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GUEST COMMENT: A major investment bank made me a job offer and then ignored my calls

I’ve been looking for a new job for a while, so imagine my delight when one of the recruiters I work with said he had a corporate strategy role at a large bank which I might be interested in.

I attended a first round of interviews with a very pleasant, but recently appointed senior employee who was still on his probationary period. He’d previously been a partner in a well known management consultancy, and I was familiar with him from that time, so the interview went well.

The second round of interviews took place shortly afterwards. In this case, I was interviewed by two mid-ranking staff from the strategy team. It was all standard stuff: they ran through my CV and the projects I’ve been working on. At the end of it, I was asked to make a short pre-prepared presentation about my ideas for improving the direction of the business. This seemed to be well received.

Three weeks passed and then the headhunter called to say that I was in: the bank wanted me. I spoke to my future boss on the telephone and we met for dinner. And then I waited for the contract. And waited. And waited. It didn’t turn up.

Understandably concerned, I participated in a conference call with the headhunter and my ‘future boss’ and was told the contract would arrive soon. It didn’t. Then I was told HR had it. Two deadlines passed and then the bank and the recruiter stopped answering my calls.

That was nine months ago. Needless to say, I have concluded that the contract isn’t coming and looking for a different role, so far without success.

Comments (49)

Comments
  1. Which country are you in ?

  2. Was this in the UK? I won’t even consider the UK these days exactly because of such primitive behaviour from most potential employers.

  3. Never assume you have the job until the contract is signed, sealed and delivered. Especially in economic times such as these. I learnt that a long time ago my friend.

  4. Why dont you name the Recruiter and Institution?

  5. UK = unethical and unfair employers. Like a third-world country.

  6. Please name and shame I say for the better of society.

  7. Unfortunately we see this from Banks more often than you’d believe. It’s simply down to individual teams running processes, believing they will get headcount approved just because they’ve got so far through the process.

    What normally happens is that the manager/MD/partner will go to HR and pitch the hire after making said candidate the offer. This is because they know they definitely won’t get the sign off if they ask in advance. So . . . risky as it is, they stand more chance this way round as they hope they can go ‘but I’ve made the offer, we can’t turn around now’.

    Big banks are always going to be a nightmare as everyone at the top thinks they can do what they like in terms of hiring. When they realise they can’t, they just disapear as the one thing you will never hear from them is an admission that they were wrong. . .

    I’ve seen everyone from Associates to MD’s fall foul of this and yet the ones hiring never seem to learn. Chances are if you’ve not met with someone from HR or at least had some contact with them through the interview process, the contract at the end will be very difficult to get your hands on.

  8. Why the discretion? Names, please.

  9. This happens in rubbish countries only.

  10. Did they send any offer details via email, even without the official contract? If so, check with a good solicitor if the emails are detailed enough to constitute a contract in the eyes of a tribunal. Taking it to tribunal could at least get you some compensation.

  11. Names please

  12. if the headhunter won’t answer your calls …… Go and visit him, look him straight in the eye and ask what’s going on.

  13. Very bad form. Something similar happened to me recently with a large, bulge bracket bank where sign off for the hire didn’t come through. Sometimes I think they need to line someone up ahead of final sign-off. Very naughty though, naming and shaming is your only recourse and you’ve nothing to lose by it now

  14. Too bad you didn’t wear a recording device in your pocket and get the scoundrel “on tape”.

  15. What are their core values ? mutual respect ?
    Thank you for your testimonial and engaging the conversation

  16. Headhunters = snakes

  17. Had the same experience last year. Went through three rounds of interviews including very senior management and HR who ran me through their company benefit scheme etc… From that experience I learnt that till you sign you have nothing.

  18. In a democratic society such as this one we ought to be able to see who to avoid. A name would be welcome. Please post it.

  19. I had the same experience in a glamour multy family office in the best London.

  20. Unfortunately this is happening more and more and it is disgusting behaviour on behalf of the employer.
    They do not seem to realise that our market is small and the people they let down can easily become future clients etc.
    Extremely short-sighted indeed!

  21. Banks should not even be looking unless they have sign-off for the role and they have exhausted all the internal talent pool first.

    It is just poor form.

  22. is a verbal commitment an effective legal obligation? can you sue them if they don’t honour their verbal commitment?

  23. i have been looking for more than 3 months had more than 3 interviews most of the time without any feedback yet again i have another interview tomorow with S&P just hope this will be different

  24. the same happened with me, but we should understand the economy. Approvals from senior management are refused due to financial crisis. Instead of sending some one away from the bank, they would assign new roles to these people. The insecurity to be sent out of the bank is high when compared to stoping offering the role at the final stage.

  25. You deserve a pay-out of at least the amount equal to your initial notice period.
    Hire a good lawyer and even if the bank says no at first – after a few legal letters and an application under the Data Protection Act (all in all will cost about 400 GBP in fees) to access their internal communications about you – believe me you will get soem compensation! AND get your lawyer to make the bank pay his costs too.

    They should learn a lesson from this and I hope you did not pay for the dinner with that would-be/could-be boss guy!

    Cassey Foreman Reply
     
  26. ah ah ah ah , oops sorry but this is funny actually !
    how can you wait for a job for 9 months ? if they don t call you back don t call again, forget about those losers !

  27. Typical happend to me long back with J.P Morgan UK
    I would never go back to them

  28. This is a made up story! Why would you wait for 9 months? And why he is not naming the parties involved?

  29. fluffy to the point of being non-existent – sounds like a strategy role to me!

  30. Why would you wait for 9 months? Surely, the silent treatment should make you aware that they are no longer interested. I still can’t believe someone will wait for almost a year to be contacted. I don’t want to sound heartless, but how thick are you? This sort of situation is frequently happening now, so not an unusual story.

  31. Same thing happened to me at UBS, boy am I glad I didn’t get that contract! :)

    headhunters_r_scum Reply
     
  32. Names those b@stards

  33. Alek,
    I don’t think this is a made up story, I’ve heard this happening before, unfortunately. I’d appreciate if the names (bank / recruiter) were mentioned.

    The worst agencies I’ve ever dealt with are all based in London, just a complete bunch of useless morons – both when I was looking for a job and then when I’ve been other side of the table. In other European countries these guys would find themselves being job seekers.

  34. It seems you too are guilty………………… the bank that wronged you are probably doing the same to others ………………. Please take the moral high ground and name them…………………… Sleep well

  35. As rightly quoted by colleagues do state the Bank secondly if this is Verbal there is no locus standi .. an Intent of Offer or Offer letter even an electronic copy is a good stand point for you as most of the professionals consider this as a confirmation for commencing resignation formalities from their current organisations,, The Market dynamics and business strategies can put positions on hold so the Offer letter is really the one which can confirm you were considered to be in or not….

  36. I believe the interviewer was on probation and did not probably make it to confirmation. He might as well not be in a position to hire as stated above. Always try to keep HR in the loop.

  37. Olly,

    Thanks for the posting, I’m pretty sure you are guessing correctly. I had similar happen to me with Barcap regarding buying out my bonus a few years back. They all promised they would, then when the contract was due to be issued, they realised they couldn’t.

    Then again, the recruiter did have the guts to say so.

  38. This happens in France too. Same experience with Natixis in 2008.

  39. Sounds very familiar but to be honest in today’s economy crap like this happen time and time again. I went to an interview back in Feb, then got called back in earlty Sept only to be told that the job is now on hold.

    Don’t apply logic just reality.

  40. @ Been there

    That’s the key. The banks don’t necessarily mean to be a$$holes about this, they just try and engineer a situation where they can hire, but the door often gets shut.

    The least that can happen is that a headhunter can be honest enough to explain the situation. Too often it’s because they don’t understand themselves what’s happened and just panic.

    There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing what’s going on. Banks are terrible culprits and unfortunately a lot of headhunters just follow suit.

    There is never an excuse for not returning a call – unfortunately the banks play by their own rules.

  41. I’m still waiting for my offer letter from Bear. It was sent to me back in 2002 lol

  42. Name and shame.

    This is a breach of an oral contract and you should pursue legal remedy, some home and contents insurance these days have employment law cover – call your insurer.

    This is appallingly unprofessional behaviour, although it looks like the hiring manager probably got it out of shape.

    When hiring, HR are merely enablers and should be managed in that way.

    However, I suspect the actual bank HR knew nothing about this.

    I’m willing to bet you fell foul of an RPO or PSL. Your recruiter was not on the Preferred Suppliers List (PSL) so you got binned. You were probably binned by a rival recruiter operating a Recruitment Process Outsourced (RPO) INSIDE the bank. The actual bank HR probably still know nothing about it.

    You were binned, although the hiring manager thought you were the right person for the job, because you were not going to make enough profit for the Headhunters working for the bank – an external third party.

    Perhaps the RPO employee cited the service level agreement or maybe just binned you unilaterally without consulting HR. If so, that third party recruiter has incurred legal risk for the bank, no wonder they are hoping you won’t raise a fu

  43. So ….. to all those poster out there shooting at the “Banks”, perhaps it was not a bank employee that shredded the CV, so it’s not the Banks being idiots, it’s recruiters protecting their profits.

    To all the hiring managers out there – DO find out who in HR is really an employee of the bank and who is part of the RPO pushing their own agenda on you.

    If you ever suspect that you are not seeing the best candidates – this is perhaps a reason.

  44. This is an interesting and becoming familiar tale. We had a similiar situation where our candidate was offered a job however the agency fees were not signed off. We were given a choice, either wave the fee and the chap starts his new, dream job or block it and not let the guy go and stay festering where he was. So with the fee down the drain, the chap started his new job and clearly we did not get paid. Still no sign of lunch promised from hiring manager or candidate. We were a full Preferred Supplier and acted in good faith….

    notallagenciesarescum Reply
     
  45. its a shame this is happening. How so unprofessional!

  46. “I was asked to make a short pre-prepared presentation about my ideas for improving the direction of the business. This seemed to be well received. ”

    Probably so well received they stole your ideas…

  47. Move on sucker! they obviously have ….with your ideas…

  48. BTw is there a difference between an “oral” contract and a “verbal” one? Do I have a really dirty mind or is it all the same in France as long as the maid doesn’t call the police?

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