Backdoor Hires – A Recruiters Worst Nightmare

As a recruiter you spend a lot of time searching for the perfect candidate for a role, and whether you found them by accident, or spent a long time pursuing them, the bottom line is that you have put time, effort and money into sourcing them. Unfortunately, there are times when your client may not consider your perfect candidate to be their perfect candidate. This happens in recruitment on a daily basis, and it’s probably something that you as a recruiter are used to dealing with.

However, what happens 6 months later you have another perfect role for that candidate, you head to their LinkedIn to try and contact them, only to find that they are working for the client that rejected them after you presented their CV 6 months ago? There are different ways that this kind of situation can be handled, and it is something that here at TBOS we see our agencies go through all too often.

How Do I Know If My Candidate Has Been ‘Back-Doored’?

Our agencies find out that their candidates have been hired by their clients without their knowledge in a range of different ways, however most commonly it’s through LinkedIn. Either they’re tracking a candidate because they had a sneaking suspicion that this may happen, or they’re trying to catch up with them for a new role – whatever the reason, we have seen it many times. Other agencies have simply phoned into the switchboard of their client and asked to speak to the candidate on the off chance that they were hired in the end. We have recently seen a situation whereby a candidate that had been permanently hired after a contract placement, was CC’d into an email between the agency and the client by another member of staff. The candidate dropped the client in it, without even realising. Another similar case was where one of our agencies contacted a candidate to advise them of some temporary work they had available, only to be told that they had been taken on full time at their previous placement. When a candidate has gone from a contract placement to a permanent placement, the client will often try to wriggle out of having to pay the temp to perm fee that the agency is rightly owed. It’s really common in the industry but it can be very easily avoided as long as you have water-tight Terms and Conditions.

So, if you find yourself in this situation, what are your options?

Hit The Client Where It Hurts

Chances are that if you are sending over CV’s to clients, they have already engaged your services and therefore agreed terms are already in place. Alternatively, you may be sending over CV’s with a disclaimer that refers them back to your T’s and C’s which automatically binds them to your standard terms. Whichever the scenario, you could send the Client an invoice to the value of what the suggested salary was for the role when you were searching for them, with a fee based either on your standard terms or the terms that you had agreed with the client at the time.

And Where Will This Lead You?

You may hit several barriers with this approach, one being a query around the terms of the hire, such as fee percentage and salary. This may mean that you end up having to decrease (or increase, stranger things have happened!) the fee you have just billed for, especially if the given salary is different, but at least the client are showing willing to pay. It’s more likely that the client will try to refute the full fee invoice – after all, if they wanted to pay a fee for the placement, they would have completed the hire through your agency in the first place. With these kind of situations, you do run the risk of losing a business relationship and potential future hires.

Take A Soft Approach

A lot of agencies will take quite a ‘soft-footed’ approach when it comes to backdoor placements. A simple, polite email explaining that you have been alerted to the fact that a candidate you introduced to the company is now seemingly working for them, yet you have not been paid a fee. You can say that you are sure this is an oversight and could you please have the full placement details (salary, invoice details, start date etc) so that you can send the correct invoice to the relevant person. A softer approach, such as this, may not stop the company from doing the same thing again, but it will likely make your agency look like the good guys and hopefully win future business from this client, owing to the way that you have dealt with a difficult and slightly awkward situation. It may even be that it was a genuine oversight by the client, and that after receiving a polite yet firm email, they agree to pay the fee owed and everyone is happy.

What’s The Point of Walking on Eggshells?

Taking a less abrasive attitude towards backdoor placements could actually end up being your saving grace – especially if your information is slightly incorrect. Here at TBOS, we have seen several situations where our agencies have tried to invoice for a backdoor placement based upon something they have seen on LinkedIn, or something they have heard along the industry grapevine. However, upon speaking to the client, the candidate either doesn’t work there at all, or they were hired outside of the timeframe set within the agencies T’s and C’s. In addition, it’s worth noting whether or not your T’s and C’s prevent clients from onboarding your candidates into different legal entities of the business. For example, if you introduced a candidate to the UK based technology sector of a company, are you covered if the same company hires them into their SE Asia finance division?

The bottom line is that with these kind of situations, it is really important that you know your terms of business inside out and that you can ensure that you are covered for exactly what it is you are fighting against. Not only need you know your T’s and C’s really well so that you can pinpoint and explain the exact clauses that the client has broken, the terms themselves also need to be really clear so as to provide as much protection for your agency in these kinds of situations as possible. There is nothing worse than putting so much hard work into sourcing and placing a candidate, than to have to waive the fee for the placement because you were missing the all-important sentence in your T’s and C’s, or because your client never actually agreed to them.

Here at TBOS, we have a dedicated contracts and legal department that can offer help and advice when it comes to ensuring that your terms offer your agency the most protection possible, and providing support if your client does decide to do the nasty. Feel free to give the office a call today to see how our contracts service, as part of the TBOS Complete package, can help you and your agency.