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10 Things You Can Do to Minimize Fall-Offs

Elizabeth Feltner, M.A., A.B.D.

A Helpful Resource for Hiring Managers

I’ll bet this sounds familiar. You have hired an outstanding person for a position in your organization. The excitement for their arrival is building rapidly as you anticipate the tremendous impact they will have. Then, just a couple of weeks or days before they are supposed to come on board, you receive a phone call. Much to your disbelief you hear, "I was calling to let you know that: (a) I have decided to stay … or (b) I have accepted a position with another organization." "It’s a sinking feeling," said a CEO whose eagerly awaited new VP of Fund Development called at the last minute to deliver the message that she wouldn’t be joining the organization after all.

Is there more we could be doing to protect ourselves from this occurrence? The answer to this is a definite Yes. Outlined below is a 10-point checklist that any hiring manager can review to make sure they have minimized the likelihood of a fall-off.

For those of us who have a tendency to take these situations personally, let me assure you that you are in good company. Due to a number of reasons, counteroffers and fall-offs have plagued all of us. We have a tendency to question ourselves, our reputations, and even the professionalism of the individuals involved.

We need only to remind ourselves that overwhelming industry challenges have resulted in a volatile employment climate. Increasing competition from other care models has been a large factor. Counteroffers have become more prevalent as organizations compete fiercely to keep the performers.

Now that we have an understanding of why an increasing number of our new hires aren’t showing up, we understand the need to fortify our processes that give us greater control over the new final stage of the recruitment process, SHOWING UP FOR WORK.

Ten Steps to Minimize Fall-Offs

1. Start with a Position Specification. Begin with the end in mind by outlining performance expectations, success patterns, and character attributes for the successful candidate. More than a job description, a clear vision of what you are looking for will help you recognize a finalist candidate.

2. Develop a strong candidate pool. Utilize a comprehensive approach to surfacing a broad range of candidates. Under the theory of leaving no stone unturned, pursue candidates from all directions including current/former employees, referral sources, and vendors in addition to passive approaches such as classified advertising, social networking, and Internet postings.

3. Maximize goodwill throughout the process by following up on responses and inquiries quickly. Consider highly sought after candidates as perishable. They won’t last forever.

4. Obtain in-depth candidate concerns as a part of your interview process. Candidates who are not actively looking are not motivated like the unhappy or unemployed. Ask, what does this person not like about their present situation, and find out.

5. Identify obstacles early on. Aside from that intuitive gut feeling, trouble signs may surface during the first interview that will serve as your cue to proceed with caution, if at all. Warning signs can be indecision about career issues, exaggerated emphasis on salary needs, creative excuses placed in the way of future interviews or start dates.

6. Determine a person’s tendency to consider a counteroffer. We already evaluate candidates according to skills, values, and experience. Testing for the tendency to accept a counteroffer will obviously influence their evaluation. Rather than ask, ’Would your boss make a counteroffer and would you accept one?’, create a hypothetical scenario and approach the question from a softer angle to extract a more truthful response. Example: ’If the people you currently work for were to offer you more money to stay, what would you tell them?’ If their response is questionable and the current employer is meeting their needs, then we are probably wasting our time.

7. Before extending a formal offer, ask if they are at the point where they are prepared to give their acceptance. If they say ’No’ then you have spared yourself the embarrassment of proceeding and you have the opportunity to surface and deal with other concerns. You have also avoided giving them an offer that they may feel compelled to share with their current employer.

8. Stay close during the resignation. Tendering a resignation is difficult for most people. Your finalist candidate may appreciate your counsel and reassurance now more than ever. Don’t assume that candidates have other support people, i.e., a friend or spouse that would advocate for their decision. Ask them to call you after they have resigned to let you know how it went.

9. Follow up before the new person starts. If your new employee has given a four or six week notice, you may want to contact him or her two or three times before the start date just to build enthusiasm and to continue to reinforce the decision.

10. Follow up after orientation and at frequent intervals over the next 90 days to surface rough spots that may have developed in new work relationships. Take the opportunity to learn about the impact the new job has on your new team member’s family and personal aspects.

Have a new hire starting next week or maybe the week after? When is the last time you or somebody from your staff talked with them? Think you may want to give them a call? Probably a good idea.

About the Author
Elizabeth Feltner, M.A., A.B.D. photo

Elizabeth Feltner, M.A., A.B.D., is Vice President of Deffet Group, Inc. She works collaboratively with clients nationwide to identify and retain executive leaders and advance organizational success. An accomplished public speaker for employers and national conferences, frequent topics include succession planning, on-boarding, and leadership development.