headhunters talk about their wildest and most interesting stories

Posted by Ed 7 mths ago

John Touey, Salveson Stetson Group


Back in the early 2000s, we verified a candidate’s education by calling the university instead of doing it electronically. For one particular candidate, this process became a bit of a saga as we tried to verify his bachelor’s degree.


We’d call the registrar’s office and they’d say they didn’t have a record of this degree being conferred to this individual. Then we’d call the candidate, and he’d say, “That’s not right. I’m going to go home to my parent’s house and I will dig out my diploma and send it to you.”


When we called one last time, the university told us that our candidate had actually walked into the registrar’s office a few days before and offered a clerk a significant amount of money—something like $10,000—to tell us that he had a degree from that university.


Beyond trying to bribe a registrar employee, the candidate found an alum with the same name and tried to pass himself off as that individual. (That individual actually worked for our client.)


So the candidate told us he messed up the degree and dates he’d given us, and gave us the degree and dates to match this other individual. And he actually asked the guy if he could have his social security number to give to us to verify the degree, basically saying, “Hey, we’re going to be colleagues, could you do me a solid?”


He was a good candidate! Our client liked him. And he was fairly senior, not a c-level executive but definitely somebody working at a VP level. The fact that he put a degree on his résumé that he didn’t have, that’s not terribly unusual. But the amount of effort he put into trying to convince us—he must have really wanted the job.


Missed connections


Kelsey Buterbaugh, Robert Walters


I work with high-growth startups, and more of the crazy stories happen with early-stage founders who need a little more guidance than an experienced CEO who has founded, like, four companies.


We had one client that drove us crazy—it was a startup with a super unprofessional founder. He and his firm basically hired and fired the same person, like, three or four times. They kept revoking the offer, and then giving it back to the candidate. The founder also crossed so many other boundaries, too—asking us to set them up on dates, if we knew anyone who was interested. It was just beyond.


So the whole time we’re just trying to play middleman. The job candidate was still very interested in the company, it was a big seed, but the founder was just very indecisive. Ultimately, the candidate ended up landing with the client—and then got let go after roughly three months.


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