….I hate spring break!

It happens every year. It’s a rather unbelievable phenomenon and you’d think after more than 47 years of doing this, I’d be used to, as Teilhard de Chardin writes, people are “spiritual beings acting human.”

The “acting human” aspect of this is that more times than I’d like to think about it, candidates missed the opportunity to interview and employers missed the opportunity to interview good candidates because of….spring break! It absolutely drives me nuts. It happened three times last week. The first time, was with a CEO candidate…yes, a CEO who has  been out of work for six months had the opportunity to interview for a job as a CEO, in his profession, the only interview he’s been able to secure in three months…and  he tells me that he can’t go on the interview because he’s going skiing in Colorado for spring break.  “What?…You are going on spring break… spring break. I’ve gotten you the only interview you’ve had in three months and you can’t go because you’re going on spring break????” “Well, I guess I could come back I have to,” he says with a terribly unconvincing, low tone.

The private equity group who was doing the hiring interviewed two other of our candidates and is going to pursue both of them. If one of them does not pan out, they may very well consider the CEO who went skiing.

One of our hiring authorities, (I hate to call them “clients,” because it connotes a much higher business acumen than most deserve)  interviews four excellent candidates  last week and tells us she loves all of the candidates and is going to have them back and will decide to hire one… after she gets back from spring break next week.  “Geez… we aren’t sure that they’re going to be around when you get back,” we tell her. “Well, you came up with those four. You guys are good. I’m sure you can find three or four more,” she says. It is possible that these candidates will still be around when she gets back. But two candidates  she is now focused on are excellent and, fortunately, we’ve been able to get them a number of interviews.

We make it look easy to come up with really good candidates. Well, that is what we are supposed to do. But, it isn’t that easy. This market has bounced ridiculously high in the last two months and all of a sudden, candidates are harder and harder to find. Based on what this lady is looking for, it won’t be easy to find others. “Can’t you do a Skype or a zoom meeting with them, while you were on vacation?” we ask. “No, where we’re going hardly has any Internet capability. It’s just gonna have to wait till I get back.” Well, okay, not much we can do.

The third situation involved a hiring authority, whose corporate policy was to have one of their corporate leaders interview his final candidate for a director’s position. The candidate has made it very clear, in a well-balanced tone, that he is receiving two other offers. We asked the hiring authority if his corporate superior could interview the candidate via Skype or zoom while on vacation next week. The answer came back, “no.” The corporate manager was not interested in interviewing anyone while he was on spring break. The candidate says that he is willing to wait. What choice does he have? But, human nature, being what it is, we won’t be surprised if next week, our candidate gets another offer from one or two of these other organizations (neither one of which we are representing). It wouldn’t surprise us at all if he took one of them because he’s tired of looking for a job and he’s really good. “A bird in the hand.”

This kind of thing happens every year and it’s very frustrating. When I was growing up the idea of “spring break,” was simply one day, Good Friday, and my brother and I would go to our father’s laundry and work. I don’t think I ever heard of spring break until our kids were in high school.

I don’t have a problem with anybody wanting to take a vacation. But when you’ve been looking for a job for three or four months and you get the chance to interview and you decide to go on spring break instead, I wonder about your values. When anyone’s spring break is more important than hiring the right kind of candidate, we’ve got our values out of sync.

I hate spring break!

….how to negotiate yourself out of a job

Joseph is an excellent candidate. He has had 10 years at the same organization, performed very well, has accolades and paychecks to prove he has been successful in sales. His company however, has not been giving him the technical support that his customers have been used to receiving and gradually he’s losing his share of the market. So, he decides he needs to change jobs.

He has been earning in the $200,000-$300,000 range for the past five or six years, so finding him an opportunity much outside the type of business he has been in is fairly unlikely. Obviously, he has some exceptional advantages to competitors and since he has no non-compete agreement (except for a handful of present customers) he is very marketable.

There are five or six major players in the space that he has been in and we contacted all of them. Three told us that they just do not have any need at all right now and don’t see anything coming up in the next two or three quarters. Three people agreed to interview Joseph. One  made it clear that he wasn’t looking to hire anybody probably for another four or five months and that Joseph should not get his hopes up, but he was always interested in interviewing a good candidate (smart guy). The other two that agreed to interview Joseph were actively looking only if the “right person” came along.

We explained to Joseph, to begin with, that we make this process look easy, because we are supposed to. We explained to him that even though he knows he has a good background, he should not let it go to his head and that we happen to catch these people at the right time. When a candidate has been in any one place this long and experienced the kind of success Joseph has, there is often a tendency for it to go to their head. They think they are more marketable and desirable than they really are. Most of the time, this is more an issue of ignorance rather than stupidity. They don’t go out into the market looking for a job very often…hardly at all and when they do, and they all of a sudden get two or three interviews, they have a tendency to think that finding a new job is easy.

Of course, we warned Joseph of this and thought it was clear. When we started the interviewing process with these three organizations, Joseph was always very difficult to get on the phone (our first clue).  We would call him…he would never directly answer…we’d leave a message and he would call maybe a day or so later. When we went to arrange interviews, even after giving us the times he could do them, he would inevitably ask to change the times (he did this all three times).

The organization that really didn’t need to hire anybody who was interested in speaking with Joseph, interviewed him, but didn’t care for him at all. They thought he was arrogant and full of himself. We had warned  Joseph about this to begin with, but apparently it took a “rejection” for him to catch on. Joseph eliminated the second organization because he really didn’t like the territory that they had in mind for him. But Joseph did aggressively pursue our third client.

He began by telling them after an initial interview, that he was very interested in the opportunity and would definitely like to pursue it. He communicated that it was a better opportunity than where he was and he was “ready to go.” When it came time for Joseph to interview with the next level of management, he had to… for business reasons, according to him…postpone the interviews. This took almost two weeks to complete. When he got to the next level of interviews he sold himself really well and made it clear that he would “entertain” an offer. He was telling us that he really liked what he saw and he really wanted to go to work at the organization because it was a better deal than what he had.

Then Joseph got a little more flaky. The company wanted to check references. It took him a whole week to get the references to them. They were beginning to wonder about Joseph’s sincerity, but he convinced them that he traveled so much that it was hard for him to reach out to his references. They asked for a formal application, which they sent to him online and it took him three days to get it back to them.

Even though they had discussed compensation and territory, when it came to us asking Joe that, since it looked like they were going to make him an offer, he stated that, “Well, let’s see the offer in writing.” We then began to tell the hiring authority that we were getting a little nervous about this. Joseph let us all to believe that he had every intention of taking the job but when details started coming along he got squishy.

Our hiring authority explained that her upper management really liked the guy and felt like he could do a lot for the company and they were going to go through with the offer as discussed. Even she was beginning to get negative feelings about the whole thing because when she had to call the candidate, at his request, to discuss a number of things he wanted to talk about, he became real hard to get. As before, he would never pick up the phone when he was called and more often than not called back a day later.

The hiring authority explained very clearly that these offer letters were signed by the CEO and the company did not normally change anything in them. Before Joseph even got the offer letter he started asking me about their flexibility on a number of things. I called the hiring authority about them, reinforcing again that we were getting less and less confident in the candidate.

By this time, the company sent the written offer and Joseph started dissecting it. At this point, he told me that he wanted to do the deal but he wanted a number of things changed. I explained to him that it had come to the point where he was going to have to speak to the hiring authority himself and that the company was getting a little fed up with his negotiation style. His comment was, “well, that’s negotiations.” The hiring authority tried to reach out to Joseph two more times. He didn’t return her calls.

Joseph did call me and implied that if they could change just a couple of things he’d probably do the deal. I told him that he would have to speak to the hiring authority, but all of us were getting very dubious of his intentions. I suggested that they meet face-to-face. Joseph said that he couldn’t meet until a particular day. I passed that along to the hiring authority. He said he could meet at any time that day. I picked the time that was good for the hiring authority and when I passed it along to him…guess what? He writes back and says that he can’t do that particular time.

At this point, the hiring authority is pissed off. Although she said it’s going to be a little embarrassing to explain to her higher-ups that Joseph won’t be joining, she couldn’t imagine working with someone this way.

The offer was verbally rescinded through me. The candidate called the hiring authority and left a rather weak message that it probably would not have worked out anyhow.

Even if the candidate didn’t want to do this deal and it was pretty apparent that he didn’t, he shouldn’t have “managed” the process this way. He certainly closed the door for this organization for the future.

This is a great lesson of how not to negotiate.

…more about taking tests

Well, just this week we had a wonderful candidate get rejected for a position because he blew the test. I’ll tell you what happened after we discuss how to take tests. Unfortunately he just didn’t listen to our teaching.

First, whatever you do, don’t bitch and moan to the prospective employer that testing is a lot of nonsense. In some cases, it very well is, but if a prospective employer does it as a routine part of the selection process, your opinion isn’t going to matter. If you voice your negative opinion too much, you’ll be eliminated for that reason alone. So, just decide to take the test in stride and resolve to do the very best you can. And, don’t say something stupid like, “Oh, my God, I’m absolutely awful when it comes to test.” This may be true, but for goodness sake, don’t tell that to a prospective employer.

Second, before you take the test, get lots of rest, eat a good meal, and relax. Do the very best you can. Look at it as a challenge. Take it in stride. Trying to prepare for a test is hard, but there is a bit of salvation. Find out what kind of test you are going to be taking. Is it an intelligence test, a personality test, etc.? You might even be able to get the name of the test before you take it. This can be valuable because if it is a test that you might be able to find online, you can practice taking it. For instance, the Wonderlic test is used to measure how quickly a person thinks. A person can buy the test online and take it….as many times as they want. It’s one of those kinds of tests where the score can be improved upon rather drastically with practice. Certain types of sales personality tests can be mastered by doing the same thing. So, if you find out about the testing early enough and find out what kind of test it is going to be, you may very well be able to improve your score by practicing.

If the test is either paper and pencil or taken online do not be over analytical and agonize over each answer, nor be flippant about the answers that you give. Be thoughtful in your answers and above all be consistent in your answers. Don’t try to read into every question what the interviewer is trying to get at. That is a losing proposition.

Whatever you do, do not try to outguess the test! Don’t sit there and ask yourself, “What are they trying to find out when they asked that question? Because if they’re trying to find out ‘that’ then I will answer ‘this” so they will think ‘that’ when I answer ‘this’ so they will think ‘that’ of me,” you’re finished. Every one of these kinds of tests ask the same question in three or four different ways. No one is good enough to outguess them. Besides when people try to outguess the test their scores are usually so goofy they invalidate the whole thing. You’re finished!

If you have to do any kind of testing at all, practice if you can and relax …take it in stride.

…..six interviews for a nine person company

So, what’s with this? Our client is a nine person IT consulting firm. They do project consulting for a very niche market. The CEO, whom I’ve known for 15 years while he was working his way up through the ranks of project consulting at a couple of national firms, founded this company a few years ago and looked for a salesperson on their own for two months and never even interviewed one candidate.

Their technical consultants are really doing most of their selling now and they don’t really have a pure salesperson. They have a quasi-salesperson doing the job, but he has turned out to be nothing but an order taker. He emails and waits for RFP requests. It’s got everybody frustrated and that’s why they need a new salesperson.

When the CEO called to tell us what he was looking for, he made it very specific that he really wanted to find somebody from a competitor and someone who was very used to calling on and selling IT consulting services to the very narrow sector that they sell to. We recruited really hard… I mean really hard. But it turns out that everyone who sells into that particular vertical sells their projects a year or two in advance, and if they are any good at all they have a lot of money coming to them over the next few years. They have the attitude that, “I’ve already made that money and there’s no real good reason for me to leave what I’m doing. We talked to, or communicated with, 25 or 26 people like this and no one was even interested in speaking with our client.

Out of sheer luck, we came up with a candidate who had actually been selling software into the vertical that these people were selling consulting services into. He has a tremendous track record of success and knows many of the people our client was looking to sell to. He didn’t know as many as our client would have liked, but in that particular vertical, people know people who know people and getting into other organizations would not be hard, especially for this stellar candidate, who had proven he knew how to do that.

We started the interviewing process and although the candidate, being a good salesperson, “qualified” everyone he spoke to into agreeing that he had the ability to do what they wanted done, they still decided not to hire him. As a group, they came up with very nebulous reasons in the final analysis, like “He really didn’t know our solution and wasn’t able to articulate it…. We aren’t sure his approach was what we would want… and, we just didn’t get the right feeling.”

It turns out that no one in the whole interviewing process wanted to make a commitment. Whenever a company is looking to replace the present employee there is always a thought in the back of their mind that, “The devil they know might be better than the devil they don’t know.” So, most everyone was reluctant to say, “This is our person.” They decided that the buck would stop with the managing director of this particular department. It turns out that the managing director even admitted that he had never been in sales and really wasn’t quite sure what it took. It was going to be obvious to him and to others if they found someone with exactly the experience, i.e. from a competitor, they were looking for. And, since they had been already looking for so long (the sunk cost fallacy) they were going to hold off and find someone who everybody would agree on.

I don’t know whether to feel more sorry for the company or our candidate. Anyone objectively looking at the guy and what the company does based on his superb track record, would know, beyond a doubt that this guy would’ve been very successful.

The majority of the people that interviewed this fellow really had nothing to do with sales. The company simply felt they needed lots of people to agree. Nobody wanted to make a stand, including a person who admitted that they really didn’t know anything about “sales.” Even the CEO didn’t want to go against his subordinate’s ambivalence.

Here are the lessons:

  1. Whenever an employee is being “replaced,” a candidate better be aware that it’s going to be harder than it looks. People doing the interviewing and hiring may not know exactly what they need but they are always afraid of “the devil they don’t know.” So unless “Mr. or Ms. Perfect” hits them in the face, they’re going to have a tough time making a positive decision.
  2. The longer the interviewing and hiring process goes on, the harder it is for a company to hire someone. It’s easy to interview a lot of people. Interviewing does not take “making a commitment.” But hiring someone does. Dating a lot of people is easy to do, but marrying someone requires a commitment! After a long period of interviewing, people start thinking, “Well this last person we interviewed wasn’t any better than the first person we interviewed… or second, or third… and we didn’t hire them, so we probably shouldn’t hire this one.”
  3. The more people there are involved in the interviewing process, the less effective it is and the more likely no one is going to want to commit to hiring someone for fear that they’ll hear, “Well, he/she failed and you are the one that really wanted to hire them.”
  4. The more people who are involved in the interviewing process who really don’t have anything to do with the job itself, the less likely they are to know what they’re doing or know what they’re looking for. They have been interjected into the interviewing process because, “We don’t want to make a mistake” and “We think that the more people who are involved in the interviewing process, the less likely we are to make a mistake.”
  5. If people say “no” to a candidate no one will ever know whether they were right or not. If they make a commitment of, “Yes, we should hire him/her” and it doesn’t work out, they look foolish (or at least think they do). So, it’s simply easier and, more importantly, safer, to say “no.”

So, if you are a job seeker and you find yourself in a situation like this, be prepared for an uphill battle.

 

…taking tests

hardly a week goes by that at least 10 or 15 of our candidates are asked to take some kind of test… These things can range anywhere from IQ tests, psychological tests, math aptitude tests, personality surveys and so on. We’re constantly asked if there are any “secrets” to doing well on them.

The concept of testing intelligence was first successfully devised by a French psychologist  in the early 1900s to help describe differences in how well and quickly children learn at school.  Thus began the argument that continues today between those that believe  testing is an indication of a lot of things and those that believe  that testing  really can’t measure much of anything.

Since 1973, I’ve seen candidate testing ebb and flow in popularity. Believe it or not, it seems to ebb and flow depending on the economy. Testing of job candidates can be very expensive, so it’s one of the first things that companies stop doing when the economy gets difficult.

Job candidates  should be prepared for what I call the “paradox of testing.” Every company that has ever used testing as part of its selection process is going to tell every candidate that at most the test accounts for only 25% of the final decision. Don’t believe a word of it! Whatever kind of test that is used, from grafoanalisis  to psychological or psychiatric interviewing, is a qualifier that you must pass with the minimum standard arbitrarily set by someone or some group in the organization or you aren’t going to go further in the interviewing process. Whether hiring authorities are companies will admit it or not, the test becomes a binary, black and white, proceed or go home qualifier. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.

So, when a hiring authority tell you something like, “oh, by the way, we have some psychological (or aptitude, or skills, or intelligence)  testing you need to do as a candidate, but don’t worry about it. Everybody comes to work here has to take it and it really doesn’t account for much more than 10% (or 25% or 50%) of the decision,” don’t believe a word of it! Testing becomes the gate that has to be passed through before you can be considered as a viable candidate.

Testing objectifies the hiring process. When supposedly objective tests decide on your viability as a candidate, no hiring or interviewing authority involved in the process of hiring has to have her butt on the line, has to take a stand  on your candidacy,  or has to run the risk of being the only person who likes you and wants to hire you. Now a hiring authority is still going to have to make a decision in choosing someone to be hired. But the convenient thing about testing is that it also functions as a cover your butt issue.. If hiring you turns out to be a mistake, but you did well on the company’s battery of tests, the hiring authority can turn to everyone else and say, “well, she did well on the testing!” It’s just another way of passing the buck of responsibility. The test becomes the qualifier, screening out tons of candidates should know one person has to and it’s convenient and easy.

Please don’t tell me that testing is stupid and it doesn’t work. Part of my graduate studies-admittedly more than 47 years ago-included extensive studies about testing. I can make the case that testing will never measure passion, commitment, focus, and, in general “heart,” the real things it separated top performer from an average one. But as you know, the people who manage companies don’t really care what you or I think. If somebody sells a company on the idea that any kind of testing will help it hire better people in the company invests thousands in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars in this testing, it’s going to use it-no matter what.

—–next week—does testing work?

 

…excusez mon français

The employer gave me feedback and said that my candidate was doing rather well in the interview until he made the comment, “excuse my French” and then proceeded to curse. According to him, the cursing was minor. According to her it was significant because, first of all, she is a woman; secondly, he does not know her that well (in fact, not at all) and, third, he has no idea whether she tolerates that kind of talk or not.

I played rugby for more than 20 years and certainly have been exposed to more than even rough language. Some of the guys I played with couldn’t utter one sentence without at least two profane words. (One of them I played with in college became a Jesuit priest…not the same guy.) And, I often have to remind myself to watch my own language (especially on our radio program). So, language like this doesn’t particularly bother me. But I’m not the hiring authority.

My candidate is about as good as this employer would ever find. But she dismissed him immediately because of his indiscretion. She claimed, correctly, that it was just plain bad judgment and that it wasn’t so much that she was offended as it was that he’d never spoken to her before, didn’t know her at all and had no idea whether language like that would be offensive to her. It ended her interest in the candidate right away.

Unfortunately, the candidate made the excuse that the words he used weren’t that offensive. I reminded him that his opinion really doesn’t matter. It was her opinion that did.

This market is tough enough without a candidate shooting themselves in the foot by using language that might be offensive to the hiring authority. It really doesn’t matter whether the hiring authority is a man or woman. None of us really know how another person, a stranger, is going to respond to foul language.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the candidate is a real professional who’s made more than $300,000 a year a number of times selling consulting services. He’s really, really, really good. This is an excellent company and would’ve been an excellent place for him to join.

Excusez mon français?  Non!  Ne jure pas!

…Why Counteroffers Don’t Work

If your company really recognizes your worth, they would’ve given you the added income, advancement, title, whatever…. without the necessity of you “blackmailing” them by finding another job and threatening to quit. Why did you have to go to all the trouble to go out and look for another job just to get a better salary or promotion from a prospective new employer…. who doesn’t even know you?

If you accept the counteroffer, you will, more often than not, be looked upon as a person who was disloyal and blackmailed management or the company into giving you what you wanted. You are no longer trusted.

When the next salary reviews come around, you will already have received yours and you will be bypassed.

The reason that you were made a counteroffer is because, at that moment, they needed you worse than you needed them. When this situation is rectified (and notice, I said “when,” not “if”) and you no longer have them over a barrel, your position in the company will not be very strong. “Turnabout” is fair play, and as soon as the chance comes for them to do to you what you tried to do to them, they’ll do it. They will keep you long enough to find your replacement.

In essence, you are firing your company. No one likes to be fired. So, they’re going to do what any “fired” person would do: hang on until they can rectify the situation.   This means finding your replacement so this will not happen again.

Good companies, (well-managed companies), don’t buy people back. They know that emotionally and mentally you have left….. so you might as well leave it physically. The only kind of company that will “buy you back” is the kind of company that will take advantage of you somewhere down the line. After all, they weren’t smart enough to keep you from having to look for a job; they probably won’t be smart enough to keep you satisfied.

It is cheaper for a company to try to make you a counteroffer than it is to replace you. Whatever immediate raise they may have to give you, they would also have to give someone else. But the time and the cost of someone doing your job after you leave, until a replacement can be found — the cost of finding a replacement and the time it would take to do it, and to train them once they are there — all add up. And the total is greater than whatever raise they would have to give you. It is simply cheaper to try to keep you.

Money and title are temporary. If the major complaint about your job has to do with money, when the money changes, you’ll only be temporarily content.  Most of the time — even after a counteroffer — your job, the company, the personalities, etc., are not any different than they were before.  Nothing has really changed.   A few cosmetic things regarding you have been adjusted, but they rarely make a long-term difference. After the “glow”of importance of the money or title wears off, you are right back where you were before.

The emotion of the moment of all of a sudden being made to feel special overrides the logical, common sense that forced you to go out and look for a job. Once you tell your superiors that you’re leaving, in order to get you to stay, they have to make you feel this way. After a few weeks, or a month, the euphoria of being special goes away and you’ll come to your senses recognizing that nothing has changed.

The “trust” relationship that you had with your employer is no longer there. We are not “all in this together” anymore. Any doubts about your past performance that were “overlooked” because you were, once upon a time, a “team player” will be more accentuated from now on. Every mistake you make will be magnified. Promotion? Well, think about it.  Would you promote a “blackmailer?”

The fact that you can’t be trusted anymore affects everyone you work with. You held management’s feet to the fire, you blackmailed them and, what’s worse, everyone in the company knows it. You don’t think they do, but they do. No matter how “confidential” you think your counteroffer negotiations were, they aren’t. In fact, word gets around really fast, and not only are you now distrusted by your management, but all of your peers and subordinates are irritated or downright mad that you got something they didn’t. The longer you stay, the more resentment there is by everyone: your superiors, your peers and your subordinates. You have intentionally isolated yourself and no one really appreciates you. In fact, they are downright jealous.

You caught management with their “pants down.” Most likely, they had no idea this was coming. Your immediate supervisor may wind up looking like a “dufus” for losing another employee. His or her butt might be on the line.   If it gets out why you are leaving, it might be your superiors’ “kiss of death.”  So, they’re going to do whatever they can to keep you so that they can “buy time” and find a replacement.

Your leaving is going to cause other people to have to “cover” for you. Your supervisor and his company, (i.e., your company) at least for a while, are going to put “their finger in the dike” to keep you around simply because other people are going to have to take up your slack if you leave. But when they get a chance, they’re going to replace you.

Losing any employee never comes at a “good time.” Your immediate supervisor is likely to say, “How could you do this now? It couldn’t come at a worse time?” Your ego will be stroked and fed simply to buy time for your manager to “recover” by replacing you.

The world is motivated by self-interest. Your immediate supervisor is interested in his or her “self.” Nobody wants to “look bad.”  If you’re leaving makes your supervisor look bad, he or she is going to do anything, at least for a while, to look good by keeping you.  Since he or she doesn’t want to look bad by your trying to leave again, they’re going to look good by finding a replacement and then firing you.   Their sudden interest in your concerns about the company, and reasons for leaving, are simply self-motivated.

The higher level of a position that you have, the more likely you are to be “counter-offered” by more than one person in the organization. I’ve had candidates that, once they give their resignation notice, are literally “escorted” from manager to manager throughout the company to convince the candidate to stay. I’ve even had a few candidates, in situations like this, be called by the CEO and told what an asset they were to the company.   Often times, this is the first or second time that the candidate has ever heard from the CEO.   Does that tell you anything?

Be prepared, when you go in to resign, to receive a counteroffer.   Be graceful, be kind, and be smart.   Put your ego aside and follow good common sense.   Tell the people that make you a counteroffer that you really appreciate their offer, but that you have made up your mind and you are going to leave.   No matter how tempting it is, never accept a counteroffer. 

 

…..”we’re cool…”

We got an email from one of our hiring authorities, “Hey, what are you doing? We’re hiring you to help us find people, not to take people out of here! We don’t appreciate it when you recruit our employees!”

So, we call the hiring manager and ask him what he’s talking about. He proceeds to explain to us that one of his newly-promoted employees told him that he had gotten a call from one of our recruiters and that he didn’t appreciate us trying to recruit his employees especially since he was using us to find some. Thankfully, before we said anything we told him that we needed to research the situation to try to get an understanding of what he was speaking about. We added that we don’t recruit from clients that do business with us.

Three or four hours of research revealed that one of the subordinates to the hiring authority had contacted us last September about leaving the company. He sent us a resume and made an application with us. He is a really good candidate and we got him a couple of interviews over a two or three week period of time, but, after that, he told us that he was going to stay where he was. So we let it go.

Well, it turns out that this (not very bright) employee/candidate told our hiring authority in the past week or two that we had “contacted him.” He never bothered to explain to his boss that he contacted us last fall about leaving the company because he was unhappy with his job. He managed to get a small promotion, so he decided to stay where he was. Fair enough!

We called our client and explained to him that his employee called us back in September because he was looking for a new job and, since the candidate approached us, we got him some interviews. We explained to the hiring authority that the candidate decided to stay where he was. We made it clear to the hiring authority that the candidate contacted us; we did not contact him.

The hiring authority wasn’t real happy, but because he needed someone asked us not to speak to “his people” and to continue the search. We told him we would do our best.

Late in the afternoon, after the normal hours of business, we called the (ex) candidate and asked him why he even discussed our speaking with him or his looking for a job with his boss. He told us that when his boss said he needed a new employee, he told his boss, “Call the people at Babich They can help you; they’ve been talking to me!”

“Why in the hell would you tell your boss that you had been speaking to us? First of all it was way last fall and, secondly, you called us looking to leave. Why would you even dream of sharing that with your boss?” “Well,” he replied, “I didn’t think it would hurt anything and besides I got a promotion. I wanted to let them know that if he didn’t keep promoting me I knew who to talk to about finding a better job. But….we’re cool!”

The candidate proceeded to explain that he had spoken to his boss about either getting a promotion or needing to leave and that bringing our name was simply an indication that he was dealing with a very reputable recruiting firm that could probably find him a job. Unfortunately, it didn’t even dawn on him that telling his boss that he was either now or at any time looking for a job could very easily get him fired. He kept saying,..”…We’re cool…My boss and I, we’re cool.”

Well, he may think “they’re cool,” but I wouldn’t believe it for one minute.

Lesson: don’t tell anyone in your company you’re looking for a job or were looking for a job…especially your boss. If you do, you should expect to get fired. Shut up! If you’re gonna leave… leave! If you’re going to stay…stay! When you let people know you are looking for a job, they do not trust you.

 

…”Do you think that opportunity is still open?…. “I think I made a mistake…”

Three times in the last two weeks, our firm got calls from candidates stating almost exactly the same words. All three of these candidates had gotten offers through us from our clients and accepted counteroffers to stay where they were. One of the candidates received the offer and the counter offer in October of last year, one in November and the other in December.

The first candidate, the one in November, had accepted a $200,000 a year vice presidency position with one of our banking clients. He had accepted the position in mid-October, and after taking his vacation, went in to resign a few days before he was to start his new job. When his, then, present employer heard that he was going to resign, they revealed to him all kinds of plans they had for him in the future including a promotion, more responsibility and more money. He abruptly, however politely, called our client and turned the offer down after he’d accepted it two weeks before. Not surprisingly, our client wasn’t very happy at all, but was as graceful as they could be, realizing that it’s a very small world and it is always best to be gracious.

We found out last week from the candidate that none of his promised promotions, increases in salary and increasing responsibility ever came about. At first, his employer said that they were going to get “around” to fixing his situation. They then told him, according to the candidate, that they ought to have a, “plan in place by the first of the year.” Well, when the first of the year came along and nothing had been done, according to the candidate, he asked about the changes to be made, and was told that because of Covid, the bank wasn’t going to make any changes in their current situation.

The candidate is embarrassed and downright pissed off! He called and wanted to know if our client who had offered him a job in October would still be open to speaking with him. To our knowledge, our client has not hired anybody. We are in the process of connecting with them to see if they would still consider the candidate.

The second situation happened in November. Right before our candidate got an offer from one of our clients, he told the company he was working for that he was actively looking for a job and was likely to leave. His company acted shocked and surprised and claimed that they couldn’t even imagine, “losing talent like him” and were intent on doing anything they could to keep him. His boss and his boss’s boss came in from out of town, took him to dinner and asked him what they needed to do to keep him. He told us that he explained to them what they needed to do in order to keep him and that they promised to do it. They even arranged for the CEO (whom the candidate had never even heard from or spoken with) to call the candidate and let them know how “valuable” he was to the company and that they had great plans for him. His ego was stroked so greatly, he called us and told us to tell our client that he was no longer interested in their situation and that he was going to stay where he was. They fired him on December 31! The only reason they gave him was that they were going to reorganize and he wasn’t in the plans.

To make the situation even more warm and fuzzy, they let them go by email. As of this weekend, he still hasn’t been able to speak with his boss. It was all done by the people in HR. Interestingly enough, our client is still interested in speaking with him. Miracles happen!

The last incident of a buyback occurred in December. Our candidate got an offer through us from one of our clients and accepted the job. She was supposed to start January 1. Same song, second verse! She goes in to resign, her boss asks her what they have to do to keep her. She tells us that she never expected in 1 million years that they would do what they would have to do to keep her so she told her boss all of the things they would need to do. Her boss asked her to hold off for a couple of days so he could see what he might be able to do to rectify all of her grievances. She tells our client that she wants to hold off on a start date and tells them the reason why. (Unfortunately, we were not aware this.)

Two days or so after she asks our client to “hold off,” our client calls and tells us what’s going on. After thinking about it a day or so, they are mad. Unfortunately, they are surprised that we didn’t know anything about it, thinking we were encouraging her and advising her all along. We explained that we weren’t and that we had no idea what she was doing. Of course, they were questioning her integrity. Our candidate tells us that she feels like she owes it to her company to “see what they can do.” We explained to her that what she’s doing is revealing, at best, poor business judgment and, at worst, lack of integrity. We explained that we fully expect our client to move on with the second candidate that we had (fortunately) provided them, which is exactly who they hired.

Four or five days after our candidate had gotten the assurance from her boss that the company would make things better, her boss resigned, with no notice. He simply walked out. She came to find out that he never even shared with his management her situation or his promise to make things better. He simply got her to stick around until he left. At least she admitted how mad she was and how she felt. She still has her old job, but is actively looking more so than ever.

Counteroffers rarely work. We’ll go into the reasons why next week. We have no idea if the first candidate in these three scenarios has a chance at the job. We are amazed that the second candidate still has a shot and we aren’t surprised at all about the third situation.

The major reason that counteroffers don’t really work is that the person who receives one can no longer be trusted to be part of the “family.” There are lots of other reasons that we will discuss next week. The lesson is: don’t accept the counteroffer!

…..”but i made that kind of money five years ago!!!”

Tony: “I understand. Many of my candidates even, if they’re finding a decent job are going to work for a lot less money than they’d earned before…”

Mary: “but I’m different. Before Covid my base was $130,000.  I can’t believe that they would insult me by offering me $100,000.

Tony: “Wait a minute Mary, they didn’t offer anything. When they asked you what kind of money you are looking for, you said your last base was $130,000. I thought I made it really clear that they didn’t want to go above the base of $100,000 and that to ask anything more than that would probably eliminate us.”

Mary: “Well, I didn’t tell him I wanted $130,000, I told him that I had been making $130,000 and he didn’t even bat an eye.”

Tony: “Mary, I specifically explained that the company was not going to pay more than $100,000 as a base salary. I understand exactly how you feel.  But you have been out of work for more than six months, don’t have any prospects, in fact, you only had three interviews in that whole period of time and these people were really interested in hiring you. But when you even mentioned $130,000, we blew it.”

Mary: “But what was I supposed to say? The interview was going so well and everything seemed to click. I haven’t made that kind of money as a base salary in five years!”

Tony: “Mary, I do not know how to put it in any other way. You have been out of work for more than six months and what are you making now? Nothing, zero, nada, zip… We have to get our ego out of this and be realistic about what we’re being faced with.”

Mary: “Well, call him and tell him I would take $100,000. But also tell him that I haven’t made that kind of money in five years.”

Tony: “Mary I want to say this kindly, but he doesn’t even want to consider trying to hire you. His attitude is that if he hires you at a $100,000 base salary, sometime in the near future someone will try to hire you at $130,000 and he will lose you. The truth is that it is not very likely to happen, we’re in a recession and besides, people just don’t leave a job for $30,000 salary if they’re happy. But a potential hiring manager doesn’t think that way. He thinks of just as many reasons of why he shouldn’t hire you as he does of reasons as to why he should and we gave him too big of a reason.”

“What we might say when you were asked about what kind of money you were looking for is, ‘Tony told me that the base was $100,000 with the total on quota earnings of $200,000 and that sounds great’ and just plain left it at that.”

“We aren’t going to get another chance to speak with him. He’s got too many other really good candidates that will go to work for the $100,000 base salary. He simply doesn’t need to run the risk of worrying about hiring you.”

Mary: “But I’m much better than any of those people!”

Tony: “Oh, Mary pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. There are so many really good candidates on the market a hiring authority can find people with easily as good a track record as we have. You are very good at what you do but you have no idea how many good candidates there are out there.”

Mary: “I do know there are a lot of good candidates out there, but I just really need to make a base of $130,000. I don’t want to go backwards.”

Tony: “Mary, nobody wants to go backwards, but there is absolutely nothing in business that says you’re always going to get what you want if the market won’t bear it and the market isn’t going to bear a $130,000 base salary in my opinion. It’s just not.”

Mary: “Well I’ll just have to think about it.”

Tony: “Mary, there’s really nothing to think about. We don’t have an offer from anybody and were not gonna get a chance to go back and talk to this guy. Please, next time I share that the base is $100,000 don’t tell them that you’ve made $130,000 and even hint that that’s what you’re looking for. Please, for your own sake. I’ve got three other candidates that he’s talking to and I’m sure he will find one of those. There is no doubt that you are probably the most qualified of all of them, but when he heard that $130,000, it scared him off.”

Mary: “Well, this is so very frustrating! They have no idea what they’re missing. I’m really, really good at what I do and I know that there are not very many people that are as good as I am. It is their loss.”

Tony: “Again, I understand exactly how you feel, but this market is so flush with people and hiring authorities are so afraid of making a mistake…it happens this way in every recession. The longer we go out of work, the harder it’s going to be. If we find an opportunity as good as this, with good people and a good opportunity for future we should really strongly consider it. I would love to get you a $130,000 base salary…, heck, I’d like to get you a $150,000 base salary. The more money you make, the more money I make, but the reality is, that is not likely to happen in this market.

Mary: “Well, I’m just going to have to think about it. You’re probably right. But it’s just not fair!”