TRUE STORY (names and certain details changed for protection):
Staffing is an interesting business. Generally it has been a good business for me. I've met some of the best people in this industry and have worked with people who are dedicated like nobody's business. There is just one incident that I can truthfully say which I am writing about is the single worste experience of my (professional) life. It is the kind of experience you hope never happens to you personally and it is in a way very confusing because it just doesn't make any sense. I will change names to protect the identities of those involved and I will try my best to stick to the facts.
I've been in the IT Recruiting business since the year 2000. Times had been tough recently and I was looking for work. I get a call from a fellow recruiter who works for Global Hire Me Staffing Services. She begins to explain this great opportunity to work contract (this means on a temporary basis for an hourly rate) for their client in Orange County, California. The phone interview goes well and we decide that I should meet the boss/owner of GHMS who is acting as the recruitment department manager for their OC client. (Basically, the client had just started it's HR department and so the VP of the department, who had been there about 6 months, decided that he would outsource the recruitment to one company, GHMS). *Side note: The VP of the HR department and this guy from GHMS had worked together before in a similar fashion at a company across the street.
The interview with "The Boss" of GHMS goes well. In fact, I met with at least 3 of the managers at the client's site and later found out through TB (The Boss) that everyone had selected me to be the best person for the job out of all 3 candidates who were in the running. At the time I had been interviewing at one other place but that opportunity had not really turned out as expected. After a little negotiation with the specific terms of the agreement and dollars mainly, we decided that I would start work on November 4th as a contractor for an hourly rate + bonuses + expenses.
NOTE: I've worked as a contract, employee of major corporations and as a commissioned staffing company headhunter. More on the difference on one of my previous posts "31 flavors of recruiting".
I find out that although TB is the acting Staffing Manager for the client, he's rarely in the office. His own office is so far he needs to fly in once a week or every other week or so. He runs an independent business that services many other clients while simultaneously representing this particular one on an on going basis. I know this fact because it was communicated to me as such from at least 3 individual including TB himself. Also, he bills the heck out of this client.
So I show up at the client's site in OC the first day, Nov. 4th and realize that nobody is there to greet me. The VP of HR for the client, comes out and asks me if I was supposed to meet TB there? Obviously nobodhy was prepared. No computer or email. I have a habit of being overprepared. As a result, I was glad to have brought my lap-top and cell phone. (Having been a contract recruiter before, I understood possible snafoos early in the process but this kind of took the cake).
I communicated my needs for email, phone, and computer to both TB and VP of HR for client. Three (3) days go by and still no resolution. I continue to work with what I got. This is when the first interesting event occurs in a long series of mind boggling things. In a follow-up call TB asks me when he can expect to get a hire from me. --- That OBVIOUSLY took me aback.
A) It's only been THREE (3) days since I started.
B) NOBODY gave me any direction or tools.
C) What the heck is going on in Alice in Wonderland over here?
I have to say this question gave me pause. I had to think. If you are not in the staffing industry, this question might not really have any meaing. However, to me, I found this an interesting question considering the circumstances. I felt it was a bit early for this question but he's the boss right? Put it this way. If you needed to build a house, a team of builders with all the tools and materials "might" be able to do it in 1 month if their fast and maybe 2-3 months if they're average right? How long would it take one man with a hammer and no direction from the client/manager?
I gave the best answer I could. I said something to the effect that I could not be able to accurately determine a hire at this point and that it was too early for me to make that estimate although I was making contacts and doing everything I could. I told him also that I did not want to make empty promisses when I knew full well there was still a lot of work to be done. TB seemingly accepted the answer. ---- He tells me a different story later by the way.
This question resurfaces about every two or three days thereafter. As the weeks move on, I was able to give more feedback. Also, I began submitting weekly reports that clearly depicted progress. In 4 week's time, and after being asked about half a dozen times, I was able to say that I expected 2 hires. Although not a "done deal" yet both seemed very advanced in the process and shown very sincere signs of wanting to join and managers a desire to make an offer. To have 2 hires in the first 30 days is above average success. (Averaging 2 permanent hires per month is nothing remarkable, however accomplish this in the first month is truly an achievement).
NOTE: To better understand this might be hard for some people. How hard is it to just find two bodies with A, B, C skills and just get them hired? It doesn't work like that. This really requires thorough explaning but let me just use an illustration. In sports you can't just throw Kobe Bryant into any team and expect that team to win a championship. Not only that, to even get along and be as good as he would be with the Lakers and Coach Jackson. Just because you have an opening for a Point gaurd doesn't mean any point gaurd will work with your coaching style, the members of your team, your fans, the practice regimine, philosophy of how to win, etc. etc etc. You get the picture? Not to mention there aren't a lot of Kobe level stars to begin with. Yes, we truly take every detail into consideration.
Step one, we have to get accustomed to how things work at the client's site before we can accurately assess the best fit. ---- Rule of thumb: It usually takes 2-3 months to make the first hire and then average 1-3 hires per month thereafter depending on the complexity and difficulty of positions.
My duties were to 1) meet and understand hiring managers and develop relationships with them, 2) understand hiring needs/open positions thoroughly and submit great quality candidates, 3) submit feedback and reports to TB and VP of HR as well as the client/hiring managers.
As the days turned into weeks, I genuinely felt the momentum growing and my pipeline of candidates increase significantly with high quality people. I have to say I was feeling great about my work and was getting positive feedback. I really felt this was going to last. I felt lucky to have landed such a great gig during such hard economic times. My relationship with the managers were growing and I was getting to seriously understand their needs. I felt great about the job, the work environment, peers, hiring managers and my own performance. Also I was constantly receiving positive feedback for my performance from everyone, including the managers and even TB himself.
I submitted my first invoice on the 15th as agreed. I submitted 2 invoices per month which included my hours worked and any normal expenses such as meals with candidates or managers and $50 cell phone alotment per month. Payment was due in 5 days as agreed. The first check bounced. --- UHHH what the????
NOTE: Ok I was a little shocked but I kept my cool. It happens right. You have a particular month with unexpected bills and how embarassing. So I played it cool. TB probably just made an error and is embarassed, so I thought. (I find out later that he had a bad habit of doing this).
We talk and TB agrees to make good the following Tuesday. That day comes and goes with no check and no phone call or communication. Puzzled, I called TB who again promisses to make good on the following Tuesday. The second Tuesday comes and goes and now the second invoice is due along with the first. -- Uhhh slightly frustrated....
I called TB each time the invoice was due and finally we set an appointment to meet. TB flys down --- (to pick up his third check, as it turns out from the client, this month. Ok what this means is that TB is submitting his own invoices which includes payment for my hours but he is not paying me. Of course I didn't know this little tid bit of info until a bit later).
Anyway, in this meeting TB explains he is under some financial difficulty as his business credit had been reduced. *Considering the difficult economic times, I think to myself, this explaination seemed reasonable. I felt a bit of compassion for him. However, what still concerned me was how poorly TB had handled the situation. All he had to do was call me and tell me this before instead of making promisses he couldn't keep. -- Right? Isn't that what you would expect?
After a very long time, TB finally pays. You better believe I cashed the check immediately. I left the office right away and went straight to the bank. TB's attitude towards me had become increasingly hostile I noticed as well. He had become quite aggressive about the details of each candidate that I had submitted and who was going to get hired, etc. etc. I did find it a bit offensive and needless. However, I gave him the answers each time. I found out later that TB was under pressure for not making hires previously (before I was hired). Whatever the case, I was doing the best I could and seeing good results. I had evidence by the fullness of quality candidates in my pipeline and I had addressed each need promptly while receiving great posative feedback along the way.
So here's the deal. Things start to go seriously south pretty quickly. We have another meeting where TB asks to see resumes of current and active candidates. Ok so there might have been about 6 or so positions for which I had about 15-18 qualified people in the pipeline....this is like week 5 from starting without a computer, desk or phone or email. I would have to say this is objecitvely speeking good progress. Seriously, great progress. I managed myself and I did everything by figuring it out. I had many people scheduled for first and second interviews. I mean we were in good shape.
Strangly, after the meeting with TB, guess what? I got fired.
Here's how it went down....
So I finally get paid for my final invoice which represneted 3 weeks of work. I cashed the check like I said previously.
We have that meeting where I show him 15-18 resumes and details of where they are in the process. In this meeting TB tells me he wanted to fire me the week before....on what grounds I don't know????? and that I was wrong for submitting a candidate to a manager for one of the positions that I had someone good for since there was someone else (he had recently hired) who was responsible for that group. So that's a whole other story but he hires a second recruiter and asks me to show her the ropes right? Guess who replaced me later? Guess what her experience with this TB guy was like? --- Exactly the same!!! Guess what? Is there any surprise there a list of people who were cheated by this guy?
Ok so anyway this was all confusing to me at the time. A week previous to my last day, he had hired someone out of the blue to be my counterpart (this explains his original statement of wanting to fire me before right? Not really....she is only handling 1/4 of the load I was responsible for). Anyway, I already had 2 or 3 people before her arrival for this group and so I was just following up....you know, providing good service. Well even after careful explaination TB continued to be upset. It made no sense to me.
CHECK OUT WHAT HAPPENS......
Anyway, VP of HR for client, offers to work direclty with me. He tells me I'm DOING A GREAT JOB!!! I agree that it would be best and that I've had some troublel with TB. That I've wanted the same thing but could not approach "the client" about it due to my duty with TB. I was glad "the client" approached me! I tell TB, and he gets upset. He has a 45 minute to 1 hour talk with VP and the very next day I get fired.
I submit my final invoice to TB and VP. They get ignored. I also submit my final recruitment report.
I soon find out that TB has a hsitory of not paying his bills (mentioned earlier).
TB threatens legal action and I'm confused. I was the one who was cheated, how can this guy sue me I wonder? ???
I report TB to all the government agencies that should know about his conduct.
I found out through another lawyer (representing the before mentioned individuals who are in pursuit of a law suit against TB) that TB was declined by some laywers but finally has found legal council and that he should contact him. I spoke to TB's lawyer, who promises to return the call but does not. I gets my own legal representative. Now it's a matter of what to do.
I know I'm right.....I just don't know if I'm going to get justice.
So....since the last post.... there's been a little back and forth between TB's lawyer and my lawyer who happens to be a family member. Anyway a lot of nonesense mostly. TB's lawyer is merely a messanger.... he forwards requests made by TB. If I had to guess, I would say that TB's lawyer doesn't really believe TB either. The guy is a nut really. So check this out. TB owes me $5k lets say. He hires a lawyer...mabye $100-200 per hour on the inexpensive side? Lets say he spends $500-$1000. What's the point of all this right? I mean....we're not talkn about $10s of thousands or hundreds of thousads. It's just not worth going through all of this, especially when all 100% of the evidence is against this guy. Some people are simply unreasonable. It's two things.
1. This guy is just a greedy cheating SOB.
2. This guy is a bully and that's it. He's won 3 out of 4 doing things this way as it turns out. How? Simply because most people either settle or give up. ME? HELL NO. ALL THE WAY TO COURT IF YOU SCREW ME BUDDY!
So he offers a settlement of say $3k. Stupid... right? Why is he offering a settlement if his argument is that I don't deserve the payment I'm billing him for? The fact is, I billed TB, TB billed client, Client paid TB for my bills.....TB does not want to pay me.
Crazy....this guy is just out there.
I won TWO Law suites. One filed by TB and one I filled against him in small cliams court. Bastard closed his business account. That's OK my judgment is on HIS PERMANENT RECORD AND I have 10 years to collect!!!!
Lesson: Don't give up and don't let yourself be bullied.
I'll collect on my invoices eventually....believe me....I'm not done.....
I'm in the process of collection. The guy closed down his business bank account....of course he did. I'm filing paperwork to get him to pay. This is such BS. How do people get away with this crap? One thing is for certain, he's got tihs on his record. That's right, he lost a law suit where he was charged with an unpaid invoice.