I know all about the
email, because the candidate forwarded it to me and asked for
Now, I’m not one to hold a
grudge; nor am I about to keep two interested parties apart,
especially in light of the fact that the candidate was
unemployed. So I advised the candidate to strongly state his
interest and request a formal offer, with the understanding
that if the offer was reasonable, he would accept the offer
and set a start date.
But instead of taking my
advice, the candidate took a detour, which proved fateful. In
his email message to Peter, the VP went on to say that their
salary range was $100k to $150k. Since Peter’s last job had
paid $100k, Peter figured there was some room to negotiate.
So Peter emailed the VP that he
needed a salary of $12k more than he was making before being
laid off, in order to: [a] compensate for the higher cost of
living in California; [b] bring his salary up to “market”
value, according to an online survey; and [c] provide him with
a 12-percent increase to adjust for inflation during the two
years he’d been unemployed.
How did the VP react? He pulled
Now, I don’t blame the VP for
being put off. But instead of saying, “Whoa, can we talk about
it?” he stopped the deal in its tracks.
Had I been in a position to
broker the exchange, I’m certain the outcome would have been
very different. Acting as a sounding board, I could have
smoothed the rough edges, and helped everyone reach a
consensus. Instead, Peter and the VP
communicated poorly; and as a result, their little drama morphed
into a triple tragedy.
First, a talented and deserving
candidate was left with a family to feed and a creative mind
going to waste. Second, a perfectly good company that could
have reaped untold financial benefit by expanding its capacity
is still turning away business.
And third, the VP who regarded
my services as worthless cost his company ten times the money
he would have paid me.
Yes, there’s a cost associated
with high-quality professional services. But very often,
they’re worth every penny.