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Sep 01 2016

For a Ha'porth of Tar

This month I'm writing about something that perplexes us as headhunters: why, when we've found the perfect candidate (and the client agrees) does the client then want to carry on looking for more?  What's to be gained?  (Apart from wasting time and running the risk of losing Ms Perfect Candidate.)  Another perplexing issue is why do clients sometimes then nickel-and-dime that Perfect Candidate when it comes to salary negotiations?

Let me illustrate with a recent experience.  Our Perfect Candidate has been identified, assessed, interviewed by us and by our client and it comes to an offer.  All agree that he is absolutely the one we must recruit – and we've spent three months looking, screened countless resumes, interviewed many candidates and shortlisted five or six.  So we know what's out there.  Then it's offer time: we recommend a guide package – taking into account what this experienced and senior candidate is making, his expectations, market rates and trends – which the client then ignores.  Instead he works out something within his own corporate guidelines that results in the candidate being offered a couple of hundred dollars more per month than they were already making.  What would you do if you were the candidate?  Of course he declined.  And we are still searching.

Do you agree that it's a curious way to run a business?  The client is trying to buck market trends on salaries and increases.  There's only one outcome: failure.  And that hurts us too.  We have a commitment to our clients to keep looking until the job is done – they have paid us to do it.  As well as the client spending (wasting?) a lot of senior management time reading our reports, interviewing and assessing our candidates.  There is one solid benefit in all of that: having a clear idea of the market for that particular job.  It's part of our role to deliver that to a client so they understand what is out there, even if they subsequently choose not to hire.  But when a position is vacant, and has been for some time, and there's a will to recruit, then why not get on and bite the (salary) bullet and make an offer that is reasonable, fair to both parties and, importantly, will be accepted?

It's our job to facilitate that and it frustrates us when a client refuses to accept market realities, insisting that there must be someone out there who can do the job and will accept under the going rate.  For a few dollars more – or a ha'porth of tar (for the older native English speakers, as I am) – why spoil the ship?

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.

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