Secret Marketer: Moving away from your recruitment strategy can prove risky

Although we made a bold step to hire a new senior marketing manager from outside the company, we probably should have stuck with our ‘building within’ strategy.

This week has been very annoying. Before Christmas, we made the bold step to hire a new senior marketing manager. This was a big decision because for some time we have followed a principle of ‘building from within’, in other words recruiting marketers as graduates and nurturing them over several years to become the marketing leaders of tomorrow.

Although in the main this has held firm, it does take time and exposes you to losing people who you have groomed for greatness but who are seduced by the bright lights of a competitor.

To find our new recruit, we employed a headhunter and undertook several rounds of interviewing before selecting someone. We made her an offer and after a little bit of toing and froing over the salary, we shook hands on a deal and our soon to be senior marketing manager signed her name on the dotted line.

She informed us that her existing employer was adamant that she had to work her full three months’ notice, but she would be ensconced in her new position ready for our new financial year. We ordered her new computer, secured her new work email address, and even tidied her desk. We advised the business, and put off certain tasks until she joined us.

So imagine our chagrin when, literally a week before the start date, she tells us that she has changed her mind. She had a better offer from her existing employer and, having done some due diligence, has heard that my brand does not spend enough on marketing to enhance her career, and that her career development will be down to her proving herself – it won’t be guaranteed. The nerve of her. The headhunter confirmed our offer was financially very fair. I am not aware of a marketer in the country that ever says they have enough money to invest – and with regard to promotion, too bloody right.

The immediate response was to sue her. In sport, once you have signed a contract with a new team, you are beholden to them unless you buy your way out, so what is different here? The reality is that we have been set back three months, and her leaving it to the last minute to tell us she isn’t joining our company is rude, and is a business risk. But it probably shows weakness on her behalf and we are probably better off without her.

Needless to say our risk-averse HR team are of the view that suing her is a pointless exercise. The headhunter is also a bit peeved as he had banked the fees into his year-end numbers. Oh the pitfalls of a people-focused industry.



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