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This blog article, submitted by Elizabeth Trcka, Skywalk Group Partner, is the final recruiting topic for the month of November. Next month we will round out the year with entertaining and informational blog articles from our Skywalk Group team.
How to best prepare and ensure that your job offer will be accepted. No surprises!
To reach an offer acceptance by a candidate, there should be no surprises once you are ready to extend the offer. Keep in mind, the offer process starts from the minute you engage a potential candidate. By constantly asking qualifying questions, pre-closing the candidate, and keeping the client informed, you can minimize the risk of investing countless hours and resources in a candidate who declines an offer.
Gather information throughout the recruiting process
One of the most common mistakes in job offers is there was not enough information gathering and giving early in the process. As a result, candidates are surprised by compensation, location, start date and a wide variety of other factors.
During the recruiting process, make it a conscious effort to gather the key data points during the initial conversations. A couple of must have’s;
- Last 2 -3 year’s W2 income
- Percentage of income from base and bonus
- Expected income for next job—base and bonus
- Ability and willingness to commute to the office (if required)
- If relocation is necessary, the expected costs and/or components (moving expenses, home sale, breaking a lease, etc) involved for the candidate
- Desired start date
As you collect this data, you should also be giving the same information back to the candidate. Confirm that the compensation is within available range, that the relocation needs are within budget, and that the desired start date matches the company’s needs. If one of the data points is out of line with your expectations, discuss it then. You do not always need to resolve the difference then, but make sure it is widely known before the decision to move forward is made.
The final part of doing your homework is learning the candidate’s selling points. Why are they interested in the position? What are their long-term career goals? What kind of corporate culture do they prefer? Start documenting the data points that will allow you to build a compelling sales pitch when the time comes to negotiate and close the candidate.
Most important is to document the information. All of this information should be a) collected, and b) confirmed more than once during the phone screening, initial interviews and final interviews. It never hurts to say “When we spoke on November 15th we discussed a salary range of $65,000 to $70,000—is this still what you are thinking?” It lets the candidate know that you are paying attention, which is both reassuring and reduces any urge to renegotiate late in the game.
Pre-close the candidate
Through the interviewing process, you should be continuing to 1) collect the necessary data, 2) confirm accuracy, and 3) begin to lay the groundwork for your sales pitch. Remember the ABC’s—Always Be Closing.
Pre-closing a candidate is the step that has the most impact on the acceptance rates of job offers, and is one often skipped. Once you think you feel the candidate has a legitimate chance of receiving an offer, make the pre-closing call. The goal is to outline the details of an offer, but be very clear that this is a confirmation of the candidate’s interest and not a verbal offer.
Begin by saying you and the group/company have not made a final decision to extend an offer, but you think they are a strong candidate and would like to talk through the details of what an offer may look like. Recap the information you have documented—compensation, salary/bonus, location, desired start date. Then walk through the same points with ranges of the offer. Highlight and discuss any discrepancies between your expectations and the candidates. A couple of sample questions you may want to use include:
- If we were to extend you an offer that looked like this, would you be interested in joining us?
- Are there any reasons why this offer would not be acceptable to you?
- Is this offer what you were hoping for? When would you be able to start?
- Have you discussed this opportunity with your family/partner/significant other or do you need more time to discuss it?
- Do you think your current company will give you a counter offer, and is there a chance you would stay?
All of these questions open opportunities for further discussion and gives you a better sense for where the candidate is in the decision making process. Once you get a feel for where you align and where you don’t, reiterate that there are other candidates in process and other considerations before making the formal offer. Wrap up the pre-closing conversation with a specific time when the candidate will hear from you with details on next steps. Again—not an offer, but “decisions on next steps”. Once that time and date are set, stick to it! Even a half-day’s delay sends the wrong message and puts you behind other competitive offers. Hopefully you will be calling with a formal offer, but at the very least you will call with an update and set a new time and date for follow-up.
Extending the offer
Once you have agreed internally to move forward with the offer, call the candidate at the time set previously or schedule a new time to talk with the candidate about next steps. While you want the conversation to be natural and comfortable, one potential outline and structure for the conversation would be:
- Start out with the good news—“We’d like to formally extend you an offer!”
- Tell them what you are going to tell them—set the agenda of the conversation
- Sell the opportunity and alignment with the candidate’s goals, which by now you have already discussed in detail:
-Start by describing the immediate impact the candidate will make
-Discuss the long-term opportunities for the candidate
-Highlight the company’s strengths—growth, vision, culture, etc
- Create a direct link between the candidate’s previously stated career and personal goals and the job
- Discuss the details of the offer. Specifically address any areas where the offer does not meet the candidate’s requests or issues discussed in the pre-closing call.
- Ask for feedback
-If the candidate is satisfied with the details, ask for a verbal acceptance—“So if you are good with the offer and this is a verbal acceptance, I’ll put together the formal offer letter and get it out to you.” (There is no reason to send the offer if you do not have a verbal acceptance.)
-If the candidate has remaining questions or would like time to consider the offer, identify the areas of concern. In many cases, the candidate will want something on paper—offer to outline the details of what the offer would be in an email rather than send out the formal offer letter
- Once the candidate has verbally accepted:
-Prepare the candidate for a counter offer, if relevant. Walk them through how they will respond to a counter offer from the current employer—remind them why they are leaving and address what they will likely offer them to stay. The loyalty of a candidate that accepts a counter offer will always be in question by the employer.
-Discuss next steps and timeline. Let them know when the offer will go out and how long they have to accept. Always set a deadline for formal written acceptance—we recommend a deadline of less than 3 business days, with 1-2 days being preferable. If you have done your pre-closing work, this should be a formality and should not require much consideration.
-Let them know the formal paperwork will be sent, and make sure they have it in their hands within 24 hours. Whenever possible, email a PDF version of the offer letter or overnight the offer packet to the candidate.
- Final steps
-Follow up with the candidate to make sure they received the paperwork and everything is in order.
-Always require the offer letter to be signed and returned by the date specified. It may seem obvious, but we have had clients in the past just send out the letter and wait for the candidate to show up on the first day with the signed paperwork. Not surprisingly, they had an abnormally high rate of candidates back out of their offers, accept competitor’s offers or just never show up to work.
-Once the offer is in-hand, the recruiter or hiring manager should follow up with the candidate at least once a week until the start date. The longer the time period between acceptance and start, the greater the risk of the candidate backing out.
- Check in and follow up. Be sure to check in with the candidate the first week to see how things are going. If there is any disconnect between the candidate’s expectations and reality, you want to identify them quickly.
Anyone who has spent months recruiting the perfect candidate only to have it unravel at the last minute understands the importance of a smooth negotiation and closing process. Given the amount of resources required to attract the right candidate, the process of negotiating and extending a job offer is often overlooked and undervalued. However, by following a few guidelines and best practices, you can drastically reduce the risk of losing a candidate at the offer stage.
For many HR professionals, November through January is typically the busiest time of the year. True to Skywalk Group’s drive to meet the customer’s need, we are keeping this blog article to a 5-minute read or less. Below are a few quick tips to improve the selection process for identifying winning talent for your organization. But don’t forget! During the month of November, participants who register for the December 1st Hiring Winning Talent Public Workshop will receive a complimentary job analysis and complete behavioral interview guide to get their hiring process moving in the right direction.
Start with a Good Profile
Start with a good job description, including specifications about the knowledge, skills and abilities, and any personal characteristics the candidate will need to possess before they start. A good profile is the basis for identifying qualified and quality candidates in the application and interview process. The more detailed the profile, the better chance you have of walking away from the process with winning talent.
Don’t Rely on the Interview Alone
An interview is a natural part of the selection process. It’s human nature to want to meet and ask questions to a potential candidate, but relying on the interview alone can be misleading. A selection process should be built around several weighted factors, including screening tools such as professional references, aptitude tests, and background screens.
Typically the interview is seen to be the time for the employer to evaluate the interviewee. The interviewee’s need to observe the organization and its people and culture is often overlooked, however. Failing to provide an honest perspective of the company and the opportunity under consideration can lead to early dissatisfaction and even turnover from a new employee. Provide candidates with a realistic perspective of what to expect before accepting an offer through job previews and opportunities to speak with current employees.
Has the recruiting and selection process overwhelmed your organization’s staffing resources? The Skywalk Group Recruiting Team would like to become a part of your team, providing expert recruiting techniques to source and identify winning talent for your organization. to learn more.
We are following up our Behind the Curtain of Resume Screening blog article with another recruiting topic. This article is provided by Skywalk Group HR Generalist, Donita Sanderson. And, as an additional reminder, don’t forget to take advantage of this month’s offer. During the month of November, participants who register for the December 1st Hiring Winning Talent Public Workshop will receive a complimentary job analysis and complete behavioral interview guide to get their hiring process moving in the right direction.
Unless an employer is willing to take the risk to hire a candidate based on a resume alone, interviewing is a standard part of the hiring process. If you have ever started a new job, it’s safe to say that you’ve participated in at least one interview. Like the majority of interviews, it was likely a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation with a hiring manager, human resources, and/or member of the hiring department.
As with any commonly held practice, there are always opportunities for enhancements or improvements. With technology advancements and tightened recruiting budgets, now is a good time to consider trying a new interview technique in your organization.
LIVE, VIRTUAL INTERVIEWS
Problem: Your offices are located in Iowa and your short list of candidates live in Ohio and Wyoming. You’ve completed phone interviews, but your budget doesn’t allow for both candidates to fly in for a face-to-face interview.
Solution: Live,Virtual Interviews. With a number of web video software options available, like Skype or iChat, a web camera and the appropriate free software creates an instant interview platform. If a candidate doesn’t have a web camera, just drop one in the mail a couple days ahead of the interview. Live, virtual interviews offer a more personal and interactive interview solution without incurring the expense of travel.
Problem: The position will interact with several departments and you’d like to have a representative from each department interview the candidate. Based on the number of interested parties, one-on-one interviews would take all day.
Solution: The Panel Interview. Although not a new technique for many larger organizations, panel interviews are a time-efficient and cost-effective option. Rather than having a candidate meet with several individuals on a one-on-one basis, candidates are interviewed by multiple decision makers simultaneously.
Panel interviews have the advantage of reducing the number of redundant questions asked by interviewers. In addition, each interviewer on the panel hears and evaluates the same response. Caution should be taken to ensure the panel is not too large and is well structured.
Problem: One-on-one and panel interviews provide a good picture of the candidate’s skills, but often fail to provide insight into the candidate’s interpersonal skills in a work environment.
Solution: The Fishbowl Interview. Ideal for managers and individuals who will need to work on cross-functional teams, the fishbowl interview allows the interviewers to observe the candidate at work in a team environment.
During a fishbowl interview a candidate and group of internal employees are given a hypothetical (or real) business challenge. The team and its new team member must interact to provide a recommendation on how to resolve the challenge by the end of the exercise. The fishbowl interview allows team members and observers to experience the candidate first hand during a decision-making event.
If it is time to give your interview process a much-needed boost or the recruiting budget isn’t as plush as it once was, consider testing and implementing a new interview technique, like those listed above, which will address the unique needs of the organization.
We will be spending our blogging time this month on recruiting–covering topics such as resume screening, interviewing trends, making employment offers, and more. Katie Sackett, Skywalk Group Recruiter, has collaborated with some of her fellow recruiting team members to identify and share some of the most important criteria our team utilizes when screening resumes. During the month of November, participants who register for the December 1st Hiring Winning Talent Public Workshop will receive a complimentary job analysis and complete behavioral interview guide to get their hiring process moving in the right direction. Also, if you feel like your organization is “new hire challenged”, participate in our New Hire Research Project.
One of my favorite parts of my job at Skywalk Group is recruiting for new positions. It is challenging and fun trying to identify the best candidates for our client’s organizations in terms of experience, knowledge and “fit.” But before we bring anyone in for interviews, we have dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of resumes to sort through. As a result, it is important to utilize some good screening tools and processes that make the process as efficient and effective as possible.
Resume Database Management
As recruiting experts, we utilize a resume database to efficiently process and search resumes for open positions. Many companies have transitioned to some version of resume database management in order to improve the candidate screening process. Our resume database management tool allows us to do the following things in an efficient manner:
- Search for key words, job titles, and more. Manually sifting through resumes can be a tedious, time consuming task. With advanced search features, we are able to immediately identify all potential candidates for a position in a matter of minutes.
- Reach out to candidates. Again, once we have identified a list of potentially qualified candidates, we can email them to determine if any of them are interested in learning additional details about the open positions.
- Track correspondence and interactions with candidates. Probably one of the best features from the recruiter’s perspective is that all candidate history is housed within our database. If a candidate had an outstanding interview with a different recruiter but were maybe not a perfect fit for a previous position, that candidate may get moved to the top of the list for a different position that they are more qualified for.
Outside of the Database
The internet and social networking sites have opened up a world of candidate screening tools that previously were not available. Here are just a few of the tips and techniques that our recruiting team uses regularly:
- “Google” the candidates. This is an easy way to see what kind of information is available on any particular candidate.
- Review Linkedin profiles. Linkedin is a professsional networking site. This is a great tool for not only verifying information on a candidate’s resume but also finding additional candidates.
- Search other social networking sites. Unfortunately, in today’s world, privacy is difficult to come by. This creates a challenge for candidates but can be a great asset to recruiters.
- Good, old fashioned reference checks. You may be surprised to know that professional reference checks are still one of our favorite candidate screening tools. Reference checks help our team get a personal view of the candidate and answer any outstanding questions that may have arisen through other candidate screening techniques.
Finding good job candidates and screening resumes isn’t necessarily difficult. The reality is that it takes time, knowledge, and expertise to do the job well. Skywalk Group’s Recruiting Team can assist you in your hiring process.to learn more about how
Finding the right person to join your company takes more than an interview and a call to extend an offer. Behind the scene of a successful hire is a well-executed hiring process.
Elizabeth Trcka, Partner and Recruiting expert for Skywalk Group, led this month’s HR Training and Round Table. Her presentation, “How to Hire the Right Employee” focused on the essential components of a success recruiting strategy.
Three Steps to a Successful Recruiting Strategy
The Position Profile:
The first, and often overlooked, step is to build a position profile. Many stop at a list of duties and educational requirements. As Elizabeth pointed out, hiring the right employee goes beyond the job description to a more comprehensive understanding of the skills, credentials, and competencies your next employee must have in order to succeed. The more thorough your understanding, the better chance the hiring team will have of selecting the person who will ultimately thrive in the position and the company.
Participants were given a hands-on demonstration of the Job Analysis Consulting Tool (JACT), a tool developed by the Skywalk Group to identify the competency level and job behaviors necessary for a particular position. Completion of the JACT results in a set of statements that describe the behavioral characteristics critical to the position in question. These statements are then translated into behavioral-based interview questions designed to target the identified competency levels for either an individual contributor or manager level position.
Once the position is defined and has received approval to be filled, the next step in the recruiting strategy is to source candidates. Based on 2009 survey data from CareerXroads, employee referrals are still the most popular external referral source (26.7%), followed by career sites (22.3%) and job boards such as CareerBuilder or Monster (22.3%). However, sourcing from professional social media sites, like Linkedin or Twitter, is becoming increasingly popular.
Your candidate screening methods should create a pool of candidates who present the baseline technical and professional experience. Although every interview process can differ slightly, recruiters will often narrow the field with an initial phone screen to gage the candidate’s interest and fit for the position. The top two or three candidates are then invited to an on-site interview(s), to gather in-depth analysis of the candidate’s knowledge, technical skills, and experience. Companies may have candidates complete selection tools, such as personality, cognitive, or job skills tests, as a part of the hiring process.
Reference and Background Checks:
Once the perfect candidate is identified, professional references are checked and an offer is extended. The offer may be contingent on additional testing, such as a drug screen, criminal background checks, and/or physical examination.
If you are looking for someone with a significant amount of knowledge regarding recruiting and hiring trends both in The Corridor and nation-wide, Elizabeth Trcka, Skywalk Group Partner, is the answer.
If you don’t have time to read the full article, below you will find Elizabeth’s recruiting tips.
Use the following tips to find the best candidates for an opening:
- Remember your ABCs: Always Be Connecting.
- Use social media. Encourage key employees to network online. Sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be used as networking tools, in addition to letting people know about job opportunities.
- Have a good website: A good website can tell prospective employees a lot about a company. Be sure to include a visible, informative jobs or careers section.
- Use free job sites. Take advantage of Iowa Workforce Department’s Iowa Jobs, and other free sites such as Craigslist.
- Don’t forget networking. Put an employee referral plan in place to encourage employees to always think about potential new employees. Build relationships with local college career centers and task managers to always be scouting for talent.
Source:, partner at the Skywalk Group in Cedar Rapids
Also, if you are an organization that is currently hiring for critical positions in your company, take advantage of Skywalk Group’s May 2010 Job Analysis Consulting Tool offer.