Don’t lose candidates at the final hurdle

Employers Professional & Managerial
Don't lose candidates at final hurdle

There is a common saying within the recruitment world that I’m sure you’ve heard before; you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. This truism is even more obvious when you are operating within a candidate-short market, which unfortunately is the reality for many industries and job sectors in New Zealand in 2018. Securing the best talent is difficult in normal circumstances, but when you have quality candidates receiving multiple, and sometimes very generous job offers, it’s extremely challenging. I’m often asked by hiring managers how to make sure that their preferred candidate accepts a job offer. I’ve pulled together four essentials for ensuring that once you get to offer stage, that hard-won candidate is ready to walk through the door.

  1. Understand your candidate’s motivations. Taking the time to uncover more about your candidate is not only useful during the beginning of the process but is essential at the close too. In my experience, when you have an in-depth knowledge of what drives your candidate, you know a few details about his or her personal life; their hobbies, likes, dislikes and what their relationship is like with the current employer etc., then you will also know what it takes to get that person across the line, AND when a counter-offer is looming, or an alternative option is looking attractive. I’m not talking about persuading a candidate to take the job when it’s not right for them, but instead boosting their confidence in their decision to take your offer.
  2. Be a quick decision maker. Our GM, Christian, talks about this in an earlier blog post about ‘Recruiting in today’s candidate-short market’, but it bears repeating as it’s just so important. In a candidate-short market, the very best talent won’t be around in two months – or even two weeks – when you are ready to prepare an offer. Be efficient and responsive; start reviewing applicants as soon as you receive them, put a realistic closing date on your advertisement (1-2 weeks) and ensure HR has all the information to promptly create a letter of offer to your preferred candidate as soon as you’ve made a verbal offer.
  3. Keep talking; keep selling. Often the ‘end’ of the recruitment process, that time just before or just after an offer is made, brings with it a vast, gaping silence. You are busy working away at your end, but it’s important to remember that the candidate is contemplating what is a huge and possibly life-changing decision. Try to keep those channels of communication open, check in using whatever method is appropriate and while doing so, be sure to give the new role and the organisation a plug. Fascinating project just starting? Your organisation just received an industry award? A big training programme launched? The candidate wants to feel like this is their best option; make sure you show them it is.
  4. Pay market rates. Remember what I said about monkeys? Do your research. If you are paying below market rates for your role you will find it 80% more challenging than your competitor to fill the position. Madison has recently released the 2018 Employment Market Report which includes salary ranges for over 115 roles across six sectors. If you are interested in receiving a printed copy please don’t hesitate to email me (, I would be more than happy to offer advice around the market, and on benchmarking your vacant positions.

Remember, ‘if you snooze you lose’ is extremely relevant in today’s market as businesses compete for scarce resources. Be efficient, understand your candidates and keep them engaged and interested in your offering and of course, pay them market rates. Then I believe you will be able to entice the best talent to your business.