As recruiters, we’ve all got stories of job offers gone wrong. But it’s rare that I get knocked off of my bum with job offer horror stories like this particular one I heard the other week. Call me naive… but, I’ve got to admit that I was a little surprised when an independent, third party recruiter friend mentioned to me a recent situation where he had personally agreed to give a candidate a cut of the fee he was to receive from the employer for the candidate’s very placement… tragic story indeed.
Wait. Huh? The details, I’m still having trouble recalling because I am still stuck at – this recruiter agreed to give his candidate a cut of the placement fee if he accepted the job? What the…? I mean – does this really happen all the time and I just have never been aware of the practice being on the corporate side? I’m still kinda baffled by this and something about the scenario just doesn’t sit well with me.
First, to the third party recruiter – I get it. That fee is yours. If I hire you on a contingent basis, and you find me the best possible candidate, you’ve earned your fee and you can honestly do with it as you please. Take that 20% that we’ve agreed upon and send off your mortgage payment. Go buy a Gucci bag or two, pay a semester of tuition, put it in the bank… it’s yours. But pay a candidate a portion of your fee? Really? Are other folks seeing this? Are other folks doing this?
I suppose there are a few ways to look at this situation.
In this third party recruiter’s mind – he’s doing the client and candidate both a favor. The candidate is right for the job. The client is a great fit for the candidate. It’s a match made in heaven and to please all parties – the client, the candidate – what’s $5K in the grand scheme of things? To deliver the ultimate client service possible, to get that candidate in the door and the offer package he really wants, why not give $5K to the candidate personally if that’s what’s needed to close the deal?
On the flipside though… let’s say a candidate we’re working with needs an extra $5K in their offer package in order to say yes to a job offer. How there could not be any other viable alternatives to the third party recruiter giving up $5K for their own fee? Could we not explore getting that additional $5K to the candidate-turned employee after they’ve shown their worth, post hire? Maybe do it in the form of a retention bonus tied to results of some kind?
Fine. Let’s say that option fails. If really, truly I can’t squeeze another ounce out of my company’s budgets to add in that $5K needed to seal the deal, but you as a third party recruiter will close the gap – doesn’t this bode poorly for the candidate that a third party is literally stepping in to meet their expectations? Because really – that third party surely won’t be around come time for future bonuses or performance reviews. I promise you that. So, who’s the candidate going to turn to then? See where I’m going with this? And so, why muddy the waters up now? If salary expectations can’t be met from the get go – how will they be met later?
Of course – there are details to this story that I probably don’t know and that could change the dynamic of this story in many ways… but I’m still baffled and slightly troubled by the very premise of a third party recruiter paying out of his or her own pocket to close a deal. Or am I alone on this one? I’d love to know what folks are seeing out there – from both sides of the fence as a corporate or third party recruiter. Hit the comments section up…
Jessica Lee is a VP of TA at Marriott International where she leads a team that enables the company to think big, broad and boldly about all things talent acquisition and in effect, keeps them relevant and ahead of the curve in how they attract and acquire top talent. Don’t be fooled by that fancy pants title and description though, she’s still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade and a half into trench HR life… she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat.