Everything you need to know about making offers you can learn from The Godfather. Yeah, I know that is a loose reference to the chick flick You’ve Got Mail, but I am man enough to admit that I dig that movie and other chick flicks like Serendipity and Say Anything. I digress.
Recently, my esteemed colleague – errr – partner in talent crime, Kris Dunn talked about hiring managers’ ability to sell offers to candidates. If you missed it, shame on you and you should immediately go here and read it. In fact, you need to read that post and the comments before reading this one. Think of it as sort of a pre-requisite to this post. I mean it. Go ahead…really, I’ll wait!
Are you back? Great! Essentially I agree with Kris in his observations, but I take issue with the word “sell” when it comes to the recruitment process and the offer. Yeah, I am a big fan of Glengarry Glen Ross, and I understand and buy into the synergy between recruiting and the sales world. That said, there is a difference between the recruiter as a sales agent and recruiter as a needs-based sales consultant. If you find yourself in a position of having to sell the offer, then you have likely already lost the candidate. Additionally, if you sell and do push through to sign the candidate, there is a high likelihood the candidate comes into your organization feeling as though they were sold rather than choosing the opportunity based on their needs.
So what can you do to avoid being in a position of selling the offer?
1. Execute a better recruiting call. Most recruiting calls suck. Yes, suck! I have a voice mail hall of shame of bad recruiting calls. It is both amusing and sad. Recruiting calls today are so full of sales jargon and lingo it makes candidates feel dirty when they hang up the phone. Last year my firm, Bearing Fruit Consulting, conducted a survey of 517 mid-level and senior level professionals and executives across multiple industries in the U.S. When asked how they feel when they get a call from a headhunter, the top two answers were versions of “dirty” and “like I was talking to a telemarketer”. To keep it brief, most recruiting calls sound like telemarketing because they are pitching jobs without knowing the candidate, and they are in sell mode rather than consult mode. The call is made under the disguise of helping the candidate, but all the recruiter talks about is their company, their job and/or their client. If you want to learn more about this and how to execute a better recruiting call you can listen to this.
2. Uncover the Career Wound. No matter how good of a recruiter you are, you can never get the best passive talent to move without identifying, uncovering and having a remedy for their career wound. Without doing this, you will forever be in selling mode as a recruiter. The Career Wound is something in the candidate’s current situation that they would like to change in order for them to make a job change. Sometimes there are multiple career wounds. Every candidate, and I mean EVERY candidate, has one. It is the recruiter’s job to uncover it, show it to the candidate (repeatedly, by the way) and offer a remedy for it. In doing this, you become a consultant and not a sales person. You have to uncover the key career wound a candidate will use to choose a new opportunity or make a move. You make the recruiting call and the recruiting process about THEM and not about YOU. Once the wound is uncovered and validated, and the decision making criteria is understood, the recruiter no longer has to sell. The opportunity and the company either DOES or DOES NOT remedy the career wound and address the candidate’s decision making criteria.
3. Debriefing and Conditional Invitations. At different steps in the recruitment process you need to stop and debrief with the candidate. Each debrief should be structured to gain understanding of what the candidate is experiencing and what information they need to move forward in the process. Before you advance a candidate to the next phase of the recruitment process, you gain acceptance on key parts of the offer as a condition of moving forward. If they can’t commit to that aspect of the offer, then you have to be able to find out what the source of their discomfort is, then either get it resolved or be willing to push the candidate away. Candidates often make decisions without having all the information they need to really decide. Asking candidates at multiple points in the process what information they need to move to the next step helps the recruiter to maintain control. With this ground covered, once you get to a formal offer, all the key elements are already locked down like a penitentiary and the offer will be accepted.
There is so much more to this than these 3 recommendations, but it’s a start. In the end, if you truly consult with talent and execute these simple recommendations, you will have fewer (dare I say “0”?) offers declined because you will never make an offer without knowing it will be accepted. Great recruiters and hiring managers don’t play guessing games and selling games when making an offer. They maintain careful candidate control, pull candidates through the process with information and conditional invitations, and address career wounds and decision making criteria well in advance of extending an offer.
Don’t make offers that will get refused!
Michael Homula is the founder of Bearing Fruit Consulting, a national recruiting consulting firm based out of Michigan. Prior to founding BFC, Michael served as a Director of Recruiting/Talent Management for multiple companies in the Financial Services industry. Like children in Sparta, Michael was cast out into the wilderness at age 7, and was only allowed to return after he had made his first 100 fills as a full life-cycle recruiter..