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Fifty Shades of Hiring a Friend

..and the consequences of getting emotionally involved

Food for Thought

Surely there are loads of available candidates. I bet you get unsolicited CVs every day and phone calls from ex colleagues... it’s embarrassing isn’t it?!  Particularly if they have heard you have a vacancy. The trouble is, it wasn’t easy justifying your vacancy in the first place. You practically guaranteed your boss that the extra hire is business critical and would assure the future of the business! Not only is your job riding on it but... so is his!  You know you can’t afford to get it wrong. You need the best possible person for the job, but is it the up and coming, mouldable candidate or the fading superstar, or an ex-colleague?

You suspect the up and coming candidate may be easy to manage but can they cut it in challenging markets? The superstar may be difficult to manage… but they do have fantastic contacts and a proven track record. Then there’s the ex-colleague. You have heard John is finding it tough at XYZ Life, would he be open to a move?

You think it may be worth a try. You ring him and arrange lunch. Best not to mention the vacancy yet. Lunch goes well. You broach the subject. How are things at XYZ? “They are great” says John. “Would you ever consider joining me?” “Of course.” says John, “We were a great team. What did you have in mind?”.

You have a chat. He indicates some interest but not loads. “What would it pay?”. You try to play it up - overstating the likely salary... you should be able to persuade your boss. (Fingers crossed). John says he is pretty happy but wouldn’t rule it out. Can he have a couple of days to think it over?

You wait by the phone but he doesn’t call. Eventually you call him. He apologises. “Sorry I didn’t call… I have been so busy etc.” “No need to apologise.” you say, “We are all busy. He doesn’t mention the role so you do. “I was wondering if you have had a chance to think about the role I mentioned?” “Yes ..”. He has been busy and he needs a few more days. “I promise I will come back to you after I have the current tender out of the way, after the weekend.”.

When you talk again he asks some more questions? “I am still very interested but wondered how your plans are progressing with the new product launch? With your RDR plans?  With your new bonus scheme?”. Eventually you progress. He wants to join. He needs to be sure it is a competitive package. You try to talk it down. He says it is a bit light but he is sure you can reach a sensible arrangement. You were already pushing the boundaries… will your boss be willing to go higher?

Eventually you talk turkey. You agree that John can have extra freedoms; you stretch the car allowance, push the salary and add in some guarantees. Eventually you agree a deal. He verbally accepts your offer and you get it issued quickly.

He can’t resign until he receives his next bonus so you will have to wait a month. Then, when he resigns, he tells you he thinks his company want him to work his notice. This was not anticipated. He then says they are trying to counter offer him… but he won’t be swayed. He wants to join you. Then they offer promises of future promotion and more money. You now counter the counter-offer - your reputation really is on the line with your boss. You can’t afford to lose this one. He accepts your counter offer and says he will tell his current employer he definitely wants to leave. You breathe a sigh of relief.

All is calm for 4 weeks then you receive a call from John. “Can he check a couple of details? Can you send him a detailed copy of the car scheme? Can you just run over the employee share scheme, can you put something in writing?”.  You are keen to do so… it’s a buying signal right? A chance to build relationships again and loyalty…..maybe!

Then. Out of the blue John calls up.“I am really sorry to do this to you but you’ll never believe what happened. I have just received a dream job offer OUT OF THE BLUE! I really wasn’t seeking it and I was looking forward to joining you. But they somehow found out I was leaving XYZ Life, they know me by reputation and we had a couple of meetings last year but they had nothing suitable at the time and they offered me my dream job!... I wanted to tell you as soon as I knew because I really hate letting you down like this.” The rest is history. It doesn’t happy that often but I have seen it a few times in my 15 years as a recruiter and several times before that when I was a Regional Manager.

The trouble is…

Your assets are on the line.
Your boss’s assets are on the line.
You delayed the process to fit in with the candidate and now you have a void.
You also have no back up candidate as you didn’t undertake a normal shortlisting process. 
… Don’t get too emotionally involved.