Offer Stage Roulette: Getting Top Talent to Accept

As you would expect, the most desirable candidates are typically the hardest to land. Achieving a stellar track record of “offer acceptance” requires market knowledge, proactive communication, and attention to detail. As you might expect, potential employers must understand the candidate’s motivations, concerns, and challenges.

Top recruiters are tuned into the candidate from first contact and with every touch point in the process. It may be okay if a candidate’s interest is weak in the beginning of the process, but it should be building over time. Within the process, there are certain milestones where candidates should be prompted to do “gut checks” and even encouraged to withdraw candidacy if they are not likely to follow through in the end.

A lot of time and energy is invested by the time it gets to the offer stage, so here are some tips for improving your chances of success:

1. Do not assume strong interest

I have heard numerous stories of companies delaying a hiring process for months waiting for a candidate to fall in love and commit to an opportunity when they should have cut bait and moved on. It is incumbent upon the search consultant and the company to “hook” candidates with compelling reasons why the opportunity is unbeatable. It is common for the level of interest and associated variables to change as new information becomes available so it is important to qualify the candidate’s level of interest throughout the process.

2. Get a read on motivations

The best search consultants will quickly look for alignment candidate motivations by establishing trust and asking the right questions. Some examples include: listening carefully to the nuances of why the candidate is interested in making a move, evaluating the sense of urgency to leave, and understanding what they like and do not like about their current job. Beware of candidates whose primary motivation is to move to your location as they may not really be interested in your opportunity. It is important to look for a good balance of motivations and that they remain consistent throughout the process.

3. Get to the bottom line

Candidates will respond if you ask the questions tactfully and in an effort to ensure that you can meet their needs with a competitive offer. Likewise, it is important for the candidate to determine whether the company can offer a salary in their ball park. In addition to base salary, some candidates place importance on benefits or, in other instances, the relocation package really matters. While some candidates may say that salary is not as important, they can ultimately become dissatisfied with their salary after a few months in the job if it is significantly lower than what they were making previously.

4. Watch out for salary creep

It is common for candidate salary expectations to creep up when they realize that a company is seriously interested. Reinforcing the salary range and re-assessing the level of interest in every conversation can help to mitigate unrealistic expectations from creeping up on you at the time of the offer. If you see signs of salary creep, you can test a candidate’s level of interest by politely taking the opportunity away to see if they adjust their expectations back to the original salary level communicated.

5. Maintain momentum in the offer stage

Once you know that you want to make an offer do not lose momentum. If you wait too long to make the offer, the candidate may perceive a lack of interest and can go into “self preservation” mode. This can result in loss of the emotional connection with high potential finalists convincing themselves that they did not want the opportunity in the first place. It is much harder to land candidates who lose their emotional connection to the opportunity.

6. Don’t low-ball the offer

If you set the right expectations from the start and maintain consistency, then you can put your best foot forward and reduce the amount of negotiation needed to land the candidate. Low-balling a candidate immediately undermines credibility and does not reflect well on the organization. It can place doubts in the mind of the candidate and often derails the whole process.

At the end of the day, companies and candidates are part of a market economy. Scarcity of talent, employment brand reputation, cost of living, and lifestyle decisions all dictate what companies need to pay attention to in order to attract top talent. Recruiting is one of the least efficient and most costly processes in an organization, so getting top candidates to accept your offers can save your company time and money in the long run. Paying attention to all the details assures that getting top candidates to say “Yes!” won’t be left to chance

Roy Notowitz

Roy is the Founder and President of Noto Group. Over the past 20 years, Roy has been a trusted talent acquisition adviser to hundreds of leading consumer products, technology, and non-profit organizations nationwide. Roy was a recipient of the Sporting Goods Business SGB 40 Under 40 industry award. He has written for, and addressed, groups such as the American Marketing Association, American Electronics Association, Gear Trends, and the Outdoor Industry Association on topics that include talent alignment, hiring trends, executive recruiting, interviewing and selection.

In 2019, Roy launched How I Hire, a podcast that taps into the best executive hiring advice and insights through conversations with top industry leaders.

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