Last Picked and Verbal Offers…

William Tincup Always Be Closing, Making Offers, William Uranga

I don’t recall ever being team captain in elementary school.  This isn’t some Generation X angst thing or a heads up for therapy – I just don’t have any memory of being grammar school deity during recess.  Perhaps you, along with me, were lined up on the white line, waiting to be picked, present, and willing to apply our energy and enthusiasm.  Sometimes we were picked last or not at all.  Soccer, kickball, basketball – you name it, the team captain made the selections, and the rest of us had to live with it for the next 10-30 minutes of recess.
The feelings that go along with being picked last (or not at all) stink.  Watch Dodgeball if you’ve forgotten, it’s a story of kids who were never picked.  As recruiters we a) visit these feelings on others when we decline candidates (I talk about this here) and b) we also get these feelings when our candidates decline us.  Yes, there are a myriad of factors that go into why we’re rejected, but there is one move that can reduce your chances of being declined: the verbal offer.

At my company, hiring managers used to be the ones to make the written offer.  It was pretty stressful.  Let’s face it, most hiring managers are good at what they do on a regular basis, but typically, making offers isn’t one of those things.   After experiencing enough rejections, my staffing team discussed moving the offer process to the recruiter.  However, it wasn’t just a mere transition.  Recruiters began extending offers to their top candidates in two steps, something along these lines:

1. After securing required signatures of approval, the recruiter would contact the candidate and say something like this, “Hi Jeanne.  We’d like to make you an offer, if you’re  ready to make a decision about this role in our company”  Do you have any other questions that need to be answered first so you can make a decision?”  If the candidate’s response is that they are ready to make a decision, then the recruiter would continue, “As I have mentioned earlier, we would like to make you a verbal offer of [offer details].  I am looking for a verbal response, ‘no’, ‘yes’ or clarification about the terms.”
2. If there is a positive verbal response, then the recruiter draws up the written offer and either meets with the candidate in person for signing or emails, in PDF-format, the written offer with a short expiration date.
The details of an offer are indeed important.  However, making a verbal offer clears up the recruiter-candidate conversation at the end of the vetting process.  Does the candidate need more information? Are they mentally and emotionally ready to commit?  With a verbal offer, you know that the candidate has picked you.  Isn’t that a great feeling, as opposed to being left on the white line at recess?