Making Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Consider the average job search process from a typical candidate’s perspective.

They’re interested, for whatever reason, in attaining a new job. It could be because they’re fresh out of school and eager to enter the workforce, because they’re unhappy in their current role, because they’re returning to the workforce after an absence of some kind, or because they’re simply interested in advancing their career prospects.

They start looking for job opportunities and, as they find some that seem to align with their needs and interests, they send off letters of application and resumes, or apply through online portals.

Then they wait.

At some point, hopefully, they begin to get opportunities to interview—maybe, initially, via phone or video, or maybe in person. They meet with the company for one, two or more cycles of interviews and then they wait some more.

Sometimes the potential employer will let them know if they’re no longer in consideration (although these employers are in the minority). Those that are most qualified will rise to the top of the list and eventually receive a job offer. Too often, these offers are rejected.

As John Zappe, contributing editor for, points out in an article for ERE, there are two big reasons that job offers are rejected. They’re either too low, or too slow.

Research from CareerBuilder backs him up. Their research indicates that:

  • 29 percent reject an offer because the compensation/benefit package didn’t meet expectations (too low)
  • 39 percent of candidates reject an offer because they’ve already accepted another offer (too slow)

The first issue can be addressed by ensuring that each position has been evaluated and compared both internally and externally to ensure equity and competitiveness. With a proliferation of salary surveys and data available today, there’s no excuse for not knowing—precisely—how your salary and benefits packages stack up against other organizations. Beyond that, it’s a matter of deciding how your organization wants to be positioned in the jobs marketplace—on the low end, middle of the road, or best in class. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these positions. It’s important, though, to recognize the implications of your chosen position on the likelihood of job offers being accepted by job candidates, particularly top candidates.

The second issue can be more challenging. The larger the company, the slower the hiring process can be. With more people involved, and more decision points to be managed, time just seems to move inexorably forward. Lulled by their own standard processes, HR pros and hiring managers can become complacent, thinking: “This is just how long it takes.”

Okay, but if your hiring process takes longer than the processes used by other employers competing for the same talent pool—even just slightly longer—you’re at a disadvantage. Considering the cost of recruiting and hiring in terms (out-of-pocket costs, staff time, lost opportunity costs, productivity declines, etc.), and the value of landing the best candidates available, there’s good reason to try to shave as much time off the process as possible.

What to do? The following steps can help shorten the process significantly:

  • Have a process! If each open position requires the development of a process and approach that may vary from the last time someone was hired, the process is not likely to be as efficient as possible. Outline the steps in the process and commit them to writing. Communicate these steps to those involved in the process.
  • As part of this process, be sure to include a cut-off date for accepting applications. One factor that can add significant time to the hiring process is when there is no cut-off date and applications continue to trickle in and bog down the decision-making process.
  • Evaluate the process regularly with an eye toward continuous process improvement. Over time processes of any kind tend to become bloated as new steps and checkoff points are added. Some of these may be unnecessary. Review your processes with an eye toward eliminating any steps that don’t add value to the process but, instead, serve to add time.
  • Instill a sense of urgency into the process for all involved. Communicate to hiring managers (and HR staff) why it’s important to move as efficiently as possible through the hiring process to help ensure an accepted offer. Hold all accountable for moving the process forward efficiently.
  • Track your metrics! If you don’t know how long it currently takes from application to offer, you won’t know whether, or to what extent, you’re able to improve your outcomes.
  • Debrief. After every offer—whether accepted or rejected—conduct a debriefing of the process seeking feedback from HR, the hiring manager—and the employee/potential employee. That feedback can be invaluable as you work to continually improve, and shorten, the time to offer.

If you’re interested in boosting the odds that your job offers will be accepted, focus on the two primary drivers of rejected offers: too low and too slow. Chances are you’ll quickly see an improvement in your efforts.

Making Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse
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