When Keeping It Real In HR Goes Wrong…

Tim Sackett Uncategorized

****Trench HR Alert****

When Dave Chappelle had his show on Comedy Central, he had a segment that was called: When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong. He basically took everyday situations, like the one below and showed what happens when someone tries to thug-it-up in a normal environment.  For some reason, this reminds me of Front-line HR work – or how many have taken to call it: Trench HR: (email subscribers, click through to view…)


Chappelle’s Show
When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong – Vernon Franklin
Buy Chappelle’s Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story


I had one of those Trench HR moments recently – a situation I’ve seen many times in my HR career – and one that, over time, I have taken a 180 degree turn in how I deal with it.  Here’s the situation: hiring manager calls and wants you (me) to make an offer to a strong candidate, one that has been very hard to find – tough position to fill – we’ve been searching for a while (who all feels me on this one, right?).  I’ve done my work, pre-closed the candidate – this offer is just a formality – I already know he’ll accept.  Make the verbal offer at $60K, candidate is excited, accepts – everything is golden.

Let’s move forward in the process. Paperwork comes in the mail to the candidate and there is a typo in the amount we are offering – and the “new” amount is $64K.  I see the error and call the candidate to let them know we’ll get out some new paperwork, because of this error.  Now is where the problems start.  Candidate says now we discussed $64K, not $60K – if “I” am now going back on my offer – “I” must be shady and “he” doesn’t want to accept the offer. But, since he has already put up money on a house, he is willing to still come if “I” will honor the $64K.  Houston, we have a problem.

Now, early on in my HR career – I probably would have buckled and given this person the money – you know the deal – it’s my error, I need to honor it, yadda, yadda.  But, you know what?  I figured out something in 20 years of being a Trench HR Pro.  Mistakes happen – and it doesn’t mean I need to cut a check every time they happen.  If the government screws up and sends me a tax refund of $93M – they aren’t going to let me keep it. In fact, if they send me a tax refund for $.93 more than I should get they won’t let me keep it.  There are a couple of things I know about myself: 1. I’m not shady (you won’t find someone as up front about stuff as me) and 2. I call bluffs.

I told our candidate – thanks but no thanks.  The offer was $60K and I completely understood if he didn’t want to accept and that was his choice.  Good luck.  What did I put at risk?  The hiring manager being mad, but I have the kind of relationship with him where he knows I’m looking out for his/our best interest. Sure, there was also my own reputation at risk by backing down to this candidate – I’m letting him say, “Yeah, you’re right! I’m shady and I’m trying the ole bait-and-switch.”  So, stick to your guns, be willing to walk away – you’ll always (yes, always) be able to find another candidate.

And, yes – he still came in at $60K.