Winston Churchill once opined, "To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often." That may now be the mantra of top talent, as it has become increasingly common for them to change their minds and go elsewhere after accepting an offer. How can you protect yourself from this new recruiting plague of now-you-have-them, now-you-don't? Engage in re-recruitment.
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During the tight talent market of the dot-com bubble, as many as four out of every ten new hires failed to show up on their first day of work. They said "Yes," and then they changed their minds. They were convinced, and then they weren't. They backed out of their commitments and moved on to what they considered to be better ways to improve their situations.
How could this happen? It's peculiar to the nature of top talent.
These candidates have rare skills or are considered top performers, so they are almost always employed when they receive an offer. Therefore, they have to give notice when they say "Yes," and in the intervening two or four week period, many can be – and often are – either lured back into the fold with a counteroffer from their current employer or hired away by a greener-grass offer from some other recruiter. The recruiter who did all the initial work to put them into play and get them to say "Yes" is left holding the bag and facing the prospect of starting all over again to fill their requisition.
Fast forward to today and we are, once again, facing a tight talent market. And once again, top performers are changing their minds. This time, however, there is a way to protect yourself from such fickle behavior. All it involves is the addition of a single step to your recruiting process – a step I call "re-recruitment."
Getting Past 'Yes'
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In most organizations, both the job of a recruiter and the recruiting process end when the candidate accepts an offer. At that point, the candidate is typically turned over to the HR department for onboarding, and the recruiter moves on to the other 75 or 80 open requisitions on which they're working.
That approach is time-tested and effective – with active job seekers. Most of them are unemployed and have few choices. In contrast, the so-called "passive job seeker" – the candidate most often described as "top talent" – is normally employed and has any number of options. They are, in effect, a change waiting to happen if something isn't done to inoculate them.
Think of re-recruitment, therefore, as a form of new hire inoculation. It is a program of communication that begins immediately after the acceptance of an offer and serves not to onboard the individual, but to reaffirm their decision as the right move for them, the move that will best improve their career prospects and move them closer to perfection.
For example, re-recruitment might be implemented by giving each new hire the ID and password to their own home page on the employer's corporate site the minute they accept the offer. Then, when they open that page for the first time, they see a personal message from the CEO of the company welcoming them to their new team. After that, they receive a constant stream of messages from their new coworkers and colleagues describing the cool work they'll be doing and the opportunities they'll have to make a difference. The outreach conveys a simple but powerful message: "You've made the right choice, and you should stick with it."
Just as no inoculation is foolproof, re-recruitment won't completely eliminate the possibility of a new hire changing their mind. It will, however, encourage them to feel as if they are a valued member of the team from the minute they say "Yes," and that's the best protection there is in a tight talent market.
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