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Feb 11, 2019

In last week’s companion article “The Top 5 No Cost Sourcing Approaches — And Each Is Guaranteed To Work,” I covered the five best no-cost approaches for finding top candidates. However, in today’s highly competitive job marketplace, even if you find top candidates those with multiple job choices will be extremely hard to land. So, if you are also having difficulty in the areas of selling and closing top candidates and you don’t have the resources to pay well, use the effective candidate selling approaches outlined below. All are intuitive, easy to understand, and because they produce great results, you won’t break your salary budget.

If You have Difficulty Landing Top Candidates, Use These Proven Selling Approaches

The most effective selling approaches appear first on the list.

Having your CEO contact the finalist is powerful

The most powerful convincing tool of all is a personalized one-on-one meeting with the CEO. The executive connection has such a major impact on finalists because it shows that the CEO is paying close attention to this non-executive hire. It also demonstrates to the finalist that the chief executive is also willing to take the time to learn about them and to invest their time to sell them on their future with the firm.

Most finalists also assume that having a special relationship and a call or meeting with the CEO at the very start will mean that they will assuredly have complete access to the CEO as well as their support and backing for all aspects of their future work. The CEO (or alternatively the senior manager in charge) must be well briefed on the finalist, their previous work, their interests, and what they will be working on when they join the firm to maximize the effectiveness of this contact. Asking the finalist to stop by their executive office on their first day will further increase the sales effect. Learn more about the details of CEO calls.

In addition to assessment, peer interviews are also effective at selling

Peer interviews (where a panel of team members conduct a finalist interview) are an extremely effective selling tool. Employees “experience the job every day,” and the pitches provided by the finalist’s peers are more likely to be richer and compelling. The candidate’s likely future coworkers will also have a more compelling job, team, and company stories to share. And finally, because top candidates expect to have a significant impact if they take any job, teammates are also best equipped to help a finalist fully understand the tremendous impact that the new hire will have on the team, the product, the customer, and the world. If the finalist is an employee referral, it also makes sense to have the referring employee call them to help the firm close the hire. More details on peer interviews.

A side-by-side “company sell sheet” makes managers more effective salespeople

Many managers do a poor job selling the company to their finalists. Managers who hire infrequently haven’t devoted the time necessary to keep up with the competitive job market. Often the most-effective option for improving the sales capability of hiring managers is to provide them with a side-by-side comparison “sell sheet” (similar to the direct product comparisons provided in Consumer Reports). This simple single-page sheet lists the factors that most top candidates care about. And for each factor it demonstrates when your firm has a superior offering in a side-by-side comparison with other similar firms. This sheet not only reminds managers and recruiters about the factors that most top finalists expect, but it also prompts managers to highlight the areas where your firm excels.

The mere fact that a manager knows the firm’s work and product strengths can serve to increase the confidence of candidates who want to work at a firm that strives to be the best in its industry continually. More about comparison sell sheets.

Target your selling approach to their needs and provide at least one WOW

Merely reminding the hiring manager the importance of selling at every step of the hiring process is the first step in increasing awareness. Recruiters must remind hiring managers that whenever they have a particularly difficult finalist to sell, at least half of the final interview time should be devoted to selling. To ensure that the manager is selling the right things, hiring managers should be encouraged to ask each top finalist to list their job acceptance factors, which are the criteria that they will use to assess an offer, as well as any deal-breaker factors. After the manager identifies these factors for each individual finalist, they should spend some time showing how this job meets each one. For example, if one of the acceptance factors is rapid internal movement, the manager could excite them by showing where they could be in a year or two if they progressed as rapidly as previous new hires in this job.

And finally, managers need to be convinced that they must include at least one WOW factor that is guaranteed to impress. A WOW factor might be including something exciting in their offer that was not even discussed (like a personal development budget or a choice of projects). A pleasant surprise that the candidate will widely talk about will dramatically increase your chances of getting a “yes.”

Provide a salary re-opener after six months when you can’t offer the money they want

Whenever a finalist has multiple offers, a low salary offer will obviously be a significant concern. In the cases when you can’t initially offer them the compensation that they feel they deserve, try a compelling alternative. Offer a salary re-opener meeting after three or six months. This usually works because smart candidates understand that at the time of hire, neither the hiring manager nor the candidate can really know how strong their contribution will be. So, promise them that after a short period of proving themselves, you will then be able to justify giving them more money. If the job itself is compelling, most top performers are willing to wait a bit and let their results speak for them. More about salary reopeners.

Here’s a more extensive list of 30+factors for increasing your offer acceptance rates.


Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, follow or connect with me on LinkedIn, subscribe to the ERE Daily, and hear me and others speak at ERE’s April event in San Diego on “recruiting in a candidate-driven market.”

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