QUESTION: How, in pitching a candidate to a respective client, do you answer when the client guesses a candidate’s name before you have a signed contract?  – Kristen

ANSWER: Great question! One, that tells me you gave way too much detail and you probably mentioned where they worked. So going forward, it is probably a lesson to be a little bit more vague. Honestly, I have never had that happen. You are going to get a gut level reaction. Since it has not happened before, I cannot say here is what worked. Here is what my instinct tells me to do, if you were the hiring manager I would say, 

Hey Kristen, yea, bluntly that is the individual. What are your thoughts?  

Then let us say, nothing happened. They do not want to move forward with them. I would say, 

Kristen, do you consider yourself a person of honor?  

Of course, you are going to say yes. I would say, 

We have no formal agreement. But for this conversation you would not know Mary was looking. I would just expect that if you want to pursue Mary that you will reach out to me and we will have that dialog. I am not accusing you of this, I am just trying to set an expectation. As a person of honor, you would not steal someone else’s intellectual property.  

I would use that word “steal.”  

But for my effort and hours and hours of work in uncovering this, to birddog for you, even though technically we do not have a legal agreement. I did not get that sense talking to you Kristen, but I just wanted to be real clear in setting my expectations. Are we on the same level here?  

That is probably how I would handle it.  

My grandparents owned an auto body shop. Remember a lot of grandparents spoil their kids, make them cakes. My grandmother did that too, but when I was 7 my grandmother would bounce me on her knee and point her finger at me and say, never trust anyone. I found in life 96% or 97% or more of people are honorable, and I think that person that might have been tempted to be not honorable because there was no downside because there is no signed contract. 

People that rely on a signature to bind their word do not have any integrity versus their word. I think when you emphasis that, you cause a pause. If they are truly dishonest there is nothing you are going to do, but the ones that were on the fringe of well, you know, I got the name but I did not really have to do anything, will be held to a higher standard. That is the best way to protect yourself. Just kind of retracting backwards a bit. It sounds like you may have given out too much detail.