Doing What’s in Your Best Interests at the Cost of Your Personal Integrity

By Stacy Pursell, CPC/CERS
The VET Recruiter®

You may have already guessed from the title of this article that I am going to relay a case study regarding something that I recently encountered in the employment marketplace.

If so, then you are correct. And in a year during which I have experienced some extreme examples of behavior, perhaps more so than any year that I’ve been an executive recruiter, this case study and this story stands out.

They made her an offer she couldn’t refuse . . .

A candidate in the Animal Health industry recently contacted me because she was unhappy with her current position and wanted to look for a new opportunity. While working with her, she called me almost every day of the interview process with one of my clients to tell me how much she really wanted the position and to ask about the status of the process. As it turns out, my client eventually made an offer of employment to her. It was a good offer with a starting salary that represented more money than she was currently making.

A few months prior, this candidate had received an offer from another employer, one that she turned down. The starting salary that accompanied that offer happened to be slightly higher than the starting salary that my client was offering. So the candidate asked if my client would be willing to match the salary of the previous offer, even though she had already rejected that offer. So I contacted my client and apprised them of the situation. After several days, during which officials at my client researched ways in which to come up with the extra money in their budget, my client agreed to match the offer.

I called the candidate and told her the good news. Upon hearing it, she was both thankful and appreciative. Everything was set. The candidate had accepted the offer, and she was scheduled to start on a specific day. Except . . .

The candidate called me the day before the day she was supposed to start work at my client to inform me that she would not be starting work.

The reason? She had accepted a position with another organization.

Keep in mind that I had no idea that was interviewing with another employer. I knew that she had turned down a previous offer because she had told me about that. It was the basis of her request to have my client match that offer. The candidate told me that another organization offered her a position within days of her start date at my client’s organization. She said she told them she had accepted another position, but this other organization just kept “coming and coming” at her and that their offer was more than she could say “No” to. As you might imagine, I had a few questions for this candidate.

I asked her why she had not informed me that she was interviewing with other employers. I asked her why she was accepting this offer after giving her word to my client. (After they had found a way to come up with extra money for her, I might add.) Once again, the candidate appeared to hoist the blame on the organization that made her an offer that she apparently could not refuse. Then she apologized and hung up the phone.

No amount of money is worth your integrity

As you might imagine, my client was very disappointed. They reiterated that the candidate had given her word of honor and signed an offer letter. Not only that, but she never once informed anyone—either myself or anyone at my client—that she was still interviewing with other employers.

And here’s the real kicker: if the candidate had informed me and my client that she was still interviewing with other organizations and needed more time before she made a final decision, my client would have been okay with that. They would not have rushed her or told her that she had to make a decision on their offer immediately. They would have given her time to consider her options carefully and then make the decision that was best for her. In such a situation, she would have been able to do what was in her best interests and not sacrifice her personal integrity at the same time.

Alas, that is not what happened. Instead, she did was she thought was in her best interests, but she did sacrifice her integrity.

What happened is made all the worse by the fact that the candidate had accepted a leadership position with my client. She was to be leading a team of people in her new role. So not only were the senior leadership at the organization expecting her to show up on the day she was supposed to start work, but so were the members of the team she was going to manage. Ultimately, the hiring officials at my client concluded that she was not a person of high integrity and that she acted in a very unprofessional way when she did not have to. Once again, my client would have understood if she was still interviewing with other employers and needed more time.

In the final analysis, this candidate “burned bridges” that she did not have burn. She burned them both with my client and potentially with any other organization with which hiring officials at my client speak. And of course, she “burned bridges” with me. How can I work with her again after the way in which she conducted herself with a lack of transparency?

No amount of money is worth your personal integrity. And that’s especially the case when you don’t have to sacrifice any of your integrity in order to get what you want. This case study is an unfortunate incident and serves to illustrate how a lack of foresight due to tunnel vision and short-sighted focus on immediate gratification can cause damage to your reputation and possibly to your long-term prospects for professional success.

If you’re looking to make a change or explore your employment options, then we want to talk with you. I encourage you to contact us or you can also create a profile and/or submit your resume for consideration.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.