What to Do When Your Contact Goes Dark Before Signing the Agreement

QUESTION: I used an MPC to generate a new account and the Director of HR spoke to me and decided to introduce me to another HR person who handles a specific plant for this company. I developed a great relationship with this new HR person. We talked about the fee which took some time to negotiate, but after going through my process she understood the value of the service. We agreed on a fee and she even sent me the job description. I, in turn, told her I needed to get the recruitment agreement signed before I could get my team started on it. She agreed and mentioned that before she was going to sign the document she wanted to introduce me to the Hiring Manager. I agreed and we set up a time to have a conference call. She missed the call so I followed up with no response. I have now followed up about once every other week and it has been about 2 months. I am not sure what went wrong because she was very excited to get started and complimented me on the professionalism of my process. I guess my question is what could have gone wrong and is there any suggestion on how to re-open this account. I cannot seem to get a response from either person I spoke with. During our conversations we even talked about the importance of communication. – Dan, FL

ANSWER: How ironic. My guess is that the opening was frozen, somebody above her said we are not using recruiters on this, or they found and identified a candidate between the time you set the call and the call was supposed to take place.  

Now it is incredibly rude of her not to call you back and say, “Thanks, but no thanks” for whatever that reason was. We can infer that.  

The definition of insanity Dan, for you, is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I do not think these phone calls are effective and it is not you. The situation is just one of those when they just totally go dark. I simply found that easiest way to get them on the phone is to confess to a problem that I must have created.  

That conversation would go something like this if you were the Hiring Manager and Director of HR in this situation and you missed the call and then I send you a phone call and an email and you do not return those, and it is just maybe like a week later, I would call you up and say, “Dan, I am sooo sorry. I am scratching my head here and I guess I screwed up and I am just not sure how. So Dan, do me a favor and call me back. I have not heard back from you. I am assuming I dropped the ball somewhere, maybe there was a note I did not take. I am really okay with direct and blunt feedback, so if you could call me and let me know how I let you down I would greatly appreciate it.” 

That type of voicemail has about an 80% to 90% return call rate. That is generally where you are going to get the “Oh my gosh, it is not you, it is me” call and at least you will find out what is going on.  

Because, unless they are just sinister human beings, I think in their mind it is okay to leave you hanging because you are calling up and you are saying something like “Hey, I am just following up on the ABC position. Last thing I was waiting for was the fee agreement. Let us know if you are all set, what I can do to help you.” While it is rude, in their head on some level, they can justify blowing that call off.  

When you respond to their silence with “I must have really screwed up. Let me know what I did. Give me some blunt feedback please, please, please and tell me how to fix and how I can” . . . not even how I can perform, but just blunt feedback so I can improve as a professional assuming you have even kind of mired this relationship, they are much more compelled to get back to you and what the real reason is why they did not get back to you, if that makes sense.

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