Constructing the Winning Offer

Approaching the strategic planning cycle and subsequent succession planning cycle, we wanted to pick up on a trend we are currently seeing in the candidate marketplace in order to provide our valued clients and prospects some (hopefully) timely advice.

Previously, we addressed the dynamics of talent attraction, and how the changing dynamics of the talent war should affect the interview process as the economy continued its rebound.

We are now focusing attention on the offer and the work/negotiation leading up to an offer extension.

Great candidates, both active and passive, can currently generate a handful of career opportunities within a 30 – 60 day job search, with criteria such as mobility being their only true limitation. As such, we should both expect and anticipate our chosen candidate will have two or more offers he or she is comparing, including in many cases the obvious choice of staying in place.

How then, do we make sure our offer resonates – gets traction – and is selected?

Firstly, let’s make sure that we truly understand what professional needs are driving the candidate to seek alternate opportunities and make certain we have a compelling, consistent “story” for the candidate which meets his or her career needs. If we cannot meet these needs, then pursuit of the candidate is at best fragile and an offer is likely to fail. Better to understand this early in the process than fail downstream.

Secondly, let’s explore the practicality of personal pursuit – is the family truly supportive of the need and are we able to meet relocation expectations? Relocation is obviously an emotional, practical and financial hurdle.  The good news being that we can, with creativity and flexibility, meet two of these three hurdles head on. Knowing our internal limitations on practical and financial support for the relocation process, and being on the same page about these, is key to early qualification or disqualification of the candidate.

Thirdly, assuming we meet the career needs and can support the relocation process to the candidates satisfaction, what are candidates saying about the offer process and how do we make sure our offer is front and center.

Candidates are telling us:

1.       “Offers are too slow” – approvals and prevarication raise expectations and diminish confidence

2.       “Offers do not reflect what I was told at interview” – let’s make sure an overly anxious hiring manger doesn’t promise something which we cannot deliver!

3.       “Offers are not sympathetic to my real needs” – let’s jointly work out what the candidate values most and pitch to that. Some candidates feel cash is king – others are more about wealth creation or downstream benefits.

4.       “Offers do not truly reflect my walk away cost or acknowledge my previous seniority” – Equity is mostly above water now, but may not be vested. Bonuses, although as yet unpaid, are easier to predict. Expecting a candidate to walk away from earned wealth was possible, but is increasingly less palatable to the candidate with multiple offers.

5.       “Inflexibility” – a lack of interest in negotiation,  to a point, may indicate inflexibility which in turn makes the leader question his or her ability to attract and retain high potential talent.

In summary, once a candidate is selected, make an offer fast. Make sure no one on the hiring team has over promised and the offer is under delivering. Make sure it is positioned to meet the candidate’s real needs. Make sure the offer addresses wholly, or at least in part, real walk away costs. Know what you will negotiate and what your absolute limit is.

Good luck capturing the true high potential talent – and extending the winning offer!

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