My Big Recruiter Fail

By Tori Paterson, Tomahawk Recruitment, October 12, 2019

#lifelesson #tomahawkrecruitment #recruiterswhocare

I was recently asked what had been the highlights of owning my own recruitment agency.

My immediate response was that every day is different, interesting and fulfilling. I’ve met lots of wonderful people, I get to work with great clients who run are up to interesting things, and I get to help people find the type of job that they really want (versus what’s expected or dictated by their experience).

But then I realised the highlight was something that I initially thought of as a big fat FAIL.

I had a lead for a client with questionable people skills who had a vacancy that had been difficult to fill or retain for more than a couple of months. No problem I thought, I can sort that out & I’m great at working with all sorts of people. In other words, I fell into the trap disregarding rationality in order to build my client base.

It all started well; ads were posted, candidates were screened and interviewed, and I had a great shortlist.

However, not a single candidate that I put forward made the grade. My ego took a hit as I pride myself on presenting only top candidates. However, for this engagement I was told that I didn’t ‘get’ the brief, the goalposts kept moving, salary expectations kept reducing, etc, and each time I would go back to the drawing board.

After numerous rounds I had a candidate who really stood out. I mean, this guy was GOLD! After extensive reference checks, he was offered the role. ‘Great’, I thought. ‘I’ve achieved the unachievable. I’m a champion!’

I always conduct a health check with my placed candidates and they’re always delightful calls. But on this occasion, one week in, he was clearly stressed out. The role was nothing like what I sold him or what had been signed off by the client. I encouraged him to speak with his manager who assured him that this was short term and he would soon be doing what he was employed to do. I followed this up with my client who promised this was the case. Sadly, it wasn't. My candidate resigned soon after.

I had disregarded why I created Tomahawk Recruitment in the first place, which was to provide real value by placing ‘great people in great roles’.

My automatic was to go into solution mode and find a replacement (free of charge). Then it hit me! I was never going to win because this client was NOT aligned with the Tomahawk Values: simplicity, transparency, efficiency, partnership. My new focus was in managing this situation with respect and dignity for all parties.

I rang my client, took full responsibility, and acknowledged that we weren’t a good match for each other. I offered him a full refund which he gratefully accepted, and we parted ways wishing each other well.

So, my big 'FAIL' taught me valuable lessons:

  • Trust my intuition – the warning signs were there from the start

  • Resolutely stand by our values

  • We’re not the right fit for everyone, and that’s ok

  • Any situation can be managed with respect and dignity through open communication

We established Tomahawk Recruitment to be the best recruitment agency in Melbourne, and this was a test and an opportunity to send a message out to the universe to fulfil on our values of simplicity, transparency, efficiency and partnership.

With hand on heart, I can now say that all clients that we work with are aligned with our values and work in partnership with us.