Insiders’ view of the world of headhunting

‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors.
[Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged]
8:00am Monday – Reviewing a recent assignment

I called to speak to a board director at a travel leisure company that I’d placed one month previously. The individual was vibrant and not in any way daunted by the enormous challenge faced because they could see other changes being made to the company’s board. They could see the business being successfully turned around and being an exciting place to work for the next three to five years. The 3am starts and 4:30am flights would be too much if he couldn’t see the vision.
Being a Monday I didn’t also call the company’s CEO to discuss the board director as I knew he’d be too busy reviewing the previous week’s events and trading.
CEOs: busy on Mondays
5:30pm – Unhappy CEO

While in a meeting I get a voicemail from the CEO asking – in a polite way – if I could please call him about the outrageous invoice I’d sent him for the latest piece of recruitment I’d undertaken for him involving another board director – brought into the chief marketing officer’s (CMO) role. Although they had not yet started, the contract was signed and sealed and the assignment was closed.
This person had – wrongly in my opinion – been turned down for the original position that I’d put them forward for but then when the CEO realised that they could be useful in his business he’d made room for them on the board to take the CMO position.
6:05pm – Play by the book

I was amazed that after a very successful and exciting campaign to recruit this person as CMO the CEO had questioned my invoice. In recruitment T&C’s if I present a candidate’s CV and it is accepted as part of a short-list on an assignment and then at a later date is rejected for that role but then the candidate is used for another role at the same company then the full fee is applicable.
In reality I’d spent two months continuing the various interviews with this candidate, negotiating on their behalf for the new role, providing the client with feedback, and preparing the candidate for each meeting including much soul searching during the process to ensure the role was right for them. All with a cost attached.
6:15pm – Remind him of earlier call

I call the CEO back and leave a message that reminds him of a conversation we’d had three months ago when he’d rejected the candidate. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay the fee if we take the person on at a later date,’ he had said to me.
6:00pm Friday – CEO’s denial

He left a message on my mobile denying all knowledge of the conversation. He suggested he did not want to fall out over this issue but re-stated his view that he did not like to spend money on recruitment. And then he added, ‘Have a great Bank Holiday weekend. I’ll call you on Tuesday morning.’
Tuesday – Silence

No call received from the CEO.
3:00pm Wednesday – Re-iterating my position

I call the CEO to let him know that I didn’t receive the expected call from him on Tuesday and so I thought I’d ring to remind him of the conversation we’d had about my fees.
Good idea to read them
All recruiters have a clause on their T&C’s clearly stating that if a candidate is rejected but is then offered a totally different role in the same company within a 12 month time-frame then the full fee is to be paid.
As I run my own business I have the benefit of being flexible and making the decisions but in order that I retain a level of professionalism I adhere to the rule that if a CEO wants to negotiate then they should do it up-front and not when the candidate has signed up to their new role and has a start date.
Thankfully this is a rare occurrence. It is particularly galling in this instance as the client now has a great new CMO who ended up taking the position at a salary £25,000 less than their previous role. I helped them overcome this potential obstacle – to the financial benefit of their new employer and the company’s CEO, but not to me it seems at this stage.
…to be continued.
Sponsored column by Nigel Sapsed, director of executive search specialist Sapsed Stevens