Editor’s Note: This post is by Paul Slezak, Cofounder and CEO of RecruitLoop – the World’s largest marketplace of expert Recruiters and Sourcers available on-demand.
You have finally made an offer to a rockstar candidate only to have them turn around and tell you that they are considering a couple of other offers.
Time to panic, right? After all, if they turn you down, you’ll have to start the process all over again.
To make things even worse, while they compare your opportunity against their other options, your other candidates are accepting jobs elsewhere. If you’re not careful, you’ll be back to square one.
Stop. Don’t panic.
Closing candidates who are considering other offers can be very complicated.
Unfortunately, many job offers are ultimately declined. This may be a direct result of delays or indecision by the hiring manager; providing an offer that isn’t quite attractive enough; or not providing consistency during the hiring process.
While the numbers may be against you, it is possible to turn it around in your favor and secure the person you want for your role – even if they do have other offers on the table.
Here are some tactics to help you close candidates who may be considering other offers. You’ll note that closing the right candidate starts well before you give them the offer.
1. The Golden Rule: ABC
You’ve heard it before. ABC – Always Be Closing. The key to winning the war for the best candidate is to continuously work on closing them right from the outset.
The time to begin working on closing the candidate is not when you’re at offer stage; it’s when you first meet them. If you’re running around looking for a way to sweeten the deal after you’ve already made your offer – sorry, but it’s too late. Unless the candidate has been lying to you, you should have a fair idea of whether they will accept your offer when you make it.
It’s your job to find out during the very first interview what other roles they may have applied for directly; what positions they may have been represented for by a recruiter; or even just any other role they might be considered for within their current company.
2. Shorten the Hiring Cycle
Schedule interviews quickly after advertising or presenting the initial job description. Ask for samples of their work prior to or during the interview so that you can make a good decision in less time. When you are considering multiple candidates, schedule multiple interviews in a single day.
The more time you take to make your decision, the more time the candidate has to explore other opportunities.
3. Listen to What the Candidate Wants
It’s easy to assume you know what will make a candidate interested in the position and ultimately accept it. But do you actually know? How often do you ask questions about what is important to them? When they mentioned that they needed more detail about the benefits package, did you ask what was most important to them or did you simply launch into a list of all your benefits? Listen, listen, listen.
Ask your candidate to create a wish list for their next role. Get them to talk through it right there in front of you and to write it all down.
Ask them to think about everything from what type of manager they want to work for; what hours they want to work; whether they may want any more flexible working arrangements; what additional training they may be expecting etc.
4. Don’t Try to Lowball
Trying to undercut an employee by saving a few dollars on their salary is pathetic. If you want the good employee, pay them what they’re worth.
If you are making these hires for yourself, a rookie mistake is to assume the salary you made the person before them is good enough for the future employee. Salaries are primarily dependent on the market; what else can they get? Remember that last year’s market prices or what you feel the market prices should be are irrelevant. Do some market research to ensure the salary you offer is competitive.
5. Make the Offer Quickly
Make your offer promptly. For example, it’s 5:05pm and you just got word that your client, hiring manager or team definitely wants the employee. Do you leave it until tomorrow? No! Call the candidate now. Give them an evening to mull over your offer so that when they receive your email the next day, confirming that you would appreciate an answer by the end of the business day they won’t feel rushed.
6. Get Details of any Other Offers
If you have already made an offer to a candidate and they mention that they are considering another offer as well, ask them for details about the other offer. Ask for the salary, benefits, work environment, and what they like and dislike about the job opportunity. Ask what their deciding factors are.
Don’t make any new offers at this stage – you simply want to garner as much information as you can. Watch that you’re not grilling them, though. Ask questions simply and respectfully, letting them know you want to understand what the competition is and how your role competes.
7. Create Meaning and Dignity
Often a meaningful job with a lower salary will be chosen over a less meaningful job with a higher salary.
But what makes a job meaningful? Career progression, challenge, and wider impact. Outline how the role can progress through the company (but only if you know it actually can). What challenges will the role be tackling? How does the company as a whole, and that role in particular, make a difference in the world? These are all aspects of the role that will convince a candidate to choose yours over others.
8. Give Them the Royal Treatment
Invite the candidate to lunch and give them another tour of the office they will be working in. Believe it or not, many candidates aren’t even shown their future office or desk before they start! Introduce them to other key people. Show them the great areas for staff relaxation or the noisy production floor where the fantastic products are being created right there on the spot.
Give them a taste of the energy of the place and make them want to be there.
9. Have a Backup Plan
Nothing makes you more confident in a negotiation than a strong backup plan. You know if it all goes awry, things will be okay. This confidence is apparent to the candidate and it subtly weakens their negotiating position. If their other offer is genuinely better and you know you cannot match it, you are empowered to cut off the negotiations and move onto the next person without wasting any time.
Getting a candidate across the line requires nearly as much luck as it does skill. Employing the right skills at the right time, though, may just turn luck’s beneficial eye in your direction when it really counts.