Blindsides – How to Avoid Candidate Back-outs that Surprise Recruiters and HR

One of my favorite things about the show Survivor are the ‘blindsides’.   Several tribe members offer up a fake strategy that everyone buys into and then, secretly, they vote off someone that never sees it coming.   And, yes – I still watch Survivor, despite a co-worker saying last Fall:  “that’s cool, my parents love that show!”

Anyway, blindsides are exciting, surprising and make for great television, right??   When it comes to hiring and recruiting, they are probably the most frustrating thing you can experience – and it’s happened to all of us (don’t pretend it hasn’t!!!).

Here’s why you’re getting blindsided as a recruiter (or Survivor contestant):

  1. You want it to happen more than the candidate does (aka, you’re desperate).

Candidates can feel your excitement and when they do, kiss trust goodbye (and therefore open communication).   Your excitement is about YOU, YOUR commission,    YOUR placement.   This is THEIR job, THEIR life, THEIR future.

Despite what you’ve been taught or trained:  You CANNOT make someone take a job.   I know a lot of firms out there teach how to sell the features and benefits of their client and  how to “close”.   What’s going to happen is they are going to answer your “closing questions” with the answer you want to hear so they don’t have to get into a debate with you.   You are creating a situation where they have to choose between telling a lie or getting ‘closed’ (which NO ONE wants).  Instead of trying to convince them to say yes       (which won’t work), try to UNCOVER their opinion.

I go the other way – call out the 2 or 3 things that would most likely cause this NOT to happen and discuss.   Say this every time:  “I just want you to know it’s OK if you end up saying no to an offer.  I will not be upset. This is your career and I don’t want you to   feel pressure from me to take this – I’m OK if we walk.”   That’s the only way you’ll   build a trusting relationship where the truth comes out.

  1. You don’t have back up candidates.

You would be less desperate if you had the top choice and a solid back up.   It’s hard not to feel desperate if you only have this one option and it HAS to happen in order to get the placement.   Design your strategy around finding multiple candidates and not giving up after finding that first good one you run across.

  1. You’re too ‘comfortable’ (read: lazy/assumptive) and care too much about salary.

Landing great hires is hard, really hard.  Solid candidates in all skill sets have options.  Pay is very important to candidates – trust me, I get it.  But, I don’t see recruiters engaging often enough about how the actual job fits.   How does this job compare to what you do now? – ask this.

I had to talk to a candidate in the absence of a recruiter in our office and it’s the first    thing I asked.  The candidate said it was less spend than he deals with now and ‘kind of’    a step back.   BUT HE STILL wanted to get the offer…??   I ended up encouraging him to   withdraw.  That’s why you have to take control and never get comfortable.

Otherwise, you’re going to end up wasting everyone’s time and get blindsided.

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