7 Benefits of Never Making an Offer Unless Certain of Acceptance

If there is one commandment hiring managers and recruiters must keep sacred, it is this: NO offer will ever go out without the certainty it will be accepted. Regardless of how fantastic your recruiting software is, and how great you think the “fit” is, making sure your candidate will accept is critical to client satisfaction.

There is no way to fall from grace faster in the eyes of your client than to have a few candidates turn down fair offers.  It may be one of the last recruiting commandments you break with a particular customer.

We are trying to win in a candidate-driven playing field.  Current demographic and economic trends mean top talent can choose their teams carefully.  Impact players—from salespeople to CEOs—can receive multiple job offers, with plenty of time to think about them.

This workforce reality is fraught with potential unpleasant repercussions for our industry.  We must work hard to retain control of the hiring process, keeping it out of the hands of candidates, or we’re not doing our jobs.  That means pre-closing every candidate all along the hiring process and specifically before the final interview.

I had a longtime client in Chicago retain me to place a hard-to-find Manager of Systems Engineering.  After a three-week search, I narrowed the candidate pool to three outstanding people.  I pre-closed two of them, but not the third.  At the conclusion of the interview process, my client decided to extend an offer to the third candidate.

This started a chain reaction I’ve never forgotten: the candidate turned them down flat and my client promptly fired me.  I was taken aback, but I understood the frustration of that hiring manager.  I had broken an important commandment, and it shattered the trust and control I had worked so hard to establish.

Recruiters are not just highly paid resume pushers.  We are professional matchmakers who must manage the entire hiring process from conducting an in-depth needs analysis to a 30-days-on-the-job assessment.

Not only do we find, attract, and hire hidden “A” players, we take care of every detail therein.  And we must understand and address every need, issue, objection, and pre-close along the way.

In my office, we keep the commandment.  No offer ever goes out without the certainty it will be accepted.  This forces us to completely qualify and pre-close candidates and hiring managers before the final interview.  Since I’ve instituted this policy and trained my team to honor it, we have seen many positive benefits.

Seven benefits of never making an offer without being certain of its acceptance are as follows:

  1. We save face.  Zero turndowns on written offers.
  2. We eliminate any last-minute objections or concerns.  All are addressed prior to the final interview.
  3. We save time.  Minimal back-and-forth negotiations.
  4. We close.  Because it happens earlier in the sales process.
  5. We retain control of the process.
  6. We save trees!  No unneeded paperwork goes out if it isn’t a sure thing.
  7. We are loved by both clients and candidates.

It’s not difficult to adhere to this policy.  But it requires a confident and pro-active approach from recruiters and hiring managers.

Make sure you set expectations with candidates early and often in the search process.  Let them know what the consequences will be for non-compliance.  It may sound harsh, but the clearer you are, the less room there is for confusion and deal-breaking behavior.

You and any candidate should agree upon the basics, including communication time frames, the hiring process, a policy of openness and honesty, and the “commit number”—the salary the recruiter can accept on a candidate’s behalf before the final interview.

If you wait until the end of the process to obtain a firm commit number, you will encounter the dreaded commit number creep.  This phenomenon occurs when a candidate’s commit number continues to rise due to positive feedback received over the course of the hiring process.

Prevent this unprofessional, unacceptable, and predictable creep from getting into your search.  Get the commit number as early as possible in the search process!

Time and again, I’ve benefited from other recruiters’ reluctance to pre-close candidates.  I was recently retained for a Senior Vice President search by one of the largest super regional banks.

When I conducted the needs analysis for the position, I discovered the bank had already offered the position to four individuals and been turned down four times.  They had been working with a recruiter who could find the talent, but who could NOT pre-close the candidates to save his life.

The bank fired him because it simply could no longer afford the frustration, time, and expense of one rejection after another.

Don’t be that recruiter.

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Jon Bartos, a guest writer for the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog, is a premier writer, speaker, and consultant on all aspects of personal performance, human capital, and the analytics behind them.  In 2010, Bartos founded Revenue Performance Management, LLC.  The RPM Dashboard System is a business intelligence tool used worldwide for metrics management for individual and team performance improvement.  In 2012, Bartos achieved national certification in Hypnotherapy, furthering his interest in learning the dynamics behind what motivates others to achieve higher levels of success.  Click here to visit Bartos’s website.