True story with a purpose.

Years ago, I was recruiting for a client in Ayrshire, who needed a Design Engineer.  As per usual I took on the job, quoted our fees, yada yada yada.  During the process of sourcing candidates I networked through to a candidate who seemed to match the requirement perfectly.  I approached him, told him in general terms about the job and he was interested enough to come to my office for an initial interview, which further reinforced his suitability.  Long story short, towards the end of the interview I begin to tell him about the specifics of the job and the company.  “Bloody hell!” he said “That’s my brother in law’s company.  I play golf with him every Saturday morning.  I didn’t know he was recruiting”.  It turns out the MD was a friend and former colleague, who had then married his sister.  Even if he had known about the job, he said he wouldn’t have applied, as it would put them both in an awkward situation.  What if he wasn’t the best guy for the job and the MD felt compelled to give him it, or worse still reject him for good business reasons?  He was reluctant to be submitted for the job.

I then asked, if the job was perfect, and he was the best candidate, would he have any problem working for his brother in law? “No” he said “but surely he would have asked me himself, as he knows my CV as well as I do?”  I said, “Perhaps he is as reluctant as you to ask directly, because it would be weird if you turned him down”.

I suggested that I speak to the MD, and go through all the proper channels, so that he could be considered for the job in as detached and professional way as possible.  That way, if it came to nothing, they would be able to be circumspect about it.  Hesitantly, he agreed.

Next stop the client.  “Good afternoon Bill.  I have a terrific candidate for the Design Engineer role, who matches, and exceeds, all your requirements, lives locally, is in the right salary band, and I believe is a very good fit for your company.  Before I go on though, I have to tell you that this candidate is known to you, and you’ll kick yourself when I tell you his name.  Now this candidate didn’t know of this job, and wouldn’t have applied directly if he had known about it.  I need to confirm in advance then, that our fee will still be applicable, if you recruit him”.

The client thought about it, clearly wondering whether it was an ex-employee, someone from a rival company, or someone he had previously interviewed.  He couldn’t work it out, so agreed to the fee.

“The candidate is Ian Morgan (not his real name), your brother in law.”  “Oh, for f*ck sake!” he yelled. After a few more “Jesus Christs” and other swearing he asked, “are you sure he’s interested?”  I explained the situation in full, and he understood.  He said he never even considered that Ian would want to work for him, and wouldn’t have put him in that position.  After talking some more, we then agreed to have Ian interviewed by a fellow director, who didn’t know the family connection, which would ensure faces were saved all round, whatever the outcome.  I’m happy to report that he did indeed get the job, and the client did indeed honour his agreement to pay the fee (I gave a little discount to take the edge off the weirdness).

So what have we learned Dorothy?  Recruitment Consultants not only sell information, but also market knowledge, expertise, and the ability to negotiate unusual circumstances by thinking laterally, and solving problems.  In this situation, these two guys would never have come together, and frankly I like to take credit for enabling it to happen.  Clients often state that they already know of a candidate when he or she is submitted, and reject them immediately.  What they may not have done, is considered (along with a recruiter’s insight) this specific candidate for this particular role.  In other words, the right applicant is rejected for the wrong reason.  Professional recruiters help to solve their client’s recruitment needs by representing the best interests of both parties.

Can job boards do any of this?  Absolutely not.  Can Flat Fee recruiters?  I seriously doubt it.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

Related Posts

Smash & Trash

If you really want my opinion on any given topic (mainly recruitment), you'll almost certainly find it here.

Please browse and search my blogs at will.

Blog Categories