If you’ve ever swung back on your chair in the satisfaction of nailing the right person for your vacancy, only to lose your balance when they call you to say they’ve decided not to come after all, you’ll share the pain of many good employers who have found themselves in the same gut-wrenching position.
Good candidates are hard won these days which is why it matters more than ever that nothing happens to change their mind in the No Man’s Land between receiving a carefully negotiated job offer and starting work.
By being alert to this common danger period, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid losing your dream employee.
Instead of leaning back in your chair as soon as the offer email has been sent, consider this as the start of a detailed conversation. You will be able to find plenty of excuses to keep in touch with your candidate and our advice is to use every single one of them. Confirm their start date and make sure the contract has been signed and returned. Follow up with a few details about their induction. You might want to let them know about on-site facilities before they join, rather than leaving it to the start date. As experienced recruiters, our post-offer process for clients includes offering candidates support with their resignation letter. You might want to let them know that your HR team is available to advise if they run into any difficulties during the resignation process. Once the resignation period has started, touch base regularly with some information about the new role or an update of company news.
Your candidate is taking a leap and they’re bound to have a few doubts. Reassure them and make them feel good about their new career move. Congratulate them, tell them how excited you are to have them join you, introduce them to some of the team they’ll be working with. Maybe there’s a team social event that they could come along to before they start. Perhaps their line manager or someone in their team can email them to say how much everyone’s looking forward to meeting them. Make them feel like part of the team already.
By far the most effective way to deal with the almost inevitable counter offer from the candidate’s current employer is to tackle it head on before it happens. During the interview and selection process, ask your candidate what their ideal offer would look like and get them to imagine a counter offer from their current employer. What offer would they like from you that would beat any counter offer? By getting them to think about the counter offer in advance, they are less likely to be surprised and flattered when it comes. They are also more likely to think of it as a compromise compared to the deal they have negotiated with you.
Listening is just as important as communicating during this sensitive period. Often a candidate has hinted, even subtly, about something they’re not 100% keen on in the job offer or contract. It could be a restrictive covenant, the notice period or holiday allowance. It is likely that they will have questioned it mildly and you will have batted away their concerns, thinking nothing more of it. This is a warning sign and it pays to listen to alarm bells like these, however quiet they may seem. If you sense a niggle from your candidate, ask them whether this is something that bothers them. Encourage them to expand and if you sense a potential stumbling block, offer to reconsider if you can. When a candidate retreats to the safety of their current job or chooses another offer, it can often be because of something really small.
These days, particularly in the field of HVAC and building services where we operate, each candidate will generally be weighing up a number of job offers. It is OK to ask them what other offers they have in the pipeline. It is also OK to ask them how your role compares to others they’re currently applying for. All information gained is knowledge that will help you manage the post-offer No Man’s Land. It is also quite acceptable to ask the candidate to let you know if anything changes after they have accepted your offer. You can tell them that you know they may have other offers in the pipeline and you would hate to lose them when you know how well they would fit in with your team. Candidates appreciate this kind of honesty and openness from a potential employer.
Before we finish this tricky topic, we should mention onboarding. Never forget that the number of candidates leaving in the first few months of a new job is high too. Make sure you give new starters a great experience, a clear onboarding plan and regular check ins to iron out any issues they might be facing.