Ask Dem Guarantee Dilemna

Hi Dem,

My client is about to hire a replacement candidate from me at a higher salary than the candidate who left. Should I try and collect the fee difference between the original and the replacement?

The original candidate was hired in February. The client paid about R60 000.00 within 10 days. The candidate was fired around day 55. The client takes part of the blame for making a bad hiring decision. So we gave them a credit towards the next placement. Our replacement candidate is about to get an offer and the fee would be R75 000.00. Am I entitled to push for the additional R15 000.00? If so, how do I word it to the client? The client has been very cooperative and we can probably make 2 or 3 more placements there. It’s a good company to work for. They would also be an excellent client to ask for a testimonial in the spirit of, ‘the recruiter kept her word and replaced...’ What do you think?


As my old manager used to say to me, “Dem, this isn’t worth the gunpowder to blow it up”.

I know you’ve done a lot of work, and I can appreciate the sense of fairness kicking in. Yes, IF there were no previous fall out, and you were NOT working under a replacement situation, YES you would be due an additional fee for that level of candidate.

If. Two tiny letters. But such a huge word.

You need to get into a different mindset. One of gratitude. I do this whenever things don’t go my way. In your case, let me give you a version of my mom’s, “Do you know how many starving kids in the world would be grateful to have that chicken pie?

“Do any of them know,” I would respond, “how grateful I’d be if they heated it up to a digestible temperature for me?”

So, do you know...

  • How many clients want a refund even though they signed a replacement guarantee and threaten you with dissolving the relationship if you don’t respond?
  • How many client do not, as you admit they did, accept any responsibility for making a bad hiring decision or for the person not working out, in any way?
  • How many clients tell you to find a replacement and then after you have done so tell you, “Thanks, we found someone on our own”.

Those same clients expect you to carry over the replacement over to the next placement, leaving you with a host of candidates you can do nothing with.

Your client expects you to make good on their replacement guarantee. Naturally. They paid you promptly, allowed you to replace in good faith, and expect to give you 2-3 more hires.

You not only don’t invoice them for the balance, you tell them you are grateful they worked with you on this, since no one can with 100% accuracy predict the unpredictable behaviour of human beings. You find the grace not to remind them of what you could have billed them, and not to point out how upstanding a character you are for looking past the R15K.

Not mentioning it is the grace part.

If this doesn’t sit well, and losing R15K seldom does, let me ask you this…

If they hired a candidate who required significantly less salary, would you be feeling obligated to send some of the fee back?