I've had the opportunity to lead recruiting for four different technology companies in San Francisco. Most of the roles our teams hired were in software engineering, business leadership, design and product. Competition for this type of talent is fierce—and not only in Silicon Valley.
When recruiting for top talent, it's important to recognize that these candidates often have many choices. We religiously tracked our offer acceptance rates and closed 90 percent of candidates to whom we offered the position.
Many factors influence the decisions top talent make during their job search. Below are some things you can control to help increase your odds of attracting the best of the best.
Be the Guide and Share the Map
Whether you're the executive, hiring manager or recruiter, chances are you've hired many candidates throughout your career. And you probably even have a system in place to take applicants from point A to Z.
However, most candidates change jobs about as often as most people purchase cars—only every few years. When they go through the process, it can feel like an emotional roller coaster full of adrenaline and insecurity.
Consider taking the time at the beginning to explain to the candidate what to expect throughout the hiring process and to lay out the rough timeline. This simple step can help put them at ease, build trust and reduce anxiety.
Confirm, Reconfirm and Reconfirm Again
Most hiring processes will have several touchpoints, including phone calls and in-person meetings. Consider treating each touchpoint as an opportunity to move from the outer edge of the dartboard to the bullseye by the offer stage. Your goal is to reduce surprises and align expectations throughout.
Try reconfirming specifics during these touchpoints. For example:
- Do they have other interviews? How aggressive is their search?
- What types of companies are they looking at? Are they similar to yours in size, role and growth?
- Do they have other offers yet? If so, what is their timeline?
- What are their criteria for evaluating other offers and opportunities?
Reconfirm their desired salary range, timeline and ideal role. This can also be a great time to ensure that the candidate has all of the information they need and has asked all of their important questions. The goal is to ask the tough questions earlier and reduce surprises on both sides when approaching the finish line.
Once you're ready to make an offer, you can leverage the following steps and questions I use to help reduce any surprises at the offer stage.
- First, ask them if they are ready to receive an offer.
- Use "if" statements, such as "If we are able to put an offer together with this type of package, would you accept it?"
- Ask them about a counteroffer scenario. For example: "If your current company gave you a counteroffer, would you accept it?" or "What type of counteroffer would you need to receive to stay with your company?"
- Find out who else is part of their decision-making process and what they think.
Consider being open and transparent at this time to help give yourself a leg up. If you do a weekly or monthly all-hands meeting, invite them! This can give the candidate an opportunity to peek underneath the hood, and more importantly, give them the feeling that they are already part of your team and able to celebrate milestones alongside their colleagues during the meeting.
Successfully Deliver the Offer and Post-Offer
You've done all the prep work. It's time for the final step—closing your candidate.
When constructing your offer, consider using the concept of levers. For example, you can provide one offer with high salary and low equity, and vice versa. Then when you present the offer, the candidate may be less likely to negotiate because you are putting them in the driver's seat and giving them a choice.
It's also beneficial to put yourself in their shoes and walk them through these final steps. Remember, this can be an exciting moment for them. If you've given the offer over the phone, let them know once they get back to you with a verbal acceptance on the offer structure that you'll send them the exact offer in writing—just as you spoke about it—for them to sign.
Once you have their signature, let them know that someone will be in touch to discuss onboarding, that you'll order their computer so it's ready on a specific date, etc.
Lastly, incorporating the rest of the team and company as the employee welcome wagon can go a long way.
You can send an email addressed to the candidate with the entire company cc'd. Congratulate them on accepting the offer and add a little blurb in the email about their background, their interests and their new role with the company. (This has been one of my favorite initiatives throughout the different companies I've been a part of.)
You can then invite the entire team to reply-all with welcome messages. This builds great momentum, and it's fun to be on the receiving end. The candidate gets to watch their inbox fill up with celebratory and welcome messages from their new colleagues.
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