We Got Them to Accept Our Offers

Apr 8, 2015

This is the second article in a series I’m writing detailing talent acquisition at Spectrum Health and our journey to best large TA team. Last month I focused on how we reorganized the team, and this month I will begin to discuss various process changes we focused on, starting with our improvement around acceptance rates.

I don’t like offer turndowns. Not at all. I grew up in a third party world, straight commission. My first managers figuratively beat into us how devastating turndowns were. For us, when we were new to the business, they could be the difference between eating or not eating. So the lesson was learned, but let me tell you, that lesson does not only apply to third party.

In corporate recruiting it is equally important. It may not be a matter of eating or not eating, but it can be the difference between accomplishing corporate objectives or not. As corporate recruiters we all have a responsibility to make sure that our organizations have the human capital necessary for our respective business missions. In our world here, our ability to keep hire high-quality employees in a timely fashion has direct impact on the health of our communities. Turndowns hinder that greatly.

Think about what happens when we have a candidate turn down our offer. The amount of work we put into that search, the time we spent, the time the hiring manager has invested. If we have a turn down, often times we need to restart the search, or our hiring managers need to settle for their second choice, whom may not be the best choice for the role.

Psychologically, it creates a rift with our internal customer. They rely on us to deliver the right talent at the right time. It is extremely disappointing when they make their decision, and we do not deliver on their expectation.

So how did we at Spectrum Health move to a 99.54 percent offer acceptance rate? It was not that hard. The three keys were training, discipline, and discussion.

Training was the foundation. I needed to teach the recruiters why our acceptance rate was important and the impact it had on our larger mission as an organization. They had never been trained in preclosing, negotiation, or even true interviewing. We needed to train them to go through a thorough but human process with our candidates. They essentially act not only as representatives of the company, but are “agents” to the candidates as well. The recruiter’s ability to not only assess a candidates skills, but also their motivations, interests, and expectations are key to having the Best Darn Team, and to delivering excellence to our customers.

Proper interviewing was the cornerstone. So many times corporate talent acquisition does what I would consider a “screen” and not an interview. Screens cover compliance questions and a cursory review of background. Our team does a deep dive, not just what a candidate does, but why. We look at motivation, transitions, long-range goals, etc.  We want candidates who meet our needs, but we don’t want them at the expense of their goals.  The match has to be two way, and if not we need to be able to walk away on good terms. It is never our role to jam a square peg into a round hole just to get a fill.

This thoughtful and thorough interview process allows us to have realistic negotiations with candidates and to go through a solid preclosing process that helps to ensure success … which leads us to discipline. As with so many things we do every day, our success hinges on a commitment to discipline  Failing to preclose every time we have a touch point, or preclosing to a range instead of an exact amount, are prescriptions for failure. We have a high operational tempo, and the temptation to take short cuts can present itself. But as the old saying goes “haste makes waste,” so our recruiters must have a dedication to repetition and these steps in the process should become second nature.

Finally, we do post mortems on the few rejected offers we do have. These are critical for continuous improvement. When a recruiter has a turndown, they present it at our daily stand up. This is not to shame the recruiter, but to provide an objective analysis. They lay out the situation and details and the team works to help evaluate what could have been done differently, or what  may have been missed. This way we all learn collectively and everyone gets to learn from the trouble shooting process. We then record the details and proposed future solutions on our Kaizen Newspaper so we have a record we can always turn to.

Some of the Related Conference Sessions at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego:

  • Build a Sensational Talent Acquisition Operations Team, April 29, 11 a.m.
  • Increasing Your Talent GPA, April 29, 3:15 p.m.
  • Agile Talent Acquisition – Innovating the Delivery of Talent, April 29, 3:15 p.m.
  • Hiring, Training and Managing Recruiters — April 28, 1:30 p.m. (think tank)
  • Build a Sensational Talent Acquisition Operations Team — April 29, 11 a.m.
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