March 16, 2015 admin

Managing the Risk of Competing Offers

When you are out to hire the best talent there are several issues. One is that most of them are working – which means you – or your recruiting-firm partner – will have to headhunt. The second, is that you’re unlikely to be the only one speaking with the them. The following ideas are meant to assist in mitigating the risks of competing offers. Counter-offers are also very real possibility–given that the candidate’s current company will have a strong desire to keep them – but we’ll save those for another day.

Ask Them Where Else They Are Interviewing…Repeatedly

One of the most important things you can do as a hiring manager, HR manager or internal or external recruiter is to ask if the candidate is currently considering or interviewing for other opportunities. This should be done after every step in the process from the phone interview through the last interview and during each conversation with the candidate until they sign the offer. The challenge for hiring authorities associated with a particular company is that the candidate may not tell you. Even if they don’t tell you after you ask the question for the first time, they may eventually either drop hints that they are being considered elsewhere or let you know what other opportunities they are pursuing. One of the benefits of working with a recruiting firm is that, as a third party, the candidate is willing to be open about what is REALLY transpiring in their job search.

Forsaking All Others

When you get married, the deal is that you commit to one person, “forsaking all others”. Just as some people in a marriage have a difficult time doing this, so too do your candidates. There is always the allure of what the other “opportunity” might be like. “Will they offer me more money?” “Maybe the other role will better?” “Is this really the best decision?”

Most companies take candidates through a multi-stage process – investing a lot of time and money–and have no idea where they stand. They ignorantly assume that they are the only suitor. They make an offer and are shocked when they are turned down.

Before making a candidate an offer, you want to be sure that they are going to accept it. Dare I say, this is where a good recruiter will earn their fee? What I do, and recommend that you do, is take the candidate through the offer one step at a time.

Begin by getting their agreement about what they’ve said they want and what you are offering. For example, “You said that you are looking for $90,000 per year. Is that correct?” They will likely say “Yes”. “You said you wanted four weeks vacation, is that still the case?” “Yes”. This is a page taken from the world of closing the sale. The more often they say “Yes”, the more psychologically committed people feel to saying “yes” to the final question which is, “Will you accept this offer?” The next step is to run through the offer. “If I could offer you $90,000 per year to start with four weeks vacation in the role of IT Manager, would you accept?”

Their response will be telling. If they immediately say “yes” without hesitation and sound excited then you likely have yourself a new hire. If there is any hesitation, if they don’t sound that excited or say they have to think about it or give you an outright “no” then you will know that they have either received a counter-offer from their existing employer or they are close to receiving or have received another offer from someone else.

No matter how well the interview process has gone or how enthusiastic a candidate is about your opportunity or company, don’t assume that they aren’t talking to other companies. If they aren’t, it’s a bonus. If they are, then staying on top of where they are interviewing, how things are progressing and whether they will accept your offer can both help shape your offer and secure the candidate.

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