I’ve noticed a recurring theme in recruitment circles of late. “Frack! I lost another candidate to a counter-offer!”
This reminds me of my early lessons recruiting in the late 90s when the tech market was booming and the war for talent was intense. We’re in a very similar place today and the challenges of signing the perfect candidate are the same. We’ve got multiple offers, counter-offers, and my personal favourite – the Tire Kicker.
If you are a tech company looking for an exceptional leader or contributor, you may think your biggest challenge is getting your name out there and ensuring that people know why you’re SO much better than the rest. Granted, these are critical parts of the recruiting equation. But, getting attention from the right people is only part of the equation. You’ve built enthusiasm into your recruiting pitch and balanced the selling of your opportunities with sound selection and evaluation of fit. This is all good stuff. Now you’re thinking “if I didn’t already run the company, I’d take this job!”
So why is it that, after you’ve invested hours in the courtship process and crafted a masterpiece of an offer, your hot candidate goes cold on you. You ask yourself … Where did this other offer come from? Why does he need to go and talk to his current boss before he decides? Why does she need a week to think about it?
One secret of a successful recruitment outcome is thinking about closing the candidate, from your very first conversation and at every step along the way. You need to begin with the end in mind.
All of your interviews should include these 3 questions:
1. Why would you consider a move now – are you unhappy in your current role?
- The financially motivated candidate may be persuaded to stay with a raise
- If the response is that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with their current job, but this might be ‘better’, you need to understand this reality. You may be dealing with a Tire Kicker.
- At the very least, understand what ‘better’ needs to look like; and whether or not you can offer it.
2. What is happening in your current job – Are there things that could change and make you want to stay?
- It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’re wise to suggest that a candidate go back and ask their current boss to make those changes … before you invest more time with the selection process. In most cases, the desired changes won’t materialize because there’s no compelling event for the boss. But, if the request comes when the employee is ready to resign, the smart boss is more motivated to make a bold counter-offer, complete with salary and role changes. If that conversation has already happened, the candidate will detect the boss’ desperation and motives.
3. What else are you looking at and how do we compare?
- Strong candidates who are active on the job market WILL have other offers. It’s important that you know what else they they are looking at. Understand the competition and what criteria your candidate is using to compare opportunities.
I haven’t lost my last candidate to a counter-offer, and following my best advice won’t ensure that you land every great candidate. Always assume that you are competing for talent and bring your ‘A’ game, every time. Invest time early in getting to know what motivates your prospect, and it’ll pay off now and when you start to think about keeping them happy as your next star employee.