We made a fantastic offer to a candidate, but they turned us down. What did we do wrong?
Let me guess: The base salary was 15K more than they are making now. The bonus potential was through the roof. Your relocation package made sure he/she would not have a single need/want. Oh, and your school is brand-new, the crown jewel of the organization, but they turned you down. Why?
There is no magic answer to the above scenario, and in many cases you may never be able to determine exactly what went wrong, but there are some red flags you should look for and their possible solutions:
- What is the motivation for change? Why is this candidate sitting in front of you for an interview? In our experience the majority of candidates who make a move have something going on at their current position that has left them less than satisfied. Has there been a change in ownership or leadership? Are there compliance issues? Do they work for an organization that is rumored to have an unfavorable working environment? If any of these exist, good! You have a motivated candidate and a good shot of hiring them.
- Why are they considering relocation to your neck of the woods? This one is pretty simple, folks: if they do not have family or some other significant tie to the area, then they are probably considering relocation for the wrong reasons. Over 80 percent of candidates who relocate only because “that is where the job was” don’t last longer than 2 years. You want to find something tangible here. The kids or grandkids live in the area, or maybe they went to school there. Some connection to the relocation destination other than the opportunity should exist. Don’t get me wrong. It can work without these in place, but the odds are against it.
- One word: momentum. Once a verbal offer is extended and accepted, you want to keep things moving forward. A written offer letter should follow the same day as verbal acceptance, if possible, but no later than 24 hours. The offer letter should be time stamped so a written reply is required by five p.m. the next business day. Once the signed offer letter comes in, a call of congratulations should go out immediately. This should be followed by daily contact. Keep your new hire engaged. Get them the materials necessary to hit the ground running. Make sure their relocation is going smoothly. Ask for their input on current issues/decisions. You need to walk them down the aisle. Don’t let go for a second or you could end up with a runaway bride!
- Finally: counter-offer, counter-offer, counter-offer. It is a very competitive marketplace, and everyone is trying to attract the same candidates. Obviously it is easier (and less expensive) to keep a top-performing employee than to replace one. Expect their current employer to make it very hard to leave. They will hit them with financial, positional and emotional counter-offers, so don’t be afraid to bring the subject up with the candidate. Then take it a step further and ask for their commitment to forgo counter-offers of any type should they accept an offer from you. You will be surprised how many people will keep their commitment when you ask for it.
That’s great, Vin! I actually have to hire a campus director this fall. What is the best way to proceed in this marketplace?
Tune in next time when we address this question. If you have a question you would like answered in upcoming blogs, please list them in the comment section of this post, or submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.