Knowing how to close a candidate in recruitment is difficult enough, but when it’s a candidates’ market? That can be a special kind of headache.
The reasons for this difficulty in closing candidates are numerous. They include the following:
• Passive, A-level candidates are typically interviewing with more than one company.
• As a result, many of these candidates are expecting to receive more than one offer. (Your client’s offer is NOT the only show in town.)
• This makes the top candidates in the marketplace a little “wishy-washy” when it comes to accepting an offer.
Below are just some of the nightmare scenarios this kind of market can produce:
• The candidate wants to “take a few days to think about it.” What are they really doing? Waiting for the other offer they’re expecting to get. Then they’ll pick the one they like best.
• The candidate accepts the offer, but then calls back a few days later to say they’ve accepted an offer with another organization instead. So clearly, their words means the world to them.
• Or our personal favorite: the candidate accepts your client’s offer, but never shows up for work. That’s because they accepted another offer after accepting your client’s offer and they didn’t bother to tell you OR your client. So now not only did you lose a placement, but you also look less-than-stellar to your client.
See how all of this can produce a special kind of headache?
So the struggle is in learning how to convince a candidate to accept the offer.
Closing candidates in this kind of market can be like herding cats . . . or like trying to catch a chicken . . . or some other third animal analogy. The fact of the matter is that closing top candidates requires a strategic approach that’s planned well and executed even better.
Below are specific steps on how to close a candidate in recruitment . . . when it’s candidates’ market:
#1—Identify the REAL pain points early in the process.
Industry trainer Barb Bruno has formulated a great question for accomplishing this. She asks candidates, “What five things would you change if you were your boss?” It’s easy for somebody to simply say, “I want more money.” But to answer that question would take actual thought, and the answers given would be more specific and accurate than any others that you could get from the candidate. Now the candidate has given you everything you need to close them. (We’re assuming that they’re telling the truth, of course.)
#2—Pre-close the candidate using those pain points.
Basically, what you’re saying to them is this: “Okay, if I came across a position that addressed all five of these things that you’ve told me about, you would be willing to seriously consider it?” You’re accomplishing a couple of different things with this question:
• You’re verifying that these are the reasons they’d leave their current position for another opportunity.
• You’re setting expectations for the future. Then you can hold them accountable for those expectations. When you present an opportunity that addresses all of their pain points, you can say, “Remember when you gave me that list of five things? Well, today is your lucky day!”
This is a way of accurately determining the candidate’s sincerity and sense of urgency. If they’re just “kicking tires,” then they will screen themselves out of the process relatively quickly. They are not placement material. They are headache material.
#3—Keep closing throughout all stages of the process.
Once again, the sage wisdom of Barb Bruno applies here. She advocates asking this question every time you speak with a candidate in the placement pipeline: “Has anything changed since the last time we spoke?”
Do you really think that if something did change, the candidate would just offer that information up willingly? Let’s say they’ve decided they just want to stay with their current employer. Or that they’ve decided to give priority to other employment opportunities. Or that their wife has absolutely forbade them to pursue an opportunity that would require the family to relocate. No, they typically are not going to lead off the conversation with that piece of information.
In short: you must always gauge the candidate’s interest level while at the same time confirming and reconfirming their pain points and reasons for wanting to pursue a new opportunity. Once you do that, you can employ assumptive closing techniques to strengthen your recruiting process.
#4—Do everything you can to shorten the process.
We know it, you know it: time kills all deals. Top candidates only stay in the hiring process steps of a company for four weeks, max. After four weeks, your chances of closing them drops with each passing day. So it only makes sense that the shorter the process, the better. Yes, this will require some cooperation on the part of your client.
As a result, it will require some education on your part. You must convince your client that if the hiring process drags out, it will be more difficult to close the top candidates in the process. Specifically, you must convince them that shortening the process is in their own best interests. You’d think that would be easy to do, but you’d be wrong. Ask any recruiter who lost a placement last year because their client moved too slowly. Show of hands? Yep . . . just about everybody. Okay, hands down.
#5—Make the offer as soon as the client has decided that it wants to make the offer.
Once again, time is of the essence. As soon as the client wants to make the offer, contact the candidate to make the offer. It’s after five o’clock? Who cares? If the candidate is certain to entertain multiple offers, do you think the other company is going to hem and haw when offer time rolls around. Just like you must get quality candidates in front of decision makers as quickly as possible, you must get offers of employment in front of candidates as quickly as possible.
When you make the offer as quickly as you can, these things happen:
• You shorten the hiring process. (See #4.)
• You get the offer in front of the candidate before other offers can be put in front of the candidate.
• You make the candidate feel wanted. (See #7.)
All of these things increase the chances that you will close the candidate. They call it a “war for talent” for a reason. You have an offer on the table? Ready . . . aim . . . FIRE!
#6—“Sell the socks off” the offer.
The offer stage is not the part of the placement process where you kind of glide to the finish line. This is the most precarious part of the process. In other words, victory is NOT assured! Not only must you address their pain points (again), but you must do the following:
• Sell the offer.
• Sell the employment opportunity (again).
• Sell the allure of working for the organization (again).
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Sometimes you have to fight a battle more than once in order to win it.” Well, that’s exactly what it’s like when you’re closing a candidate under current market conditions. You have to close them, close them, and close them again.
#7—Make the candidate feel wanted.
This is where some organizations and recruiters can the upper hand over others. That’s because this is an intangible that’s absolutely necessary for candidates, especially those who fancy themselves at the top of their profession. Remember, when top candidates receive multiple offers, the level of compensation is almost always equal across the board. They command top dollar. They know they command top dollar.
What these candidates are interested in are the “tiebreakers,” those things that will tip the scale in one direction or another. And ALL candidates want to feel wanted. More than likely, they can get the money just about anywhere. But they can’t get that feeling of being wanted just about anywhere. This is the X factor that can push your client’s offer over the top. Once again, your client should be educated about this reality of the marketplace.
Can you 100% stop candidates from weaseling their way out of a commitment? Can you 100% stop them from going back on their word? Can you 100% stop them from outright lying to you?
No, you can not.
However, there are steps you can take that make it more difficult for them to do all of these things. And yes, not all candidates want to weasel their way out of a commitment. And yes, they don’t all want to lie to you.
But when it comes to the employment marketplace and job changes and compensation levels and relocation, life . . . can get tricky.
No matter how tricky it gets, though, you don’t deserve to be tricked out of your placement fee.
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