I must admit – this is a NEW ONE FOR ME. Just when you think you have dealt with most scenarios relative to closing a candidate – reality sets in. This summer I was working on a retained search assignment for a top VP of Marketing role with an outstanding candidate that knocked the cover off the ball in every interview she had with my client. Great cultural fit, compensation was in line with the profile and the references were all stellar. To make sure there was support for her leading the marketing team, the CEO thought it would be a great idea to have her come back one last time and meet with her future team over lunch. Good plan. They loved her!!
In the delicate phase of pre-closing the candidate, it was my job to make sure she was interested and on board if/when an offer was presented. Based on the feedback I had been given – the offer would be made in a matter of days. I decided to give her a quick call at home – as she was much too paranoid to have me call her at work. Cool. No problem. This was late on a Wednesday afternoon. We connected and she was game on. All business. She knew this one was in the bag. Yep, her confidence level (did I say cocky??) was greater than anything I had seen thus far. She told me that she would need to understand all of the details of the offer if an offer was made, and she would review the offer in a couple of weeks.
Couple of weeks??? WHAT?
She told me she was leaving on Friday for Europe and would be unavailable to speak with me for two weeks when she returned stateside. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Let’s see what my options are… Do I choose Door #1 and book a ticket to and meet her in the UK? Or Door # 2 – work with the other two candidates and move on? OR..Door # 3 work out a communications plan with her and find a way to make this long distance situation work?
Time to approach her with my plan…OUCH! All of a sudden a (brick) wall went up – and she became very firm with me letting me know this vacation had been planned for quite some time and she did NOT want to think about this until she returned. WHAT? HELLOOOOO… Wait a minute, star candidate – you didn’t come clean with me on your travel plans, and I had NO idea about any two week vacation to Europe. She thought since she was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LvtDb0ZPwQ this might take her out of the running. OK – I think I get that:-( I think.
My client would be making an offer – TO HER – in a matter of a day or two. I knew it – and so did she.
Time to get back to one of the cardinal rules of executive search – "controlling the entire process". I explained to her that while she was certainly a great candidate and would be a solid fit – my commitment to my client was to give them choices and she was one of three candidates that made the final cut. I went on to explain that if an offer were made, I would have to have a way to contact her by phone, fax or e-mail . Period. Non negotiable.
She went back and forth about being "ON VACATION" and unavailable, and in the end she really liked this new opportunity and felt she could deal with a small interruption of her vacation time if an offer was made. WHEW!!! The offer came thru and I faxed it to her hotel in London. We went back and forth for a couple of days and got the deal done. She signed the offer and started her new role as VP of Marketing with a great company and a super package. She thanked me for pushing her and was glad she had the time to think thru the offer while she was out of the country.
Controlling the entire process is the key to managing client and candidate expectations. Sometimes you just have to push a little bit harder if the circumstances create the risk to having a successful outcome.
Some might say – I went over the top on this situation…
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….