A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to use a very valuable lesson in hiring I’ve learned while working with a thoughtful candidate and an eager client ready to extend a job offer.
The financial services company came to Talentfoot looking to hire a Vice President of Marketing. We launched a search and eventually landed on a candidate the organization loved. My client was eager to extend an offer because they needed the job filled yesterday.
It should be easy, right? The company likes the candidate and the candidate likes the company.
Not so fast.
In this market, getting an accepted offer is trickier to achieve than you might think. In September, the US quit rate was 2.1%. Americans are still wary of accepting a new position in the middle of a pandemic and recession.
Aside from those outside factors, candidates do not jump into a new job without careful consideration.
At the beginning of my career, I might have suggested the company extend an offer to the VP candidate right away to avoid losing her to the competition. However, I’ve learned it is important to proceed cautiously. We need to ensure the candidate truly wants this job, not just a job offer, and that the candidate is equally excited about us as we are about her.
This is what to do.
Step One: Revisit other suitors or time sensitivities
At the beginning of any interview process, it’s important to ask the candidate if there are any time sensitivities. We are not putting all of our eggs in one basket, nor is the candidate. Remember that it is equally important for the candidate to compare and contrast opportunities as it is for the hiring manager. I ensure the candidate feels comfortable sharing these details with me because I want to ensure the right long-term fit on both sides.
Step Two: Counsel at offer stage
When a candidate says they are still pursuing other options, do not send an offer letter, even if you have completed your interview process. Find out why they are still looking and their motivations.
In my example, the candidate ideally wanted to work for a technology company and not a financial services company, which we were representing, as she had an affinity for that particular technology. The company wanted to extend an offer right away in hopes of beating the other employer to it.
Step Three: Determine Readiness
It’s important to determine whether the candidate is ready to make a decision on an offer.
In my case, the candidate may have been ready to see an offer; however like most, she wanted to see the other opportunity through before making a decision. Hold on extending your offer to avoid stalling questions and delays to buy time.
Instead, find out what else they need to be able to make a decision. That may be seeing the other opportunity through, and/or it may be additional meetings or follow-up conversations with your hiring team.
You may need to proactively schedule more meetings between the candidate and your people. These meetings are not interviews. Call them “check-ins.” If you are able, set up in-person coffee meetings simply to chat about the job, industry, and build a rapport between your business and your candidate.
The goal of this meeting is relationship building.
Step Four: Revisit career motives
I knew from my first conversation with this candidate that she was originally open to exploring new opportunities because she wanted strong leadership and management training. She also wanted the flexibility to shift her hours twice a week to leave early and attend her daughter’s volleyball games. I knew the company I was representing could offer her that in spades.
Step Five: Counsel at offer stage
Revisit these important aspects with your candidate and remind her why she was seeking new opportunities in the first place. Work with your hiring team to schedule additional conversations with people on the team who can address these topics.
Connect the candidate with somebody who leaves work at 4 pm to attend her son’s baseball games or connect her with someone recently promoted under the strong leadership at the company.
Step Six: Are you ready to say yes?
After the Vice President of Marketing had two weeks to complete her interviews with the other company and simultaneously have candidate conversations with various members of the financial services company, I called her to discuss.
She realized that while the technology company had an incredible product, she was not going to receive the mentorship and fairness she was seeking in strong leadership. This, along with the flexible work environment the financial services company offered, was what she was truly wanted.
The candidate needed to go through the entire process with both companies to get to this point of feeling confident in her decision.
“Are you ready to receive an offer and say yes to joining this company?” I asked a straightforward question expecting a straightforward response — and I got it. The candidate said yes.
Step Seven: It’s time to make an offer
Use what you learned throughout this process to present the strongest offer possible.
Write an offer that is tailored to the person with whom you built rapport. Include the monetary and non-monetary benefits the candidate requested. This should be no surprise to the hiring team due to the transparency on this topic from the beginning.
Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. How would you want a job offer presented to you? Give your candidate the experience that would exceed your expectations.
When we finally presented the VP of Marketing candidate with the offer, she was thrilled. If we would have rushed into it, she would not have accepted on the spot and we would have lost the opportunity to showcase further what truly mattered to the candidate.
It was a bit of a dance, but in the end, it was a win-win situation for the candidate and client.
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