Hire Wisdom: 7 Tips from a Headhunter on Closing a Candidate – Pt. 2

October 16th, 2014

Ross Campbell Financial Services Insurance Recruiter
By Ross Campbell, Financial Services & Insurance Recruiter

If you missed it, check out part one of this blog post, where I break down the importance of a short hiring cycle, how to deal with competing offers, and how to mesh what is important to the candidate with what you can offer.

Now we’re at the offer stage where compensation becomes front and centre… and it can be a tricky sticking point.  Here is how to handle the final stages of presenting and closing an offer.

4. Make a Competitive Offer

Compensation is often the least important criteria in the initial interview process but then when the offer becomes real, it quickly becomes the most important criteria… so make sure that this moving target hasn’t changed throughout the process.

tips from a headhunter on closing a candidate

Know if and when the candidate is expecting to be paid a bonus at their current employer, as it will factor in their decision making process.  To ensure your offer will be accepted, ‘trial close’ the candidate before the official offer is made with a simple IF and THEN statement: “If I get you x will you accept the offer, sign the offer, resign from your current employer and start with us on x date?”

Presenting a low ball offer to a candidate to save a few dollars on their salary is just bad business.

If you want a good employee who will spring out of bed in the morning to come and work for you, and stay for the long run, then pay them what they’re worth.  A rookie mistake is to assume the salary you gave the last person in the role is good enough for a future employee.  Salaries are dependent on the candidate and the market; how much could they get elsewhere?  Remember that last year’s market prices or what you feel the market prices should be are irrelevant.  Do some research to ensure the salary you offer is competitive.

Before entering negotiations, get the lowdown on salary trends.  Remember, statistics are not always accurate so don’t put all your trust in salary surveys.  Salary.com and similar sites can help you learn about compensation trends and best practices, but getting out in the market and speaking confidentially with industry professionals you trust will give you a more accurate picture of current salary ranges.

5. Know When to Yield

Not every candidate is going to jump at your offer.  Some candidates may appear reluctant as a negotiating ploy, thinking their hesitation will encourage you to make a stronger offer.  Others may be genuinely unsure that the job is a good match.

Know your audience and try to discover the source of the indecision.  If a candidate is looking for a greater salary, determine if it aligns with the person’s potential contribution.  Similarly, pleading your case to a candidate with serious reservations could backfire when the person has second thoughts and jumps ship after only a few months.

6. Create a Great Candidate Experience

I touched on this in Hire Wisdom: 6 Tips to Respect the Candidate throughout the Hiring Process, and it is especially true at the hiring stage.  Invite the candidate to lunch and give them another tour of the office.  Introduce them to other key people.  Show them the great areas for staff relaxation or the noisy production floor where the fantastic products are being created right there on the spot.

Give them a taste of the energy of the place and make them want to be there!

7. Have a Backup Plan

Nothing makes you more confident in a negotiation than a strong backup plan.  You know if it all goes awry with this candidate, things will be okay.  This confidence is apparent to the candidate and it subtly weakens their negotiating position.  If their other offer is genuinely better and you know you cannot match it, you are empowered to cut off the negotiations and move onto the next person without wasting any time.

Getting a candidate across the line requires a lot of hard work and diligence in the hiring process.  To improve your chances of closing a top candidate:

    • Know exactly what motivates the candidate and what criteria matches in the position being offered
    • Present the offer face to face with enthusiasm, creating an experience that will have them signing on the spot or within 24 hours. 
    • Educate and coach the candidate on how to decline the dreaded counter-offer, and have them resign from their current position within 48 hours.

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Check out the rest of the series, Hire Wisdom: The 12 Keys to Successful Hiring.  Learn more about Toronto Financial Services & Insurance Recruiter Ross Campbell and connect with him on LinkedIn.

IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, & Vancouver. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have teams of specialist recruiters in Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing Communications & Media, Emerging Tech & Telecom, Consumer Goods & Retail, B2B & Industrial, Technology, Accounting & Finance, HR & Operations, Energy, Mining & Engineering, Life Sciences, and Construction, Property & Real Estate. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.

Ross Campbell

Ross Campbell is a Partner and Practice Lead, Financial Services & Insurance with IQ PARTNERS. Celebrating over 10 years of management consulting experience in executive search, recruitment, and training in Canadian financial services and insurance companies, Ross thrives on the belief that business can be done significantly better by investing in the right people.