How a person feels about what they do for a living can have a real impact on an individual’s happiness – far beyond the money the job provides. Liking the nature of one’s work, the people with whom one works and the career path one is traveling will go a long way to making someone feel good about what they do. Because people will spend a significant percentage of their lives working, liking what they do is important. Therefore, a person changing jobs is making a major life decision.
We would hope that this decision would be based on more than just money. Fortunately, most times it is. So, when extending a candidate an offer, it is important to address more than the compensation, title, benefits and measurable aspects of the offer.
To really make the offer compelling, a recruiter needs to help the candidate connect emotionally to the position and the company. The best way to help establish this connection includes both plying your craft as a recruiter and partnering with your client.
People always like to feel wanted. It is important that the candidate feels wanted by the company. Anyone receiving an offer is going to know that a company wants their services – wants to tap into their abilities in order to accomplish their mission. That is the obvious part. What is important is that you and the client make it clear that they want the person, not just the resume. At the beginning of an offer, I will usually tell the candidate why he or she was selected – and I always mention that they had competition.
“Mr. Candidate, Jenny, Len and Bill interviewed a number of qualified candidates for this position. Everyone who walked through their door was technically equipped to do the job. However, at the end of the process, they felt a particular connection with you. Beyond your skillset, they felt that as an individual, you represented the best fit for their team.
After getting to know you, they feel that not only are you the best person to come in and accomplish what they need to accomplish, but that you have the potential to take this position to another level. Additionally, they feel that you show the ability to continue to progress within their organization for many years and to perpetually contribute at a higher and higher level.”
Now, when I talk about a candidate’s progression within an organization, I make it a point to speak to the candidate’s known career goals and tie them in with the stated goals of the company. I try to give the candidate a sense for some of the future successes that will be possible with my client. My father, who has been in executive search for thirty years, calls this “taking them to the top of the mountain and showing them the horizon.”
Another reason that I talk to the candidate about the level of competition he faced is that it is important that the candidate feels as though, by receiving the offer, they have won something – that this position we are offering is a reward for their previous accomplishments and by accepting the offer they are merely claiming their prize. And while it is helpful to discuss the competition at the end of the process, it is most effective to do this throughout the process.
I always like to encourage the candidate during the process, but also make sure they sense that they still need to win it for themselves. Usually when I am debriefing a candidate after their first interview or scheduling subsequent interviews, I will tell a candidate “They are really high on you right now, but you do have some competition. There are a couple of other highly qualified people in the mix. Your chances are very good, but you need to continue to perform well during the interviews.”
Helping the candidate connect with your client is a big job – but it does not need to be a task that you accomplish by yourself. Getting your client involved during the offer, ideally with a pre-offer phone call to the candidate, can go a long way to help the candidate develop the appropriate emotional connection with the position. Have the client reinforce the long-term synergy that exists between the goals of the candidate and the goals of the company.
“Mr. Candidate, we are really excited about the prospect of you potentially joining our company. The consensus among the team is that you would make a great addition.? We feel that with you on our team, we will be able to accomplish a great deal going forward. I think, as well, that we can offer you the chance to develop in a number of ways. We are putting together an offer as we speak that we think you will find attractive. Mr. Recruiter will be in touch with the details.”
Additionally, if the client is comfortable doing so, it can be compelling if they extend the offer directly to the candidate. It is important, however, that the client is well coached on extending the offer and that they have reviewed the terms with you to ensure that the offer will meet or exceed the candidate’s expectations.
After an offer is accepted, have the client maintain contact during the important time between the acceptance and the date the candidate starts. Especially if the period extends longer than two or three weeks, it is important to have the client assist in maintaining the momentum. A phone call, an Email, or a lunch date can help to keep the candidate excited about starting with your client. The contact can be very simple – perhaps a call to let the candidate know that the team is happy to hear of the acceptance or an Email to find out if the candidate needs specific supplies or software on their first day.
We learn in Recruiting 101 that closing the candidate starts early in the process. For the end of the hiring process to proceed smoothly, we need to have covered all of our bases during the process in order to ensure that there will be no surprises at the end.
Ask the candidate about potential concerns they may have at every point in the interview cycle. Address their concerns as early as possible. Make sure they have all of the information needed to make a decision prior to extending an offer. Removing as many variables as possible will make for a much smoother offer and acceptance.
In speaking about the non-monetary aspects of the offer, I do not mean to downplay the importance of cash compensation. As very few of us would do what we do for free, money does play an important part in an offer. Understanding your candidate’s salary expectations and coaching your client to exceed them can make the closing process easier.
However, as the job market continues to improve and the competition for top candidates becomes fierce, a recruiter and his client can greatly improve the chances of hearing “yes” to a job offer by taking the offer beyond the money and helping the candidate and client connect on a much deeper level.