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How to Keep Your Candidates from Backing Out of Offers

One of the more challenging aspects of the job market over the past year has been its unevenness. Some businesses are booming, some are in the dumps and many are in flux. As the economy has strengthened, though, more and more companies are hiring. This means an uptick in the number of career opportunities for both passive and active job seekers – and an increase in the odds that your coveted candidate may not accept – or worse, back out of – your offer.

Before we tackle how to keep your candidates from backing out of offers, it’s worth sharing that we’ve noticed a common misconception that the pandemic has made candidates desperate to get back into the workforce because they’ve been laid off. In reality, that’s just not true.

Many industries (think life sciences and technology) are just as competitive as they were before the pandemic, and never lost steam – especially for contract and temporary assignments. Others, like healthcare and consumer goods saw a surge in demand for talent because of the pandemic and while hospitality and retail have suffered, they are both starting to open up. As organizations strive to hire good candidates, they need to do everything they can to keep them from backing out of offers or looking elsewhere.

What Candidates Want – and, Want to Know

As in any job market, knowing how you stack up against the competition is a boon. Sure, pay is important, but it’s not the only thing job seekers care about.

Here are some questions we hear from candidates as they interview and consider accepting offers. As an employer, responding to these concerns is an important step in preventing candidates from backing out of offers.

“When will the contract engagement start and how long does the company see it lasting?”

While there isn’t always a clear answer to the latter, the more detail you can give, the better. If you can guarantee candidates that they’ll be on assignment for a certain amount of time, it will make you more attractive. Transparency and honesty are especially important early in the process. People appreciate it.

“Is there growth potential?”

You’re much more likely to entice the right candidate if you can speak to future opportunities. If it’s a contract position, is there true potential for a permanent job? Do you see a path for the right person to grow in the role? Be willing to share this with the right candidates.

“Can I work from home?”

The pandemic has dramatically changed how and where we work. What was often a perk in the past is now expected. It’s difficult to get a candidate to go on-site when there are so many opportunities offering one hundred percent remote work. To be competitive, employers must know the answer to this question early, even when writing the job description.

“Are you flexible in your pay rate?”

Again, the expectation throughout 2020 was that most candidates were just happy to be employed during a global pandemic. But now these same candidates are asking for more money. Research the current pay rates for the position and decide how high you are willing to go for the right candidate. And, of course, talk to your staffing firm about what competitive rates they are seeing. As recruiters, we have in-depth information on what candidates expect – and what your competitors are willing to pay.

“What other perks do you offer?”

Perks for a contractor? In a competitive labor market, yes. If your state doesn’t mandate it, can you offer benefits like paid time off? Vouchers for equipment, food or even a local gym membership? Especially if you are looking to fill a temp-to-permanent role, these are good items to have on the table.

Ultimately, you want to give the candidate all the information possible to help them to make a better decision – and stick with it.

Streamline Your Internal Hiring Process

Many candidates end up backing out of offers because the process is taking too long. In a competitive job market, the name of the game is to move as quickly as possible on candidates. If a candidate is interviewing with you, they’re probably interviewing with other companies, too. And if you like them, there’s almost a guarantee the other companies will covet them as well. What can you do to speed along the hiring process, even when you don’t have complete control over all the players?

Educate your hiring managers.

Internally, educate your people about the reality of the job market for the position they are looking to fill. They may assume, like many others, that the pandemic has created more supply than demand. Share current metrics like average time to fill, applicants per position, cost to hire and offer acceptance rates. There’s nothing like numbers to get a hiring manager’s attention.

Outline the interview process.

If you’ve already developed a step-by-step guide, see how you can improve it. Can fewer people be involved? Are you ready to move quickly at the end of each step, and if not, why not? What is clogging the process?

Be ready to roll.

Make sure that when you open a role, you’re ready to interview candidates. That may seem obvious but there’s been many a time when we’ve sent a candidate over and the company takes a week to get back to us. In a competitive market, the candidate could have interviewed elsewhere or even gotten an offer in that week. This is especially true with contract staff.

Who really needs to be involved and are they ready?

Again, in a competitive market, quick turnarounds are essential. Identify exactly who will be involved in the review process and their availability over the coming week. Make sure they have the job description and interview questions and get the candidate’s resume to them as soon as you’re able.

In the past year, we have seen a volatile labor market, for sure. But the basics remain the same. Consider how you can make the open position attractive from the get-go, from how the job posting is worded, to how you communicate with the candidate at every step, through a speedy interview process and finally to the offer. Every action on your part – and your responsiveness as questions and concerns arise – can prevent candidates from backing out once the offer is made.

Photo credit: Canva

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