How to keep offers closed: the final step in becoming a top 10% recruiter
The fight for top talent is intense and it will get worse. Interim results from our 2006
Recruiting and Hiring Challenges survey indicate that
the number of offers being turned down is increasing, ad response is
declining along with candidate quality, and turnover is increasing.
In my opinion, without great recruiters implementing best practices
for every search, these problems will not go away. The purpose of
this "On Becoming a Great Recruiter" series is to give recruiters
hands-on tactics to hire great people, one search at a time.
Over the past seven weeks, we've covered the entire recruiting
process from the beginning to almost the end. In Part 2, we
described how to use performance profiles rather than job
descriptions when taking the assignment. In Part 3, we described
what it takes to write and position ads that compel the best
to apply. Part 4 focused on finding top passive talent using tools
like ZoomInfo to identify and network with the best around. In Parts
5 and 6, we described how to conduct a performance-based interview
that was not only simple to use and more accurate than traditional behavioral
interviewing, but it also gave recruiters the information needed to
defend candidates against managers who make superficial assessments.
Part 7 focused on negotiating and closing offers on opportunity
rather than compensation.
This week, we need to make sure that all of your hard work
doesn't fall apart at the last moment by having a candidate renege
after accepting your offer. To minimize this problem, start by
summarizing the big reasons people turn down offers:
They accepted a counteroffer.
They accepted a better offer.
They didn't think your compensation was enough.
They didn't think your job was big enough.
They decided not to relocate.
They didn't have a really clear idea of actual job needs.
They didn't want to leave all of their friends and associates
at their current company.
They started thinking that the hiring manager was weak.
Their friends and advisors convinced them your offer wasn't
They used your offer to get a better offer.
Here are some things you can do to address the reasons listed
above, both before and after you make the offer. If followed, you
can potentially reduce the chance of people backing out at the last
moment by 50 to 75%:
10 Ways to Prevent Offers from Falling Apart
Don't make the offer until all potential reasons for
reneging have been formally addressed. You should never
make an offer formal until every detail has been agreed upon.
Testing offers properly (Part 7) will eliminate at least half of
the potential problems with counteroffers, money concerns, and the
perennial "I have a better offer."
Be the last company to make the person an
offer. If your candidate has other opportunities on the
table, assume yours is being used to get a better offer somewhere
else. To prevent this, you'll need to delay your offer until it's
the last one the candidate receives.
Prepare a side-by-side job comparison. If you
have prepared a performance profile (Part 2 and
more articlesbefore taking the assignment, you'll be able to compare your candidate's current job
with all of the other opportunities he or she might receive,
including yours. Make sure most of the focus of this comparison is
on the key challenges described in the performance profile. Done
properly, your job will stand out since it creates a more
compelling employee value proposition. Caution the candidate
against over-valuing vague promises and generalities.
Get the hiring manager 100% involved. Hiring
managers must take a major role in recruiting the candidate in
partnership with the hiring team. It's less difficult for a
candidate to leave close friends and long-term associates if he
has already experienced some type of personal relationship with
the new group. Why not have the hiring manager call and meet with
your candidate and prepare the job comparison described above?
Make the offer an event, not a transaction.
Make the offer something special. For instance, don't just send a
letter. Have the hiring manager deliver it personally, possibly
with a few key members of the team.
Make the offer about the job, not about the
money. If you can't differentiate your job by describing
its challenges, key growth opportunities, and how important it is
to a major company initiative, all you have left is the money. So
make sure when you take the assignment and prepare a performance
profile that you ask the hiring manager, "Why would a top person
want this job?"
Get the person involved in the job before
starting. Right after the offer has been accepted, have
the hiring manager give the candidate a relevant and important
mini-assignment. This could be something like asking the candidate
to comment on the capital budget for the new project. It will give
the candidate real insight into the job while providing a
convenient way for the hiring manager and the candidate to
dialogue a few times before the candidate actually starts. That
process can help minimize second thoughts.
Conduct a thorough pre-relocation dance.
Turning a job down using a "Can't move" excuse after the offer is
extended/accepted (Part 7 described how to make these concurrent)
is verboten. Relocation involves a number of critical steps. The
most important is that the whole family visits the site, they find
a possible neighborhood to live in, and the kids have met some new
Create friendship-making opportunities during the
selection and recruiting process. It's commonly known
that having a friend at work is an important part of on-the-job
satisfaction. Use this concept to your advantage by creating
opportunities for the candidate to meet with some peers during a
lunch or dinner interview when the discussion is more casual. That
will also give you a glimpse into another side of the candidate's
Visualize the resignation process. Now that
you've eliminated the competition using these steps, you'll need
to ensure the person doesn't take a counteroffer. The most
important part of this is walking the candidate through the
emotional roller-coaster associated with saying goodbye to a group
of people she has worked with for a few years. Make sure the
candidate visualizes the process and rehearses how she'll say
she's not interested in discussing a counter-offer, especially
since she has already signed a letter of acceptance with your
company. If she has reviewed the performance profile in great
detail, she'll also have the confidence to overwhelm her current
boss' lame arguments about why the new job isn't as good as the
one he'll create for her.
Don't ignore the importance of keeping the deal closed. An offer
turned down at the last stage means that the entire process needs to
be redone. This will cost you at least four to six weeks in lost
on-the-job performance, delaying other searches the recruiter can't
handle and increasing frustration on the part of everyone involved.
From what I've seen, few recruiters handle this critical end-game
process well, so spend some extra time here.
This is the final article in our "Becoming a Great Recruiter"
series. If you follow every step as described in every article,
there's no doubt you will become at least 30% to 50% more
productive. The ball is now in your court. You know what to do; now
go do it.
If you're a recruiter, try a few of the techniques described on
just one assignment. As you become proficient, continually try more
of the techniques until they're mastered. You'll soon be performing
at a much higher level. If you're a recruiting manager, start
tracking your team's performance — especially focusing on sendouts
per hire per assignment. This metric captures candidate quality,
time to hire, and client satisfaction. Watch the trends improve as
you train your team in these techniques. Soon, you'll see
improvement throughout the team.
Collectively, this is how to make hiring top talent a systematic
business process. Better, it's how you make sure that everyone is
committed to making hiring top talent #1. And that was the whole
purpose of this series of articles.