Offer Shopping: Strategies To Get Candidates Through The Door

Welcome back to our series on offer shopping and its impact. 

Read Part 1: The good, the bad and the ugly of Offer Shopping 

On average, nearly 17.3% of candidates across all domains reject job offers, with that number increasing significantly as the war for talent heats up.

While there may not be a straightforward solution to offer shopping, there are definitely actions that can help deal with it. For example, when businesses have clarity on the role they are hiring for and the person they need to fulfil that role, there is no room for ambiguity. This reduces the time to hire and creates a seamless experience for all involved. Or when recruiters engage with candidates without glossing over the finer details, the candidate isn’t faced with unpleasant surprises later on. Or when candidates talk about their expectations with candor, it ensures that all parties are on the same page. 

For recruiters and hiring managers, the challenge is two-fold. They don’t just need to find the right candidate and convince them to sign on the dotted line, but they also need to identify candidates who aren’t serious about the interview. The latter is significant because if you pin down a potential offer shopper, you can save precious time and effort and focus on hiring a candidate with the right mindset. 

This article will provide you with strategies that can help you identify an offer shopper and provide mitigation strategies so that your next recruitment goes according to plan. 

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How to identify an offer shopper

The best time to identify an offer shopper is during screening. Here are a few tell-tale signs recruiters must learn to identify.

  • Misaligned expectations and aspirations: One of the first conversations a recruiter must have with a potential candidate is about their expectations and aspirations. This can be about monetary benefits, employee benefits, role, career path and more. So first, let the candidate tell you what their big dream is, without having to filter out what they think you want to hear. Then check if there are at least four or five checkpoints that align with the recruiting company. 
  • Look for vital signs: A candidate who isn’t putting in extra effort during the interview process isn’t earnest about the job. It can be minor signs like not attaching their latest CV or a sample of their work even when the job application asks for it, tardiness, lack of communication and more. At the same time, there may be genuine reasons for a candidate’s behaviour. Understanding ‘why’ is essential. 
  • Job hopper: No one expects employees to stick around in a company for decades, but when a candidate has switched jobs almost every year, proceed cautiously.
  • Social media screening: A quick glimpse at a candidate’s social media presence will tell you a lot about their true self, often more than an in-person interview. Without veering into stalker territory or treating social media opinions as gospel truth, do a quick scan of prospective candidates’ profiles to better learn about their intentions and morals.
  • An open and frank discussion: Sometimes the easiest way to spot an offer shopper is to simply ask them if they are evaluating other offers. If the candidate appears flustered and unable to answer the question, drill down deeper. If the candidate answers in the positive or negative, you have your answer. Most candidates will be candid about whether they’re courting multiple offers.
Photo by Patti Black

Mitigate the risks of offer shopping 

You’ve cast the net, so to speak. You’ve got your job description out there, and you’re eagerly awaiting to find out whether you can net the right candidate for the job. You hope what happened the last time doesn’t happen now as well. The last time you thought you’d found the perfect candidate. Until they weren’t. Just before they were supposed to join, they called to say that they found a better job or that they *insert excuse here*. That gut-wrenching feeling is still vivid in your memory. You vow not to let that happen to you this time as well.  

Sound familiar? According to Deloitte, the average cost of hiring an employee is approximately $4,000. So if a candidate backs out after an offer letter has been drafted, that’s quite a bit of money and time wasted. However, there are a few ways you can create an insurance plan for yourself to mitigate the risks of having a no-show after rolling out an offer:

1. Clear value proposition: An important aspect of recruitment that Spottabl endorses (and excels at, may we add ☺ ) is storytelling. When recruiters or hiring managers talk about the company and the role in lucid terms, candidates have a much better idea of what they’re signing up for and won’t have nasty surprises at the end. Almost 89% of Glassdoor visitors are either looking for a job or open to a job change. But that doesn’t mean they are the best fit for the job you’re currently recruiting for. So, highlight the distinct value propositions of the job and the prospects. This will help potential candidates identify if the job is a proper fit, and you’re less likely to face disappointment via offer shopping.

2. Communicate clearly: Communication is key to successful hiring. During compensation negotiations, have frank discussions with the candidate to understand their expectations and gently point out the best you can do. If it’s a candidate you want onboard, offering a signing bonus can work wonders.

3. Guard the company’s online reputation: Candidates look at the company standing and employee reviews on job portals before deciding to join the company. If they see something on there that worries them, it is very likely that they won’t accept your offer. As a recruiter, you need to ensure that your company is represented truthfully and in the best light online. A string of bad reviews online can dent the chances of a candidate accepting your offer.

4. Unique hiring approach: Instead of hiring the most skilled candidate, why not hire a candidate with the best attitude and put additional efforts into training them. A way to avoid being a victim of offer shopping is to target employees from tier-2 or 3 companies. If given a decent job offer, these employees are much more likely to accept your job and show up as opposed to candidates from top companies. This also allows you to train your employees in-house and chart their career progression from scratch.

5. More offers: Another popular technique that is gaining popularity with recruiters is sending out more offers than the jobs available, with the assumption that some candidates will back out. This will ensure that you have ‘substitutes’ for when you need them and that the business does not suffer. 

6. Sneak peek: If a candidate has been offered a job and is taking time to come to a decision, turn things in your favour by giving them a flavour of what it would be like to work in your company. An informal lunch or dinner with their teammates is a great way to convince someone on the fence about joining.

Like most things in the world, offer shopping also means different things to the parties involved. While job seekers use it as an arsenal for a better opportunity, recruiters and hiring managers would like to steer clear of it at all costs. But, with the right strategies, you can avoid the crushing disappointment of getting played by offer shoppers.

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In her free time Vani loves storytelling and helping talent meet their aspirations. She has been a part of enterprise, growth stage startups & VC firms. She is driven to make stories and startups matter.

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