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Being Left "High and Dry"

October 12, 2012
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Not to send a message of sour grapes with a recent candidate experience I had, but... why not? When I bring a candidate to the table, prep him for an interview, negotiate an offer, and then he decides to no-show for a position he'd accepted, it sends me a loud message to me and the countless others who've put their time into the search - we've been left "high and dry'". It's surreal to step back and think that all the effort that went into this search was wasted.

It's human to make mistakes and to sometimes change our minds on important issues. I get that. What I don’t get is when someone doesn’t have the decency or strength of character to pick up the phone (or even return a phone call after pulling out) to explain what's happened and why the candidate decided at the very last minute not to show up. It’s called business etiquette (or proper protocol, or whatever you want to call it) and in this case, it did not happen. Receiving that call from a client trying to find out why their new recruit has failed to show up on Monday morning is completely embarrassing. This is after they’ve invested time and resources to prepare for the new employee’s arrival, of course, including:

  • Setting up voicemail
  • Establishing an e-mail account
  • Ordering credit cards for travel-related expenses
  • Ordering and paying for a new cell phone
  • Ordering and paying for a new laptop
  • Booking airfare for an upcoming trade show
  • Scheduling a complete training and on-boarding plan      
  • Announcing the “New Employee” to the entire employee population

So by now I think you get my point. Backing out of an offer -  after telling everyone involved how excited you are about joining the organization, signing and accepting the job offer while continuing to look for a better deal like some NFL or NBA free agent -  is just plain wrong. You've destroyed your brand equity and your reputation in the market and risk having this story told to others who may know lots of influential people in this space.

If you do find yourself struggling with a decision to accept an offer, then by all means, listen to the little voice inside your head and opt out early. Do it out of respect for the very people who've invested time, energy and money in vetting you as a candidate. Leaving them high and dry has real consequences downstream, not just for the organization and recruiter, but also for you and your brand.