Talent Acquisition

How to Avoid Candidates Dropping Out or Accepting Counter Offers

A start-up’s survival is directly tied to hiring better candidates than its competitors.

As top talent is a highly perishable resource, this is to help anyone who has had that sinking feeling when a great candidate tells them they have changed their mind.

Or even worse; gone to a competitor.

To avoid losing candidates through the hiring process:

  1. Actively talk to prospective candidates throughout the year, even if you don’t have any vacancies. The very best talent doesn’t often have to job hunt, but if they do, it’s unlikely they are looking at exactly the same time you have a position to fill.
  2. Really understand the need that you want the ideal candidate to solve. Knowing this will avoid great candidates slipping by.
  3. Write a really clear job description. It will stop a candidate search going off course because the hiring manager has not specified clearly enough the skills needed for the position.
  4. Use your personal networks as much as possible. If you are finding candidates through sources that everyone else has access to (e.g. internet ads) you will always lose a high percentage.
  5. Be passionate about your business. If you aren’t enthusiastic, you can’t expect a stranger to the business to be.
  6. Keep things moving. After receiving CV’s arrange first interview dates quickly, give feedback to candidates quickly, arrange second interviews quickly after the first. As each day goes by more and more of the best candidates are accepting other offers and lost.
  7. Find out about any other opportunities a candidate is exploring, and where they are in other interview processes. They are often open to this as they know it can “increase their value” to your company, and you’ll know what you’re up against.
  8. Don’t make cheeky, low offers to candidates. You can test the water, but anything too low can be offensive and will put them off (especially if they have high expectations).
  9. Outsource portions of your hiring process. A Recruitment Process Outsourcing company or a Recruitment Agency can speed up your hiring process, by doing the candidate selection, screening, and on boarding process for you. They will cost money but save both time and administrative costs.

To avoid your candidates getting counter offers:

  1. Find out at interview the real reasons driving and motivating a candidate to talk to you. You can remind them of these reasons throughout the process when you need to. If it’s monetary, it’s likely they will accept a counter offer.
  2. Try and find out what motivates head-hunted candidates to consider a move also. This can be tricky, but usually involves a change of direction, a wider leadership remit or a promotion. Increased salary shouldn’t be a big driver for them.
  3. Talk to a candidate early on about the possibility of them being counter offered, and how it might happen. If it does, the candidate will be able to say “they told me this could happen” and any flattery they feel will have been dented.
  4. Make paperwork turnaround a priority. Send the offer letter the same day as the verbal offer if possible. The time between verbal offer/acceptance and dispatch of paperwork is often a danger zone, as candidates can receive other offers, change their mind and secure counter offers.
  5. Find out what the candidates company normally does when people resign. You will then be able to better help them through any temptation they might have.
  6. Tell the candidate to call you straight after the resignation meeting. Hearing a supportive voice, after what will be an unpleasant meeting, from the place they see their future will help keep their head in the right place.
  7. Use share options as a final negotiation tool.
  8. Keep up communication especially post offer stage. Regular emails and calls to keep a candidate up to speed with new initiatives, to ask their advice, or just to say ‘hello’, help keep them focussed during the notice period. A lunch organised before the start date further reinforces your investment in them and their investment in their future.

Ashleigh Macfarlane is Marketing Manager at BlueGlue, a specialised recruitment department for growing start-up and SME Tech, Digital and Media Businesses. For more of the above, follow us on Twitter @blueglueltd.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Related: Why Do Recruiters Ask Such Crazy Questions?

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