Check In At Least Once A Week!
This past week, I had my second opportunity to talk about “Working with Executive Recruiters.” This time, I spoke to a group of Controllers and Chief Financial Officers, members of The Financial Executives Networking Group (FENG). The discussion following my talk was much the same as my first presentation on this subject.
Once again the meeting began with a brief personal introduction from each of the guests. It was their opportunity to spend 30 seconds on their elevator pitch to let the group who know who they were and what they were looking to accomplish. As with my last presentation, I planned this to be a dialog, not a lecture. I asked that they include one top of mind question on the subject. Once again, the biggest question was about communications and follow up from the recruiter. They did not hold back on their hostility toward the Executive Search Profession. My work was evident.
The next day I received an email from a gentleman who could not attend the meeting. Let’s call him Jack. He had a conflict that evening, but still had questions he wanted to discuss. We agreed to schedule a phone call for Friday morning.
I called Jack promptly at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning. Jack apologized for missing Wednesday’s meeting but thanked me heartily for talking with him. He told me that he was baffled by a recent experience with a recruiter. He went on to say that he was a finalist for a senior position in a family-owned company. The recruiter managing the search was, in fact, a consultant working with this employer. My antennae became activated. Jack worked closely with this consultant who stroked his ego and promised him a serious, long-term relationship. He took Jack through an elaborate interview process including case studies, presentations, and social events. When the client was ready to make the hiring decision, the consultant told Jack to “sit tight” and wait.
Jack “sat tight” for eight weeks before he finally called the consultant. Now that floored me. I can't imagine why anybody would wait around for eight weeks for an answer to an otherwise, immediate decision. Or, why this consultant had not revealed that the other candidate was offered the job. I told Jack that waiting eight weeks to follow up with the executive recruiter was far beyond the concept of “sitting tight.”
My experience is that the final decision is made in a matter of days. I have had clients who ask me to keep the runner up “warm,” in case they fail to close the deal with their lead candidate. That is standard procedure for me as it is not uncommon for the primary candidate to reject the opportunity. I advise the runner-up to be prepared. I told Jack that he should have checked-in within one week. The consultant had failed to do his job.
The downside to my work is that I am the bearer bad news. Only one person will be chosen for any of my searches, so the other folks in contention will get a negative response sooner or later. Giving bad news to so many people over time is difficult. Executive Recruiters are human, and for some folks, this responsibility is something they can easily procrastinate. That doesn't mean to say that it's right, it's just a fact of life.
In this case, I am unclear as to whether the consultant had any experience conducting a search assignment. Notwithstanding, he gave my profession a black eye.
Jack should have contacted his recruiter earlier. It would not have changed the outcome, but he would not have wasted as much time thinking about the situation. It is also good to know who is conducting the search.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search
Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
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2. Director of Business Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company: Complete
3. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company: New
4. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Offer Accepted
5. Controller – Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New