Avoiding Top Candidate Loss

Avoiding Top Candidate Loss

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Brandy called her Abel Personnel recruiter within 5 minutes of receiving her manager’s approval to make an employment offer for the senior accountant position. She was hooked on that candidate within 5 minutes of the interview start; the other interviews felt more like “going through the motions.” This was her top candidate! However, within an hour, Brandy heard back from the recruiter that the top candidate had just accepted another offer.

Brandy was devastated. Not only had this lost candidate been a great find, but Brandy had shared her enthusiasm for the candidate with the management team, who would also be disappointed. The recruiter gave Brandy a minute to collect herself, and then encouraged her to regroup.

The Pivot

    “So, is there a backup plan?” Brandy asked. The recruiter knew which of the other interviewees had ranked second and third in Brandy’s evaluation and had immediately emailed them to verify their availability just before sitting down to formulate a new plan with Brandy.

    “Are either of those two candidates still a good fit?” The recruiter asked. “What was it about the preferred candidate that set them apart from the others? We could also take a step back to reconsider the job description and qualifications?”

    When Brandy did not give a ready answer to these questions, the recruiter pivoted to exploring how Abel could provide a temporary worker to fill the opening as a bridge to the direct hire. There were a few recent retirees that the recruiter had already interviewed for temp positions who had been senior accountants in a similar position. Likely one of them could start the following Monday. Brandy embraced this strategy, and those resumes were in her inbox before the phone call ended.

    Abel Personnel’s temporary employee performed well over the four weeks needed to identify another top candidate, despite having different strengths and weaknesses than the lost candidate. Brandy was grateful for her recruiter’s support in this tough situation, and she did NOT want to lose her next top candidate. She asked the recruiter how she could avoid this situation with the new candidate search.

Avoiding the Loss
The recruiter offered the following guidance:

  • Maintain a Sense of Urgency:In any labor market, the great fit, new-hire is a scarce find. When you find that right person, be ready to move immediately, even if it is the first resume or interviewee. Alert your management and anyone else who will need to approve the offer that you will need their swift response in order to achieve the best outcome for the organization. Time is of the essence!
  • Address Post-Hire Hurdles:When making the offer, be clear to both the recruiter as well as the candidate about any conditions, such as background checks, clearances and drug tests. If these are surprises, it might discourage your candidate enough to be tempted by a later counteroffer from their current employer or another company. If possible, be ready to discuss scheduling these conditions as soon as the offer is accepted. Act quickly; top candidates often have multiple offers on the table. If you identify a strong candidate, make the offer promptly. Delaying the process increases the risk of them accepting another offer.
  • Communicate Effectively:Keep your recruiter informed throughout the hiring process. Provide regular updates on the status of the candidates you’ve received and the timelines. Promptly respond to their emails and phone calls. There could be some vital information you need or they need in order to gain a successful hire.
  • Engage the New Hire:Once the offer has been accepted, the hiring process is far from over. Likely, your top candidate has attracted the attention of others looking to hire who will be willing to offer the candidate a better package. To avoid a no-win bidding war, immediately make the new hire feel welcome– already a member of the team. Suggest the new hire come in immediately to go through the paperwork, even if the official start date is weeks away. Give one or two of the new hire’s soon-to-be colleagues, or even upper management, reasons to engage with them, also. Perhaps you could ask their office neighbor to schedule lunch with them for the first or second day of work. Ask the administrative assistant to call and find out how they like their name to appear on their new name plate; others can contact them about business cards and email signatures.
  • Have a Backup Plan in Place:All these best practices still might not bring in your top candidate. Anticipate the possibility of the offer being rejected, and have a plan in place of the steps you’ll take if the top candidate turns you down. Communicate that plan to your management team so that everyone knows how you will be mitigating this risk. You might turn to your second-best candidate or reconsider the job description and qualification requirements, while an Abel Personnel temporary employee fills in.

Brandy’s recruiter would also be undertaking each of those activities. Taking the necessary steps to engage the ideal candidate is as essential to the hiring process as finding and vetting qualified candidates. In fact, every new hire had her attention for about 90 days after the start date, just to make sure everything in the onboarding process was proceeding smoothly. With the guidance from her Abel recruiter, Brandy was better prepared to act quickly the next time she identified her top candidate or change course when the candidate’s plans inevitably change.

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