The Call

Hey John,

Thank you for taking my call today. When I explore an opportunity, I find myself conversing about finding the right client for the business. I am sure you do the same. 

I have just considered what we spoke about and decided to get back to you to explain where I stand.

We didn’t spend too much time getting to know each other was an opportunity missed. I hoped that we could have found out more about each other’s companies and what makes each of us tick. It would have been of benefit to both of us in deciding whether we are a fit. So maybe next time we should chat a bit more?

I went ahead and crafted a candidate profile based on your company offerings, current sales team and client profiles. This was easily and quickly managed to develop a long list of candidates (500 plus) and trimmed it to 100. As you said, right now, candidates and sourcing them is not an issue. 

I know you were stuck for a time as I would normally run through a short but detailed questionnaire with you. It’s a bit of a drag, but an exercise well spent as the outcomes really deliver when this form is completed, and we move through the hiring process.

I believe that the real work is mapping the market, screening and onboarding.

Strong Boolean search functionality and the AI available currently easily coughs up some great talent; all proven, hungry and with a solid client list.

I have no problem in offering a shortlist to you after I have personally screened all the candidates, but here’s the issue:

I won’t lead people on a promise

If there is an opportunity, that’s great, but if not, I’m afraid both ethically and professionally, I go no further.

 I have enough experience to see how this ends. For me and what I do, timing is a factor. The good candidates don’t last in the market that long. Keeping them warm based on the chance that a role comes up with your company is not enough for the candidate to pursue or me. I don’t want to approach anyone unless there actually is a real live current opportunity in the offing.

I understand that you may have mistaken me for a recruiter. I’m afraid this is not what I do, nor is it what I aspire to. The truth is I don’t harvest resumes. I don’t advertise roles. I don’t use Seek and don’t deal in quantity. It makes no sense for me to maintain a pool of latent talent waiting for me to call them for an update every other day.

 This is how I work

For me, it’s simple. You have a role. I offer you a shortlist of candidates that is spot on. The work is done. You don’t need to stare them down (although you can enter and join in my process as you see fit). The only thing you need to work out is if you can get along with them. Whether they are “good enough for the role” is well answered before you even set eyes upon them.  

I am here to offer you part of the solution to the conundrum the board handed to you last July when they gave you the figure you need to hit for the year. Given the right chance and retention by your firm, I can offer the whole solution on an ongoing basis.

This is why I mentioned to you today that I am not here to pitch to you. I am here to start a business relationship where you know, like and trust me enough to deliver what I have just said. This takes time, but I am happy to hold off on my company pitch until we both get to that point.

 The amount of work I put into my processes, research, methodology, and best practices to minimise risk for you, protect your brand, and maximise your hire’s tenure amounts to a lot. It also means the opportunity you are offering goes 100 % against the grain of how exec search works and indeed how I work.

One of your referees mentioned that you “know when to walk away if your solution is not fit for purpose.” It’s the same for me. Therefore, I am not willing to expose my brand or, indeed, yours to this exercise.

In conclusion

For what it’s worth, I believe that this is a complete waste of time. It only serves to nurture the already feeble opinion many people have of the talent search industry. It’s one of the main reasons why employers ghost people, and the middleman is made look like a used fool. There never was a role in the first place. The hiring manager was dipping his toe to see what the talent is like out there.

Here’s a question for you. How would you feel when your deal falls through, and you are told, “We have no budget actually. We just saw what it would take to get the deal over the line. Thank you for your efforts in any case!“

John, I don’t want to fall out with you, and I would like to remain in contact. Maybe one day our planets will collide, but until then, I thank you for your open and kind offer of ….having a shot by putting some talent in front of you for you to peruse, even though there was no role at all.

I won’t waste any more of our time on this particular engagement as I understand it. 

John, the best of luck to you, and thank you once more for accepting my connection on LinkedIn and hearing me out over the phone.


The characters in this article are fictitious!

I am eager to speak with hiring managers looking to grow their business or bring in new client-facing talent. If you are that manager who can afford a bit of up-front effort, I can guarantee that I will minimise the risk associated with the hire, maximise the tenure and duration of their career in your company, all while protecting your brand.

As ever, I welcome feedback and your opinion on this subject.

Comments are always welcome, so please let them in the section below.