As the holiday season winds down and the hiring season ramps up, this month’s article describes what financial planning firms should be doing to increase the likelihood a career seeker accepts their offer of employment. Because there’s nothing more frustrating than needing to restart the process from step 1 or having to go back to other candidates that clearly were not your frontrunner, because your top choice candidate rejects your offer! To say the least, a prospective candidate that declines your offer can seriously impact the momentum you’re trying to build with your decision to hire.
Here are the most common reasons we see why offers get rejected in the first place:
- Candidates lose interest due to lengthy application process, most commonly from firm owners who stretch the interview process out too long (often because they’re uncertain what they even want in a candidate), or fail to make a prompt offer after a good interview
- Candidates being offered below-market compensation or what they perceive as only a lateral move without real upside/growth potential
- Mishandling of offer process, particularly by failing to give necessary specifics on compensation and/or benefits offered
- Lack of customized (or any) career track that makes the candidate fear it will be a dead-end job
- Through no fault of the firm owner, the candidate is only marginally interested in position, and more focused on using the offer as negotiation leverage elsewhere (which is unfortunate, but does happen sometime)
Accordingly, here are our suggestions about what you can to do to increase your chances of getting the Yes! you are seeking when you actually make an offer to a candidate you really want to hire:
- Time kills the recruiting process. Candidates should be required to demonstrate above-average effort via the interviews/screening process but continuing to add assessments to make up for a lack of confidence on who to hire rarely helps if at all. Gather a few data points on the candidate through interviews, personality/workstyle profiling, cognitive ability, and then commit. If you have had some mis-hires, considering bringing in outside help in the form or a practice management consultant, coach, recruiter, HR professional to help you firm up a better vision of who you need, how to go about hiring them, and how to better onboard them (as a bad onboarding experience often causes even good candidates to leave).
- Due to the current talent shortage plaguing the financial planning profession, few candidates, even if they are excited about the position, will accept offers below what they are making… and in fact, most are seeking an increase in their base compensation. What matters most is what the job seekers are looking for and what they will accept, not what an industry salary survey says they should be paid. We recently witnessed two instances where firm owners lowballed strong candidates against our advice, and sure enough both offers were rejected (and the candidates moved on to another job opportunity before a second higher offer could be made).
- You should have one point of contact (POC) for applicants during the hiring process. Even if the interview process requires multiple interviews from different internal staff. This is will alleviate confusion, and potential mishandling and miscommunication with candidates that can reflect poorly on your firm (and decrease the odds they want to take a job offer from you). Keep in mind, the job market is in the candidates favor right now, and they are paying close attention to the little things, so strive for the process to be delightful (or at least not dreadful!).
- We recently had a client, who offered less in terms of cash compensation, land a candidate from a competing firm due to the fact the candidate was thrilled that the firm owner adjusted the prespecified career track to accommodate their unique abilities (which was not offered by the other firm). Just like in client engagements, sometimes it is the smaller gestures that people remember the most. Consider moving away from rigid boxes that people must fit into, and instead build in some flexibility, so you can customize a path for a great candidate if it fits into your overall business plan.
- Be aware, it is possible a candidate is going through your interview process only to see what you would offer, so they can take that to the firm they really want to work for and negotiate a higher starting package. The best way to reduce this risk is to implement a screening process that requires candidates to expend effort beyond the minimum one or two rounds of interviews (which is why we use a multi-step screening process at New Planner Recruiting). However, as discussed above, be careful in developing a process that is too burdensome.
Keep these in mind as you work through your hiring this year to position your firm for best possible success.