It stings to lose a great candidate

My $100 per Hour contractor did not show up

Back in 2007 I worked for an IT consulting and staffing company.  I did staffing work with some high profile companies.

One of my clients asked me to find a candidate for a very high profile IT position within their organization. If I found the right person and filled this position, I would be able to bill over $150 per hour, for a 6 month contract.  Good money. The candidate was going to be able to make as much as $100 per hour.  Equally good money for the right contractor.

I put a lot of work into this staffing project and found the right guy.

I got the candidate approved by the client.  I sent them the contract and they sent it back signed.

I worked with the candidate and got a signed agreement from him as well.

Everything was in place, except the last 2 steps.

I sent the candidate an email scheduling the background check and drug test.  No response.

I called his cell phone and left a voice mail message.  No call back.

I repeatedly called him the next day.  Again, voice mail and no call back.

I emailed him numerous times during the next few days – no reply at all.

One of my business contacts threw up the, “he must not be able to pass the drug test” statement.

I responded, “no, I think something else happened, just not sure what.”

I heard nothing for over a week. During this time the client checked with me to see if everything was in order.  I had to break the news to him that the candidate disappeared.  I offered to find another candidate but he said, “I already have a #2 candidate lined up. No need.”

I lost the contract.

The earlier mentioned business contact said, “I told you, he couldn’t pass the drug test or background check. Too bad.”

Again, I held true to my original thought, “no something else must have happened.”

About 3 weeks later I got a late night email from the candidate.  It said something like, “Hello Teddy. I am sorry I had a family emergency and had to leave town.  I’ll explain when I get back in town.”

Another few weeks went by. My phone rang one afternoon. I answered it and discover it was my lost candidate.  He started the conversation with an honest apology before he explained what happened.  He got a middle of the night phone call that his Dad passed away. He flew out that next morning to spend the next month with his family.  Dealing with the loss of his Dad, handling the family estate arrangements, preparing the family home for sale and helping his younger family members to deal with the pain. While dealing with his family emergency he purposely dropped all work related activity.

He asked me what happened to the position and I told him I lost it to another staffing company.  He apologized again and asked me if it would help if he apologized to my client.  I told him that was not necessary. I had already told them that he had to leave town for a family emergency.

We shook hands and parted hoping that we would be able to work again one day.

Fast forward 1 year.

I got a call from the candidate.  He now had a high profile job with a local high profile company. He invited me in to meet.

When we got together he told me that he was appreciative that I had not spoken ill of him even though he caused me some problems.  He wanted to make it up to me some how.  In his new position he was responsible for hiring IT contractors and wanted to give me the first opportunity to fill the positions he had open.

Now I was the one being thankful.

The point of this story is quite simple.

I had no idea why my candidate disappeared.  For this reason I did not publicly speculate that the candidate had an employment problem.  I decided to stay professional and not “burn” my candidate.  I have always believed hat this is how you should treat people.

Treat people with respect and don’t assume the worst.  You never know what may happen in the future.