In Transportation and Logistics recruiting, we always have an eye out for well qualified and successful Professionals.  As mentioned in other Blog posts, the hard part about recruiting is finding the people who aren’t actively looking for a job and are close to an exact match for what you client is looking for.

I could probably write 2 or 3 Blogs on the nuances between Ocean Freight sales professionals who work directly for an Ocean Carrier versus a Freight Forwarder, but this Blog is about a good Carrier client of mine and one of the best Ocean Carrier Sales Reps I have ever talked to.  I will have to keep the names of both Client and Candidate confidential but this story is a real as it gets and another perfect example of how you just never know how a recruiting file is going to go and what reasons hiring managers have for pulling the trigger on a hire.

It goes like this:  This client is a top Ocean Carrier and I have done many placements with them over the years, and this was for a “Key Account Business Development Manager” position with a base salary in the $120-130K range plus bonus and benefits etc…etc…  I knew the Hiring Manager as I had worked with him/her before and called right away to ask my usual questions.  You see there is what the Job Description says (usually gone over with a fine tooth comb by HR) and then there are always some additional and more specific things usually unique to the area the Hiring Manager is interested in if we can find them. In this case, one of the most important things a great candidate could bring to the table was a relationship with a fortune 50 customer in the area.  If I gave you the location the more astute among you would know the customer but let’s just say, they are a huge customer for any Ocean Freight company. So I find what looks to be a good candied and reach out to him.  He calls me back and in a 30-40 minute conversation he goes from a good candidate, to a great candidate to a perfect candidate.  Not only does he have demonstrable success and a stellar career progression over 15 years, he checks every box for the requirements and is off the charts from a personality and communication skills stand-point.  A complete and polished professional, no doubt about it. Then to put a cherry on top, when I ask him if he has any relationship with customer X, he laughs a little as say “Oh yeah….been calling on them for about seven years….took me 3 years just to get them to give me a listen, but they finally did and I have been earning my way up the ranks ever since…..I won their “Vendor of the Year” award last year”.  Well, needless to say I was pretty happy to find an Ace like this and when I presented him to the client they were too.  Phone interview went stellar!  Hiring Manager flew in for a face to face and all feedback from both parties was very positive and we were told the next step would be for the Hiring Manager and the National Sales Manager to fly in for a final interview. I was waiting for a reply on the old “dates that would work” email from the client when out of nowhere I get a completely different email, I got the dreaded “We have made a decision on a candidate, please let all other candidates know we appreciate their time but they will not be moving forward” email.  I was stunned!  The candidate was stunned!  By this time I had been a professional Transportation recruiter for about 12 years and had seen a lot and had a lot of wins and a lot of loses, but this one took the cake!  I can handle a “we have to put this hire on hold” call, or a “this other candidate has just a few more qualities we like” call, or whatever, but on this one I just could not conceive of who they could have come up with as a better candidate in this particular market.  I had talked with every Ocean Carrier rep within 500 miles!  Well, I put my “be professional hat” on and tried to inquire about the decision they had made only to be met with dead silence.  I just could not believe it!

In recruiting you work multiple files (or Reqs as they say in the biz) so when one fails you just move on, but this one, I just could not get out of my head and I remained curious.  I set up a couple searches and it only took a couple weeks before I found out what happened.  A LinkedIn profile pinged up against my search and sure enough I could see who had been awarded the job.  It was someone from out of the area, so they relocated them and also someone with a Retail Sales background.  Yep….I could not have guessed that in a million years and in reviewing the person’s profile, I could not see where they matched up to 90% of the required qualifications.  I could see then why the hiring manager never called me back.

This is just another reminder that recruiting and hiring are not an exact science, and sometimes you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.  If you have never heard of Charles Swindoll’s quote on “Attitude” you should Google it right now and read it.  I have a copy on my office wall, and it helps me get thru difficult situations like this one.

By the way, I checked back about six months later and the person no longer had the position.  You can lead a horse to water…….

At Crabtree & Eller we recruit specifically in Transportation and Logistics and focus on a high level of service in the areas of Ocean Freight, Air Freight, Logistics, Trucking and Rail. If you have hiring needs we can help.