In what appears to be a “candidate driven” market with analytics, digital and mobile strategy and marketing skills in high demand, we thought our comments on how to close the deal with job candidates would be of interest.
While we do not like to admit to losing candidates to competitive offers, this is sometimes the case and we wanted to share our perspectives on this topic.
The Role – This is the most important aspect of attracting and closing the deal with prospective candidates. It is the recruiter’s role, together with the client, to define the authorities and responsibilities within the scope of the position clearly – as well as defining what is outside the scope of the position. Selling a “bigger or inflated” role to a candidate and then having them realize the reduced scope during the interviewing process is one sure way to lose candidates’ interest. The flip side is also true – especially with new digital strategy, marketing and customer experience roles which are frequently new within an organization. To the extent you can highlight this is a new role and has the commitment of the CEO and Executive Leadership Team, plus there is a budget commitment to invest behind the role, this can make it more desirable for candidates to accept this position.
The Vision – The vision for the position as well as the advancement potential (or head room) for the candidate are critical to attracting and closing the deal. High performing candidates, while interested in the role, want to hear about the career path potential and where their position can lead in the future. The vision for the role needs also needs to be consistent with the company’s overall vision and priorities in terms of capital investment. In some instances, we have heard back from candidates that they heard different visions (or lack of a common vision) from several executives they spoke with and this is a kiss of death in terms of closing the deal. We recruit a lot for CMOs and so we tell our clients it is critical the CEO, CMO and CTO be on the same page and this must come through clearly to candidates.
The Culture – At the end of the day, candidates leave jobs because of culture and they join because of culture. In addition to the role itself, candidates ask themselves, “Is this a place I want to work at and are these a group of people I can be motivated by, learn from, and enjoy working with? If the culture appears dysfunctional, or people seem to operate in silos, candidates will leave the front door and not look back in the rear view mirror. We coach our clients to sell the positive culture aspects as well as making sure the interview team is on the same page in describing the company’s mission, vision, purpose.
The Close – First, and foremost, the offer package has to be right and this is a responsibility of the recruiter from the outset to set expectations fairly and to advise the client regarding the candidate’s compensation expectations. Without a compelling and attractive offer, the deal is DOA. However, managing and staying close to the finalist candidate during the “closing period” – typically a 2-3 week process during which background checks and references are being checked plus the final offer package is being approved – is equally important. We had an instance recently with a consulting firm client (they tend to be the worst because they operate by consensus and committees) who “went dark” with the finalist during the closing period while another competitor swooped in and closed the deal. The candidate remarked, “I didn’t hear from them at all during this period and thought they might have lost interest or were questioning my candidacy.” If you are the hiring manager or recruiter, you need to stay close to the candidate with weekly telephone calls, possible offers for other members of the firm to meet for drinks/dinner, or otherwise letting the candidate know you are moving toward a “win-win” close and remaining excited about their joining.
Summary – As always we enjoy hearing your comments and feedback and we look forward to staying connected. Best, Jeff Gundersen – CEO Executive Connections LLC