Spherion Newsletter, June 2002
I had placed three people in six months with one of my top clients. I thought that I could read this client like a book. I could place a candidate for their Financial Reporting Supervisor position without breaking a sweat. The profile was not that difficult. It was a type of job that my co-workers and I had conducted a search for many times in the past. Month-end close responsibilities, preparation of monthly financial reporting packages, reconciliation of G/L accounts, ad hoc financial analysis, budgeting, and forecasting were the main job responsibilities. Big 5 accounting experience and a CPA were a plus. However, the ideal candidate would have both Big 5 accounting and industry accounting experience.
A couple of days after receiving the search go-ahead from my client, I presented them with three top-notch resumes. All of my candidates got interviews. My main contact, the Controller, told me that they were interviewing only five candidates. After hearing that, I was making plans for the following weekend thinking that a deal would be closed. Wrong! Only one of our candidates made it to a second interview with the CFO, and the CFO thought that he was not a culture fit. I could not believe this because the Controller, Clark, wanted to hire him. Well, it was back to the drawing board. Again, I presented another three solid candidates, but this time only two got selected to interview. One interview ended up getting cancelled because my client stalled, and our candidate accepted another job. Frustration started to set in. The other candidate who interviewed was not a fit, according to the Assistant Controller. Afterwards, Clark told me, “Ed, we are back to square one again. We desperately need resumes.”
Then something interesting happened: I brought a new candidate, Eric, into our office. Eric had four years of Big 5 accounting experience. He was not a fit at all on paper for the position, but he had a great resume. During our meeting, I had a gut feeling that if I could get Eric in front of the client to interview for the Financial Reporting Supervisor position, they would make him an offer. But how would I do this? After Eric left our office, I called Clark and spoke with him about the status of the search. The news was the same. Clark did not have any interviews lined up, and he needed to see some more candidates. At the end of the conversation, we confirmed that later in the week he and I would meet at the Institute of Management Accountants Meeting (IMA meeting). I am an IMA Board Member, and Clark had been interested in the organization for awhile. He had finally cleared his schedule to meet me at this particular gathering where the Secretary of State was speaking.
All of a sudden the idea hit me. I called Clark back later that night on his cell phone and laid it all out on the line. I asked him what he thought of our services to date, and he told me that he was pleased. “All of Spherion’s candidates were qualified candidates,” he said. “You have not wasted my time with one.” Then, I said it: “Clark, I have this gut feeling about a new candidate I’ve just met, Eric. I know that he might not be the perfect candidate on paper, but I see him fitting into your organization. He is the perfect culture fit. If he can attend the IMA meeting, would you take some time there to speak with him about your company and the position?” The pause was two seconds, but it felt like two minutes. Then—“Sure,” Clark responded. Now, I thought, I have to get Eric to attend that IMA meeting. I called Eric the next morning and explained to him that the client’s Controller would be attending the IMA meeting the following week, and that it would be in his best interest to be there as well. Eric told me that in fact he had always been interested in joining the organization, and this would be a great time to attend. It was set. All I had to do was introduce them now.
I walked into the IMA meeting, and Eric was the first one to greet me. In the dining room, I saved three seats at one of the back tables while giving Eric a quick prep. Eric and I then approached the bar where Clark was standing. Clark and I exchanged quick greetings and small talk, and I introduced Clark and Eric. Then, I quickly and professionally excused myself.
After the networking session ended, I approached the two of them and show them to our “reserved seats.” A member who knew Eric approached him, and they started talking. Thus, I had a few minutes with Clark. Clark told me what I wanted to hear: “Ed, get Eric’s availability for next week. I want him to meet with the team.”
I set up the interview for a Wednesday at noon. Eric did not have a cell phone, so I did not expect a call from him until later that night because it was hard for him to talk at the office. Shortly after lunch, the Assistant Controller called me and asked, “Are we Eric’s top choice? What did he say about us? Is he interested at all?” I told her the situation regarding his office and lack of mobile phone, and she understood. Then, Clark called me and asked me the same thing. He told me that if Eric was interested to go ahead and set up an interview with the CFO on Friday. Of course, Eric was interested. So, I set the interview up for Friday at 4:00 P.M. The interview went well. An offer was made at 5:30, and Eric accepted it at 5:45. He received a 24% raise and is now a top client of mine who returns my phone calls promptly. At 6:00 P.M., after booking the placement in the system and preparing the manual invoice, it was time to celebrate, but that would be another story.