A true story of lies, deception and a recruiter

Recruitment Dad's OpinionWhat I am about to share with you is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Some time ago, when I was a billing manager, I had a client whom I had done quite a bit of ad-hoc work for over a number of years. Having placed their Finance Director and a number of other qualified and part qualified accountants with them I would describe them as a solid customer. One who I knew would always use me without any competition and happily pay a good level of fee for a quality search.

Anyway, I receive a phone call from their HRD (their HRD not The HRD!). They are in the market for an interim Finance Director. Nothing ‘special’ just a solid manufacturing based FD with a sound understanding of an ABC environment and US GAAP.

Sales questioning | Recruitment Dad“Why?” I ask “Where’s Bob?” (The FD I had placed 4 years earlier – He hadn’t called to let me know he was moving on! I am sure I even spoke to him only err… 6 months ago).

“He’s sick – could be off for some time” Now I am a nosey and tenacious recruiter and ‘off sick’ is often a cover all type of excuse. However, the more I probe the less I find out.

“How long has he been off?” – 2 weeks

“What’s wrong with him?” – Don’t know

“What has he said?” – Hmmm not much

“I’ll give him a ring and find out” – It’s stress, perhaps you should leave him alone…

“When do you expect him back?” – At least 3 months..

Now I felt less and less happy about the situation and I genuinely felt that the HRD didn’t know the answers to my questions! I try to call Bob and can’t get hold of him and then decide to take on board the “it’s stress” advice and back off a little.

Now my search for an interim begins. I have 3 people in mind. 1 who has just come on to the market having decided to set up his own delicatessen (When accountants decide to leave accounting they really go for it!) who was recently at another local manufacturing business. Good fit, nice guy and not seeking a permanent position so happy to take a contract and honour the full duration. I meet up with ‘Deli man’ and after the interview start to tell him more about the position I have. Here comes my first uncovered lie followed by a dilemma. As I describe the business and the role:

Deli Man (my candidate): “Is this job with ‘The Manfac Company’?” (Made up business name!)

Me: “Yes! How did you know?!?” Recruiter paranoia sets in – whom else in on this job? This is my client! Who’s sniffing round my customers??

Deli Man: “Just as I was leaving they recruited my replacement – His name is Bob and he was the FD there!!”

Candidate Lies | Recruitment DadNo way! Bob has accepted a job at Deli Man’s ex-employer. Rather than resign from his job he has decided to phone in sick and start the new job; presumably to see if he likes it and get through the probation period. What a blagger.

Now what would you do here savvy recruiter?

  1. Tell your client immediately? What could happen? How do you know will quickly become helping them build a tribunal case and at this stage you have no evidence. They may even cancel the interim job? Hmm
  2. Investigate further and fill the interim role?

At the time I decided to push on and fill the interim post. Deli Man was uncomfortable being placed there with his knowledge so I placed him elsewhere. I had another candidate who we shall call ‘Liz’. Liz was a rough diamond manfac accountant. Smokers cough and full of blue language though very good with the numbers. Much more of a temp to perm type of candidate, if you get my drift.

I placed ‘Liz’ into the assignment. As the following weeks passed I kept close to my client and tried to coach them into doing a home visit to ‘Bob’ and seeing if they could discover for themselves what he was doing. No luck. I keep in touch with ‘Liz’ and she thinks it is a great place to work, though she really wants a permanent job. I try to get hold of ‘Bob’ but never manage to speak although his ‘new’ employer confirms he does work there. Meanwhile ‘Liz’ gets an offer of a permanent job elsewhere! No!!!

My client really likes Liz. They like her so much that they tell her if ‘Bob’ does not come back from sickness they would give her the permanent position, however it could be 3 months before they know what ‘Bob’ is going to do. Liz tells me she wants to work for my client but a “bird in the hand” with a perm offer elsewhere….

Now my dilemma becomes less of an issue. With a good candidate about to lose a good job with a good employer because of a lying shyster I know now is the right moment to share what I know…

My client is at first angry that I would suggest such a thing! Anger is followed by disbelief then being upset. Once I explain the whole story and how I came by this info they move from being upset to outraged with ‘Bob’. Within a week Bob is suspended and then fired for gross misconduct. ‘Liz’ gets the permanent position. I get a nice placement fee and believe I conducted myself with honesty and integrity throughout. ‘Bob’ also loses his ‘new’ job as his MD is required to provide evidence at his tribunal.  Now that I recount this story some 7 years later I wonder.. Would I have done it the same again if I had a second chance? What would you have done?

A candidate loses his job | Recruitment Dad

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4 Responses

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  1. Great tale Dad.
    Whilst recruiters always feel a little empathy towards candidates they have previously, they need to remember their loyalty is to their paying client (and this was a current client, as they had an ongoing contractor for you). Of course, they could have been pissed off that you placed her in the contract, at a time when you already knew what “Bob” was up to, and chose not to tell them.
    If you had been able to contact “Bob”, he might then have formally resigned, making everyone happy, but as you say, he was incommunicado.

    It reminds me of the time I saw an anonymous full display advert from Odgers (I think) for an MD of a heavy manufacturing company. The description perfectly fitted a client of mine, and I was annoyed they hadn’t contacted me about the job. So I called the current MD, to tell him so, and hopefully get the job on too. I offered my congratulations, as he was obviously moving on, or had been promoted. Turns out the parent company (Sheffield Rollmasters) had engaged a London headhunting firm, with a view to replacing him in a fait accomplit. He was mortified, and then involved me in the political manoeuvring. He confronted them, shored up his own position, and used me to replace a couple of his board members, who had been sticking the knife in.

    It was a salutory lesson in the value of information.

    Stephen O'Donnell 19 July 2010 at 10:20 pm Permalink
  2. Correction – my comment above should read “candidates they have previously placed”

    Stephen O'Donnell 20 July 2010 at 1:54 pm Permalink
  3. I have one professional ethic in particular that has cost me some money on occasion but overall has been beneficial to my business. If I become aware of a downside or problem with the situation I am performing a search for I find a way to appropriately mention that to the candidate who appears to be the front runner as the hiring decision nears. A recent example of this was when I knew that an exec the new employee would be interfacing with (not the new employee’s manager) had a bad temper.

    I think that people who are recruited usually find out that the new situation is not quite what they expected because everybody is emphasizing the positive aspects. People you recruit should be cultivated as long term assets; if they decide that you are just another sales person then you become just a memory.

    Mark Stenerson 21 July 2010 at 1:37 pm Permalink
  4. i think the people that recruiting are didnt know what will happen to them if they will not be careful to those people they are recruiting.other people must be careful to the recruiters who recruite you or else your money will be waste…

    mark anthony 9 February 2011 at 9:32 pm Permalink

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