This just happened: I’m discussing a potential partnership with a client, to help them build their engineering team. When I ask them to tell me about their hiring process and the challenges they are facing, a huge sigh follows. The CEO informs me that out of the last four offers they made, zero candidates said yes. Zero. Solid company, great management, compelling technology, and top-tier VC backing are almost useless when you have a broken or non existent hiring process.
This should never happen, but it is all too common (“over 90 percent of employers and recruiters noted that candidates had rejected job offers in the past year,” says MRI.)
When you extend an offer, you should be 99.9 percent confident of an acceptance.
All the time I hear stories about companies struggling to close someone they want to hire, leaving voicemail after voicemail, interpreting “I want to finish the process with some other interviews first” or failing to pin down a potential start date. What they fail to realize is that these are the warning signs of a big, fat no thanks in their immediate future.
Why do people reject job offers? In the company’s mind (and no offense, because everyone thinks their company is great), they can’t fathom why a candidate wouldn’t say yes to their offer, even on the most basic level (i.e. a paying job.) This mindset (and process) is purely transactional. What companies all over the startup map fail to understand is that a job offer is like a wedding proposal, and if the two partners aren’t simpatico … well, that’s why divorce rates are so high.
For a long, fulfilling relationship, you need to make sure your partner’s (candidate’s) needs and wants are compatible with your own. You must thoroughly understand exactly what this person will do when you hire them, and have a good idea of where your company will go. And on the flip side, you need to know exactly what’s important to this individual, and what they want out of their career and their life goals. A great in-depth process is the key to hiring success.
This front-end work should result in the offer merely being a formality — a quick signature on a page as your new hire adds their email accounts to their new work computer. Much in the same way a proposal is only one piece of a marriage, the getting-on-one-knee stuff only lasts a minute while the union (hopefully) lasts much longer. Have you ever heard someone say “I’m seeing what my options are” when they’re proposed to, besides on reality TV?
There are ways to avoid wasting hours of time, degrading company morale, and throwing away countless dollars toward rejected offers. One way is to know the warning signs: Do they answer your phone calls? More importantly, are they proactive in calling you? Do they ask good questions? Give you honest feedback? Can they give you a solid start date? Are they shopping anyone else? If you have a bad feeling in your gut, drop ‘em quick. If the person fights to get it back, then close them. But if they just let it go, you made the right move and saved yourself a lot of time and heartache.
Another way of making the right hire: Be meticulously diligent at the beginning of the process. Invest the time to get to know the person in front of you as a person. What are their goals or dreams? What new skills do they want to learn or perfect? What revolution do they want to add their banner to? And most of all, how does your role and company fit to match their criteria? The new career you’re offering someone you want to hire needs to enhance their life.
This is where a recruiter becomes essential. It’s our job to find out what each potential addition to your company wants out of life, their tech languages, dream car, and wine-food pairing of choice. All this information helps the recruiter and your hiring manager root out potential wastes of time, leaving behind the happy few who could be “the one.” Investing that time is worth it in the end.
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