Excuse Me? You Thought a BMW Was a Part of the Offer?…

It was a beautiful day in Atlanta, the sun was shining and my partner and I were just about to present an offer… You know the story-line…

I’m a recruiter and …that’s my job.

Okay. Here’s the deal… You are really excited (jacked) about the candidate of choice and the pendingBmw500series offer you are about to receive. No question about it — she’s the one!!! All clear on the references (remember I’m in the retained search business and we get this out of the way pre-offer). Education verification checked out as suspected (once again…done in advance). The really cool part is that she was available immediately (like ASAP), and given her status as VP of Marketing in a competitive technology marketplace – there was little doubt in my mind that corporate would send down the security guard to her office with an empty box around 5pm the day she decided to resign to help her pack.

No need to worry about which files she would need to take with her – they would all be staying with the company. Just the few personal items like photos and the shrine she built depicting her perfect life outside the company would ever make their way "inside the ‘box". Once she indicated she would be bailing – everything else would stay… Sorry – it’s company policy. 

Let’s face it — she knew too much and keeping her around for all of the gala departure parties and good-bye lunches will be much far too painful to watch, and the drama would result in the morale of the team she will be leaving behind sinking… So, I thought, before we make the offer, so she can resign, I need to (once again) trial close her as the finalist so there will be no room for any surprises — and leave little doubt that we are closing business after a ‘lay-up" offer.

Not so fast, Mr Executive Recruiter… Not so fast.

So… Let me walk you thru the "end of the offer" in slow-motion, so you can re-live the moment with me. I presented the offer to my star verbally (in advance of sending the written offer) to leave no doubt as to the stellar package being offered by my client. The salary and bonus were above the upper end of the range we discussed early on in the process. No relocation required (which is AWESOME in today’s environment). It all came together as planned. Then… my star candidate told me she wanted to make sure that the offer was equal to what she currently had on the table. Equal-????

She went on to inform me that the current company reimbursed her monthly for the "5-Series" BMW ($550/mo) and also happily paid the expenses for the executive office down the street from her home ($800/mo).  She just "assumed" that would not be a problem for the new employer.

"OUCH":-(  Sixteen Thousand Two Hundred Dollars and 00/00 cents.

That was a surprise.                  

In the end, we made it work – but not without lots of creative math and some delicate negotiations. We did not succumb to paying for the car lease or the office space, but it complicated things at the end of what was supposed to be a natural and exciting process for the client and the candidate.

The lesson here is to dig …dig a bit more and then dig some more. You must have the facts early in the process to avoid a ‘blow-up" at the end. I’ve found that if you don’t ask…in many cases, they will not tell. A detailed and thorough/methodical process will usually save you big bucks and headaches at the end. Make sure you always ask plenty of questions. To quote Dragnet’s Joe Friday and add something appropriate, I should have asked her "Just the facts ma’am – But all the facts"…

FOT Background Check

Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He's a closer, and you really don't want to call him unless you're ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim - his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being "detail oriented" in their feedback....


  1. Wow Tim…this sounds like a true/personal story…
    Do you think this “star” was holding out on ALL the facts b/c she knew she was a “star” and could get away with it – and maybe in the end get what she really wanted? Or, was she REALLY innocently assuming that it wouldn’t be a problem for the new employer?
    You are right…dig, dig, and dig a little more to make sure everyone understands all the expectations…in the end you’ll all be glad you did.

  2. Jessica Lee says:

    Hey Tim. Good story. I’ve gotta say though… shame on the candidate for not disclosing the car/office allowance earlier on. Yes, we should dig and dig… but for her not to discuss that with you when the offer was made? I think that’s total BS!

  3. Not only will they not tell, they are advised in books, from headhunters, and personal coaches NOT to tell. Bargaining chips!

  4. KD says:

    Interesting story. When I see circumstances like this, I always question the orginal motivation of the candidate. Given the fact that Tim finally got the candidate signed, I guess the candidate was legit. I’ve had several who late-gamed me that I ended up were acting and truly window-shopping the whole thing.
    I think both Michael H’s and Tim’s point are correct. Recruit long enough, and you’ll have candidates who play games all the way through the process (MH’s point). It’s up to us to ensure we ask the “is there anything else” question to make them decide if they are going to do the equivalent of lie to the recruiter. Gotta force the moment of truth….

  5. Tim Tolan says:

    She was very legit and she knew it!
    I think this was a case where the candidate was a “dead ringer” for this position and she knew it! …So did my client. She negotiated the BEST deal on salary and bonus and then did a “oh by the way” at the end.
    I told her after all was said and done – that had she told me early on – we could have prevented an ugly scenario that fortunately (for all parties) turned out very positive. I have now added automobile and remote office allowance as questions in my candidate screening process. No more surprises on that issue again!!!

  6. Wow. I can’t imagine tacking on an extra $16,200 at the end of a deal, but I admire anyone who is good enough to make that demand.
    I guess the rest of us have to keep plugging on until we reach that level!

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