7 things to do when a
candidate rejects your offer.
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missed out on great talent? don’t let it happen again.
Did your favorite candidate just say: “Thanks, but no thanks?” You’re not alone. Today’s talent landscape is more competitive than ever before, and employers are increasingly faced with candidates who turn down offers. If this sounds familiar, don’t get discouraged.
Rejection stings — especially if you’ve spent many hours over many weeks to find the perfect person. Thankfully, there are actionable steps you can take to rebound quickly and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
have a backup.
Ideally, you’ve been interviewing several great prospects, and the perfect person is just your favorite among many strong candidates. Even before you present your favorite prospect with an offer, be prepared to have backup offers for the others so you don’t have to scramble if your top choice says “no.” And it always makes sense to backup your backup. If it’s a critical position that needs to be filled immediately, have a Plan C and a Plan D ready, as well.
reconsider your offer.
If you’re losing great candidates to competitors, it may be because their salaries and benefits are more attractive. If they’re paying more, that means you may not be offering what candidates are worth on the open market. Research the going rate for that position in your industry and region, and make sure what you’re offering is at least competitive. Also, be sure that the candidate’s experience, education and skills align with the responsibilities and demands of the position.
If a candidate rejects your offer, there’s nothing wrong with asking what you can do to get to “yes,” especially since salary isn’t the only thing that motivates job seekers. If money isn’t the most important factor for the candidate, and you know your offer is competitive, then negotiating a counter-offer is the logical next step. Reiterate the benefits you are offering, and emphasize aspects of the role that resonate most with the candidate, like upward mobility or learning new skills. If you can absorb some of the candidate’s commuting cost, or if you’re flexible with work-from-home arrangements, this is the time to remind them.
examine your hiring timeline.
If you’re not an early bird, you won’t get a lot of worms, even when you’re a candidate’s first choice. It takes an average of six weeks to fill an open position, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and that’s longer than the best and brightest want to wait. If you’re taking weeks — or worse, months — after your first interview to make an offer, then you’re going to miss out on in-demand talent in today’s competitive market. Look for ways to expedite the process so you can make offers quickly.
evaluate your candidate experience.
When a candidate says “no,” it’s a perfect time to ask for feedback about their experience. First impressions count for a lot, and you never know if there was a small detail or two that was enough to turn the candidate off. Did they feel rushed through the interviews? Were their questions not sufficiently answered? Were the responsibilities, goals and expectations of the position not made clear? It’s disappointing to lose out on great talent, but it’s also an opportunity to refine your process to give future candidates an excellent — and lasting — impression.
leave the door open.
For all you know, the decision to take another offer was a coin flip for the candidate, and they still have a glowing impression of you. Strengthen that impression by being professional and wishing them well in your response. It’s fine to say that you’re disappointed, but being gracious while saying so is always the best policy. If you think the candidate is truly the perfect person for the job, then there’s nothing wrong with asking to stay in touch in case things change for either side. You never know — six months from now, that candidate may have second thoughts about their decision to go elsewhere, and you might be able to make a more generous offer.
seek help from the experts.
When you partner with seasoned experts for your staffing needs, you can benefit from years of recruiting, interviewing and hiring experience, in addition to an extensive network of talent. And with resources like our Salary Guide to help you determine if you’re paying the going rate for positions, plus our Interview Guide to coach you along the hiring process, we’ve created many ways to help you reach — and hire — the best of the best.