4 Ways to Avoid a Candidate Offer Rejection

Making an offer to your candidate should be the most rewarding part of your job. By this point, you’ve done all the necessary legwork, and now it's time to bring in the good news: a new job for the candidate, a new hire for the client, and a fee for all your hard work.

BUT we all know it doesn’t always work out that way.

Sometimes, you pick up the phone and suddenly your candidate has had a change of heart, sending you back to the drawing board.

Situations like this are expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating for both you and your client. So what can a recruiter do to avoid this sticky situation?

Try taking the following four steps with your candidates before you make an offer:

1. Talk about counter-offers

Problem: Despite everything they've been advised, candidates will still court counter-offers.

Sometimes, it’s the allure of an increased salary that pushes them, or maybe the new offer initiates a conversation with their current employer that they were unable or unwilling to have previously.

Either way, it puts your placement in jeopardy right at the final stage.

Solution: When you first speak to a candidate, go a step further than asking why they’re moving on. Did they speak to a manager about their concerns? How would they feel if their employer was suddenly ready to discuss a resolution as soon as the resignation came?

Having this discussion early on will give you space to address the feelings your candidate may have about a counter-offer before it happens. Make it clear how your opportunity offers an immediate improvement and, if necessary, tactfully explain why a counter-offer may not be as good as it sounds.

2. Under-promise and over-deliver on salary

Problem: You agreed on a salary range with the candidate and with the client. In an ideal world, your work is done – but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Whether it’s down to another offer, pressure from friends and family, or a simple change of heart, candidates will sometimes hesitate to accept a salary they’d previously agreed on.

Solution: Whenever possible, pre-close the candidate on a salary lower than your client will offer. This means the final offer should be a pleasant surprise for the candidate. Equally, try to set salary expectations slightly higher with your client a) so that they feel they’ve received good value too and b) to give you the option to press for a little more if your best candidate is still hesitant.

3. Lay out concrete plans for progression

Problem: The best candidates don’t just want a new job; they want a future. They’re interested in where the new role will lead, and may be anxious about being left in the same position or salary for too long.

Solution: Aim to commit your client to a 6-month performance review with the candidate where salary and responsibilities can be discussed again. Mention it as part of your offer so the candidate understands that you and the client care about making a future for them in the company.

Did you know personal development opportunities are the second biggest pull factor for candidates considering a job move?

4. Get a commitment on notice, and follow up

Problem: The offer call seemed to go fine. Your candidate accepted, you outlined start dates, you confirmed by email. Then comes the ultimate embarrassment: they didn’t show up on the start date.

Solution: Always ask the candidate when they intend to hand in their notice. Get them to commit to a date then call them on that day to find out how it went. This should give the candidate some moral support with a difficult situation as well as avoid a situation where you and your client are left exposed.

Have you had to deal with any offer rejections recently? What were your candidate’s reservations, and did you manage to resolve them? How?  Let us know in the comments!

How to manage a candidate job offer

Ailsa Partridge

Ailsa is a technical writer and solutions engineer working at Instructure in London.

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