Concluding Your Hiring Workflow: Closing the Deal
Today’s print production entails multiple workflows, as Frank Romano apprised us in his recent WTT article “Print is a Workflow of Workflows.” Another workflow we might add to his list is the recruitment-hiring-orientation process. And because achieving a successful outcome for this process hinges greatly on the final job offer and candidate’s acceptance, this article is devoted to these two all-important steps. In fact, the rule of conduct is that you need to keep both the offer and the candidate’s likelihood of acceptance in mind throughout your entire hiring process.
One precept behind this strategy is that reasons can arise for the candidate to pull back at any stage of the hiring process - even after the candidate has actually accepted your position. Such reasons include:
- Another offer of employment.
- Cold feet and/or fear of the unknown. Candidates reassess their current situation and decide either it isn’t that bad or it is sufficiently secure that the new opportunity isn’t worth the risk.
- Candidates’ current employer offers a raise, promotion, or other enticement to tempt the candidate to stay.
- Candidates develop a family situation that precludes the candidate from accepting a new opportunity.
- After review, candidates reject the implications of moving geographically to accept a new job. Or they succumb to anxiety over what will happen if they decide to relocate, then the position doesn’t work out.
Even in cases where candidates are not actively employed, you can’t count on their accepting your offer. If their financial situation allows, such job seekers will often weigh the advantages of a period of unemployment versus accepting a job just to have one. And even if they do accept, they will likely retain your job only temporarily--when what you really want is to secure a committed employee with dedication and long-term intent. So every scenario without exception warrants that you assess a top candidate’s likelihood of accepting your offer before you make it.
Keep testing the waters
We do our utmost as a third-party supplier to assist our clients by eliciting candidates’ feelings about both the position and the company during each stage of the hiring process. Similarly, we do our best to ascertain if candidates are looking at other situations—but such investigations aren’t always foolproof. Sometimes candidates won’t reveal that they are wooing other employers. Rare ones will actually wait to receive a formal job offer, then use it to wangle a counteroffer elsewhere. Even for the majority of candidates who are operating in good faith, a competing offer that the candidate can’t refuse can suddenly materialize out of the blue.
Hence the necessity of constantly staying alert to candidates’ changes of heart or circumstances. Throughout the hiring process, you must do your best to confirm key candidates’ continued interest in your position. Keep questioning them diplomatically about what's happening at their current job and whether they are entertaining any other offers. Also, as you get closer to making an offer, encourage them to communicate their reservations about your position to give you the opportunity, if possible, to resolve their concerns. Try to stage such exchanges with candidates in as open and unpressured a manner as possible, since the results are critical to decision-making on both sides.
Keep things moving
As a condition for maintaining candidates' interest in your position, keep the hiring process moving along. Otherwise, choice candidates could develop concerns about the difficulties of signing on with a company that demonstrates a lack of follow-through. They may wonder, for example, what might happen to them if, in order to implement a critical initiative, they first needed a pivotal decision from the company.
Even if (as often happens) legitimate reasons exist for hiring delays, it is important to communicate them. Or, if you can't reveal the reason for the delay, at least keep in touch with candidates to maintain both your credibility and the candidates' confidence. When using the services of professional recruiters like PrintLink, remember to keep the recruiters informed of such delays as well, and enlist their expertise in relaying any delicate communications to candidates tactfully.
Understand candidates' individual motivation
An understanding of candidates' personal motivations is highly useful in helping you assess and promote their likelihood of accepting your job offer.
On the one hand, candidates may be motivated by a “going-away” strategy--especially those wanting to leave a bad job situation. Alternatively, “going-away” strategies arise as reactions to personal circumstances, such as a spouse’s relocation, the need to care for sick family members, or a partner’s decision to stay home with children. Because candidates with “going-away” strategies already have compelling reasons to change jobs or limited options, they may accept an equitable offer more readily than candidates with a “going-forward” strategy.
On the other hand, candidates with a “going-toward” strategy are primarily seeking advancement. Because they may already have a solid job or other attractive opportunities, getting them to accept your job offer may be more challenging. In such cases, it helps to understand what they consider individually to be a move forward and then continually to “sell” your opportunity to them as a viable and compelling career choice. In this regard, PrintLink can provide invaluable assistance to employers , since part of our role is to emphasize continually to candidates why the job and company we have recommended to them constitutes a good fit.
In reality, the motivation for job change of most candidates is a combination of “going away” and “going-toward” strategies. This split is especially prevalent in printing, since ours is an industry where, in order to move up professionally, sometimes you have to move on. Watch, however, whether candidates’ “going-away” reasons fit logically with their “going-toward” reasons. Inconsistencies may suggest they are harboring undisclosed drives—ones that are probably too complex for us even to begin discussing in this article!
Understand what attracts top candidates
The reasons why top candidates accept one position over another are as varied as the candidates’ personalities; but for the most part they fall into the following five categories identified by recruiting expert Lou Adler. Use them to tailor both your recruitment strategy and job offer to appeal to a first-rate candidate:
- The quality of the job, both short-term and long-term. According to Adler, “Top people take jobs primarily to meet their needs for growth, challenge, and learning.”
- The quality of the hiring manager.
- The quality of the team. To summarize points 2 and 3: top people tend to align themselves with other top people.
- The quality of the company, especially the relationship of the job to the company’s plans for growth.
- The compensation package.
Communicate the offer verbally first
Often hiring managers disclose the details of the offer to us first, indicating that a formal written offer will follow once we have secured the candidate’s verbal intent to accept. One benefit of this protocol is to confirm a potential start date so it can be included in the offer letter. Another is to allow both parties a further opportunity to fine-tune any unresolved issues outstanding between them. We assist as mediators, fielding any questions or concerns for both sides and expediting negotiations to create a mutually satisfying agreement.
After the verbal offer provide a full written offer
Components of an offer package can include some of all of the following:
- Letter of offer
- Confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreement
- Form authorizing verifications such as criminal record check or credit check, if required
- Company benefits information
- Employee handbook
Some of the above components can only be provided once an individual has formally accepted the position, because they are proprietary to the company. However, in some cases we feel flexibility is required in the timing of communicating certain details. For example, if the employee is unaware of the full details of the company’s benefits package when signing the letter of offer, some unexpected minor clause may later become a bone of contention or even a deal breaker.
Have a Plan B
Even if you do your best to confirm candidates’ intentions throughout the hiring process, when it comes right down to signing the letter of agreement, sometimes they still walk away. Therefore, should this happen, your hiring strategy needs to incorporate a Plan B. It can either entail offering your first choice further enticements (either as opportunities or fiscal rewards) or else switching to another candidate.
At the end of the day, for mutual acceptance of the final offer, both the employer and the candidate need to recognize a distinct advantage. So right from the beginning, structure your entire hiring workflow with this fact in mindin order to achieve a successful outcome.