While job seekers suffer their fair share of rejection, employers feel the sting of denial as well. What hiring manager hasn't approached a top prospect with what they believed to be a stellar offer, only to be turned down?
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Some companies face a chronic problem of candidates repeatedly turning down their job offers, but even those employers for which rejection is less common could stand to learn a thing or two about making irresistible job offers. After all: When you've identified a highly talented candidate whom you want on your team, you should be ready to pull out all the stops to get them.
Let's start by reviewing three big mistakes employers make when extending job offers:
1. Thinking the Job Offer Is All About Salary and Benefits
"We are pleased to offer you the role of X. We will pay you $Y. Your benefits include Z."
If your job offers look a lot like this, it's no wonder candidates are turning you down. Contrary to popular belief, job seekers – especially the most talented ones – aren't only interested in titles, salaries, and benefits packages. Surveys have found that today's job seekers prioritize professional development, career planning, and meaningful work over compensation and other perks. Your job offers should include relevant information on these topics to really catch a candidate's eye.
2. Making the Candidate Work to Figure Out What Your Job Offer Means
If your offer letter is light on details, the candidate is going to be put off by the lack of clarity and communication. If this is how you treat candidates when you're trying your hardest to woo them, just imagine how you'll treat candidates when they actually become employees! At least, this is the way job seekers will see your vague job offer.
The conversation surrounding your job offer – and yes, there should be a conversation, not just a letter – should include a clear outline of the benefits package, the compensation structure, the job title, what is expected of the candidate if they take the job, and why the job would be a good career move for them. Contain as much of this information in the offer letter as possible, and explain it more in detail when you extend the offer. The candidate should have very few – if any – questions about the job when the offer is made.
3. Failing to Understand the Candidate's Motivations
What drew this candidate to your company and your opening? What do they want out of their career? What motivates them? What goals do they want to achieve? What does "meaningful work" look like to them?
If these are questions you can't answer when making an offer, then there's a good chance your candidate will be less than impressed by what you have to offer them. Ditch the formal letters in favor of personalized messaging that addresses the candidate's specific needs and wants. Candidates will be less likely to turn down your job offers if it's clear that you crafted those offers specifically for them.
Getting a 'Yes': What to Do to Get Candidates on Board
Now that we've covered some common mistakes, let's look at six quick and easy ways to make sure your job offers are as tantalizing as possible:
There should be no new information in the job offer. Every detail of the position should be something you discussed with the candidate in advance. If there are details that you can't solidify until the offer is made, like salary, ensure the candidate at least has some sort of expectations. Don't blindside them! The easiest way to get candidates to reject your offer is to drop brand new information on them at the last minute.
2. Give Them Space to Think
Don't pressure candidates for an answer right away. Allow them to take their time if it's clear they need space to think.
That being said, you should also politely, but firmly, agree on a time frame within which the candidate will respond to the offer. Follow up with the candidate in the agreed-upon time frame. You want the candidate to have the space they need, but you also want to keep your offer top of mind, in case competitors come along.
3. Be Willing to Negotiate
Decide before extending the offer where negotiation is possible. For example, maybe you can't go any higher on salary but are open to giving more PTO. Knowing in advance where the wiggle room is can keep you calm and collected when the candidate tries to negotiate the offer – and if you're dealing with top talent, they likely will.
Don't be rigid: Make sure there is some room for negotiation. If your message to the candidate is "My way or the highway," they'll choose the highway.
4. Move Quickly
On average, 2-4 weeks can elapse between the final interview and the job offer being extended. In that time, a company that moves more quickly can easily snatch the very same candidate you were eyeing as a perfect fit. Don't drag your feet. Get the offer out there as soon as you can.
5. Build Career Progression into the Offer
Many of today's candidates are interested in professional development above all else, so try to work some career progression information into your offer.
Obviously, you can't promise a raise in X months, but you can explain how raises work in your company and how often the candidate could reasonably expect to receive one at your organization. You can also schedule an initial performance review for, say, six months from the new hire's start date. That way, you'll have time to observe the new hire's work and can discuss progression possibilities more in depth.
6. Offer Emotional Support
Yes, you're their new employer, not their therapist, but remember: Changing jobs can be stressful and an emotionally charged time for professionals. Consider offering your HR team as a source of advice for the candidate. Your HR pros can help your newest hire figure out the best way to give notice to their current employer and make the transition to your company. Very few of your competitors will offer the same courtesy, so this is a great way to make a unique impression on a candidate.
The competition for top talent is fiercer than ever right now. While there's no surefire way to make sure every offer you extend is accepted, following the advice outlined above is guaranteed to make your offers more enticing.