Just about THE most extraordinary event in my recruiting career happened recently: here it is.

A client was looking for a head of HR; the previous one had left suddenly and they were in a hurry.  A candidate came to mind; he seemed ideal – around 50 years old, solid background in HR and was then looking for work.  We spoke, he was interested, and I presented his resume.  Bottom line, they offered him the job and he accepted, with a start date about two weeks out.  There was some back and forth on conditions – he was relocating and needed a couple of extra perks.  All done: contract signed on Wednesday; start on Monday.

He soon updated his LinkedIn profile announcing his new position (he loves LinkedIn and is an avid user with many followers) and even started recruiting for his new employer.  I called a couple of times on the Thursday and Friday and sent messages but I wasn’t alarmed when I didn’t get responses: he was packing up his life and moving to another city – I knew he was busy.

Early on Monday the client called me: where’s the candidate?  He hadn’t showed up, he hadn’t taken the flight or checked into his hotel.  Odd, perhaps something awful happened, so I try to find him.  His mobile wasn’t connecting; that’s ok, I can send a message on LinkedIn.  But I can’t find his profile any more – he blocked me.  It’s simple to ask a colleague to check, and we see that he has updated his profile to Head of HR somewhere else.  That’s odd.  My colleagues started to dig into things and we find that he really has started working at another company.  An irony is that he had previously mentioned that company to me as a potential client.

I waited a few days wondering if he was going to contact me: nothing.  So another source helped me get his work email address and I emailed him at both work and personal emails.  In return, I received a tirade from him, accusing me of threatening and blackmailing him – not what I expected (nor the slightest bit true).  He even copied his new boss.  I thought about it for a day or two, then answered calmly stating the facts and said that he needn’t bother replying.  He didn’t.

A month later he sends me an email – with an apology – saying that he had heard something truly dreadful about my client and felt that he couldn’t possibly work there.  So he decided to say nothing and just not show up.  But the information turned out to be wrong; he wrote to apologise – we should be happy about that, I guess.  After everything that happened, I can’t help but think that we had a lucky escape – someone so volatile and unpredictable is a real liability.  Anyway, he has to live his life and, after all that, it has probably worked out for the best for my client.

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.

Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via woollacott@hortoninternational.com