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  • Bernadette Harrison

Successfully closing the deal with candidates in a competitive market and booming economy

In highly competitive industries such as digital or technology, and banking and financial institutions, as well as during times of economic growth, it is more of a candidate's job market. Candidates often have many opportunities which unfortunately can lead to some disingenuous or even spurious behaviour by some candidates, often motivated solely by financial gains. Even for those candidates who are transparent about their job searching activities, hiring organizations often have to strenuously compete with numerous other organizations for talent.


In some cases, it may be inevitable that in order to secure top talent, you may have to engage in negotiations, go back with a more attractive offer or may still lose the candidate to a competing offer. There are, however, some things hiring organizations can do to mitigate this risk in order to hire the best talent for the position:

  1. Throughout the entire recruitment process, always put your organization's best foot forward. You should always be in 'sell mode', promoting your organization and making highly positive, engaging peers and champions part of the hiring process. By working with the right talent acquisition partner, that partner can also be an instrumental brand ambassador for the hiring organization during the recruitment process.

  2. Prior to a verbal offer, there should be no surprises. The hiring organization should know exactly what the candidate's salary/OTE expectations are, together with other compensation, paid time off and other similar expectations. They should also know early on in the recruitment process whether the candidate is close to an offer with a competing organization.

  3. Once a decision has been made to proceed with an offer, the hiring organization should not just settle on one candidate, but should have at least one or two second choices. For competitive positions or during times of economic growth, it is very common for candidates to have multiple job offers. Additionally, some candidates can be disingenuous about how far along they are in the recruitment stages with a competing organization. While in some instances you may be the successful hiring organization, in other instances, another organization may be successful. Therefore, be prepared to have second choice candidates kept warm.

  4. Before proceeding with a written offer, provide the candidate with a verbal offer, asking them to provide you with a verbal acceptance. Again, in times of economic growth or high demand positions, it is imperative that you close quickly with the candidate. Give the candidate a deadline of when you need a verbal response from them, which should not be more than a day or two in most circumstances.

  5. Once the candidate has provided you with a verbal acceptance of your offer, be prepared to have the written offer ready and delivered to the candidate as soon as possible, and ideally that day. In today's competitive environment, we have seen numerous hiring organizations lose a terrific candidate because they did not close the deal with the candidate quickly enough. In many of these cases, the written offer was sent several days after the candidate's verbal acceptance. These organizations learned the hard way, that in competitive markets, candidates don't wait. So if there is a lot of daylight -- and by "a lot", I mean more than one day, maybe two -- between a verbal offer and the written offer, hiring organizations may be quite disappointed to learn that the candidate, even though they accepted verbally, had nonetheless accepted a written offer from a competing organization. Bottom line, if you want the best candidates, you have to be prepared to move swiftly.

  6. Definitely have an expiry date in the written offer letter, again ideally within a day or two, and advise the candidate that the offer itself is confidential, as well as all the offer details. Again, we have seen numerous instances where candidates will attempt to play an offer against a competing organization's offer, or take it to their current employer and try to use it as a bargaining chip to get a pay increase or a promotion. By having an expiry date, it limits a candidate's ability to try to shop it around the street.

  7. Depending on the circumstances or the position, where a candidate advises you that they have a competing offer, you may want to continue to pursue the candidate and negotiate with them. Again, be prepared to continue to sell them on the organization and the position by bringing in senior management or other influential players. We have had countless highly competitive candidates, who otherwise would have accepted a competing offer, accept our clients' offers because our clients stayed the course in "sell" mode and brought in some heavy hitters to close the deal. Like it or not, many of the best candidates are, needless to say, in high demand, so you can't take it personally that they may not initially accept your offer, and it may take some effort on your part to convince them that your organization has the most to offer.

  8. For competitive positions or during economic upswings, if at all possible avoid requesting the candidate sign a non-compete. While for some senior management positions, non-competes are necessary and advisable, but for many lower level positions, it is often unnecessary, costly and difficult to enforce, and presents an obstacle that in-demand candidates may not be willing to sign if competing offers don't require one.

  9. Finally, studies show that candidates continue to put weight on the "after-hire" and on-boarding process, so ensure that you continue to engage with the incumbent after they accept your offer, especially if they don't officially come on board for several weeks after acceptance. Of equal importance, make sure you have a highly successful on-boarding process to ensure the incumbent has the best possible opinion of the organization at the earliest stages. This will ensure greater engagement and get the employment relationship off on the right foot.

By taking these steps, your organization will have more success in hiring the best talent, rather than losing them to the competition.

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