You’ve found a great candidate that you love and you're ready to make an offer when a major client puts a big project on hold for a few weeks. How do you talk through this unexpected hiring delay? How do you keep your perfect candidate "warm" and discourage him from looking for other opportunities for a few more weeks? Here are 4 ways to keep a candidate interested if you’re not quite ready to hire:
#1: Communicate Openly & Offer Reassurance
Offer as much transparency as possible, letting him know that the holdup has nothing to do with his candidacy or with screening more applicants. Remind him why you're the best in your industry and outline the perks, benefits, and future opportunities that come with the job. If the delay is a budgetary reason, think about how to position the delay to keep him from questioning job stability and the outlook of the company. For example, try explaining that a major project is delayed and you think the best opportunities for training will align with the start of that project. Reconfirm your intent to hire him as soon as the project is ready so he doesn't question whether he is still competing with others for the job.
#2: Manage Timing Expectations
Give him an idea of what he can expect from a timing standpoint. Open communication is a great first step, but in order to maintain loyalty you want to let him know when he can expect to hear from you with an update about where things stand. For example, if you need to wait for your new client's contract to officially come through and that's 4 weeks away, then let him know. Mark your calendar to give him an update after 2 weeks and then again after 4 (hopefully with an offer). Remember, there is a shortage of talent in many fields right now (specifically technology, finance, and healthcare) and you will most certainly have competition for qualified candidates. You always want to snap up great people as quickly as possible and building a relationship by wisely managing timing expectations is a true differentiator (trust us) in comparison with other companies.
#3: Keep Reminding Him Why Your Company is "The One"
While time passes, do everything in your power to remind your candidate why you're a great choice. If your company or industry gets news coverage, share it immediately. If there are internal newsletters, blogs, or other materials that you can share, send them. Make sure your candidate knows that you are thinking of him and subtly continuing to "sell" him on what's great about your workplace. This not only reinforces a choice of companies (yours) but also of managers (you). Studies indicate that people leave MANAGERS, not companies. Logic dictates that the same is true of why people go to a new employer. Differentiate yourself as someone who cares and shares information, especially while there is a timing gap. Follow up frequently to demonstrate that you're doing your best to keep him engaged and updated.
#4: Respond Promptly
If he leaves you a voicemail or sends an email, it's extremely important to close the loop. While checking in regularly lets you remind him how excited you are for him to join your team, evaluating whether he responds also helps you determine if he's still a warm lead. If you sense his enthusiasm is fading or your touch base calls and emails are not promptly returned, that's a strong indication that your candidate is losing interest. You may need to develop a backup strategy.
Great employees are almost always working and if they’re in the job market, you can rest assured they won’t be there very long. If you like them, then someone else probably does too. The key to holding on to great talent is to be able to articulate undeniable reasons why you are the best choice as an employer. Once you've hooked a candidate on your company, you can maintain interest and commitment by being open about your process, setting reasonable expectations, and following up regularly. You’ll be delivering that offer letter in no time.
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