It’s Not Over ‘Til it’s Over; Helping Candidates Quit

Resigned to Resign

The moment of truth is often not when the candidate accepts your offer, but when they actually go to resign.

 As recruiters’, we often pat ourselves on the back when a candidate accepts a job offer and agrees to make the leap to a new company. However, any recruiter who has been around the block a few times knows that there remains the slim, but all too possible chance that the ‘perfect fit’ might be lured back to his or her old team. (Oh, the audacity!) Therefore, our job isn’t done until that recruit –that employee-yet-to-be- actually shows up for his or her first day of work.

The dynamics of change… have changed.

Since the economy has maintained an ‘employer’s market’ for so long, you might think that companies would make resignations smooth and hassle-free. As usual, reality is more complicated.

Because many employees have been doing more work with less pay, they’re attentively awaiting the chance to jump ship. Consequently, some companies are suffering uncomfortable employee losses, and are reacting with more aggressive efforts to retain top talent intent on resigning. As with most reactions, this is an inefficient response; if retention were truly a goal, it would not have become an issue. Questions of efficiency aside, reactive retention efforts can work if the resigning employee is surprised by a sudden showering of positive attention.  (Never mind that most of these starry-eyed folks end up leaving the company within a year, anyway.)

Relaxing before the recruitment race is truly over exposes you to unnecessary risk of failure. Aside from the time and energy wasted on an unsuccessful recruitment, current staff –already busy with their own responsibilities- may be covering the vacant position, and expecting a new hire to pick up the slack soon. To mitigate the risk of losing the top candidate at the moment of truth, recruiters should help him or her prepare to give notice.

Bolstering the resolution to resign.

  • Let recruits know that resignation can be harder than they expect, but without making the whole event seem more dramatic than it needs to be.
  • Be a resource for them by offering 3rd party information on resigning.
  • If needed, offer to help them develop 2-3 concise talking points.
  • Assure them that they will be fine if they just stick to their ‘script.’
  • Tactfully reinforce their main motivations for making a move without being too pushy or negative about their current company.
  • Reiterate why you’re excited about them joining your company.

With a little extra encouragement and preparation, candidates can have a happy ending, and a fresh start.  The best result is the most anticlimactic: the candidate leaves on good terms, cuts ties cleanly, and moves into the new position without any baggage.  Preparing for the counter-offer mitigates a considerable risk for the hiring manager, improves the likelihood of a successful switch, and boosts your chances of earning that aforementioned caloric sin.