What to Do When Your Candidate was also Referred by a Client’s Colleague

QUESTION: I have a new client, a very small IT firm, who made an offer to one of my candidates and the candidate declined. I trust the client as I have met him and have had numerous discussions with him over the past 5 months. I found a backup candidate and sent over to them. When I called them yesterday to talk about the candidate and schedule an interview, he told me that he had a problem and wanted to discuss. He said that he had received the same candidate two weeks ago from his real estate closing attorney, apparently the candidate and the client have the same client as a favor to him, no fee involved. He sat on the resume for two weeks, so when we spoke he said he personally did not have a problem paying me, but that his boss would not pay me if they hired him. I do not want to stand in the way of them hiring the candidate. Do I legally have any recourse if they do decide to hire this guy?  – Paul

ANSWER: In this industry one of our biggest frustrations is not knowing if they would have ever called that guy, but as soon as you shined a flashlight on his background, he is probably the sexiest guy in whatever city that you are working in on this opening. Legally, there is probably nothing you can do. The reason I say that is because I always look at things from the opposition. Honestly I am not sure if this is a good client to challenge legally. As soon you go to a legal conversation, you need to be okay with forever losing the client. Maybe that is okay because there are some people in the past where I have fought for fees that I was completely okay, based on their integrity, losing the client, but you said you trust this client meaning that you think he is an integrity.  

I would probably let it go. I had a really good client one step even below what you had, and I trusted them. I presented a guy for a position and probably a $30,000 fee and the CFO said, “Oh, I have this guy’s name with a Post It with his phone number.” So he did not even have the resume, and he had it, same scenario, for a few weeks. I am thinking, you were so busy you would have never called him. He goes, “Mike, you got to take me at my word. I was going to call him, I had his name on a Post It.” Give it to him and in a similar, not in real estate, but a similar type of transaction, and the key thing is you said you trusted him. I trusted my client, and made a bunch more placements with him. They hired the guy whose name was on the Post It, who by the way was the candidate who I sent them the resume of. Would that have happened without me? I do not know.  

Was this going to happen without you? No. I would leverage this, though, through guilt to get another opening or, depending on the situation, you might be able to get a partial fee. Again, I do not know enough about your individual situation. The advantage of the Double Your Placements Program, is that we have a monthly group coaching call where we are able to go back and forth because I spend a lot longer on that call. However, in this situation in the way you have outlined, they have the resume and they are probably going to call him, and either they are going to hire him or not. So yes, I would keep looking and maybe even in this situation you go above and beyond the call and you give them kind of like the insights and be a good person.  

But going forward you can say, “This is one of the reasons I work on engagement. I do all this work and someone comes in the back door, and you used all the candidates I put up in addition to this person that you found as a way to benchmark whether your guy was the best available person or not. You received the benefit of all that work for nothing. That is one of the reasons I work on a deposit-based search”.

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