The tech recruiter’s Kryptonite

Today, one of the biggest challenges that technology recruiters face is when candidates drop out in the last moment i.e. they decline an offer that they had already accepted. This is the norm for any and every company, be it the large ones like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle or the smaller startups.

Earlier the “offer decline” ratio used to be as low as 10%. Unfortunately the trend is that even the best IT companies are looking at a horrifying decline ratio of around 50%. It really tough for a recruiter when you offer 10 candidates and only 5 of them show up. As a recruiter, this is one of the toughest situations to be in. An offer decline means that you need to go back to square one. The delivery guys also would have done some resource planning for projects and all of that will have to be redone from scratch.

Now, let’s look at the situation from the candidate’s point of view. The candidate also does not really want to create such a situation for the company that has offered him a job. He has spent time going through the interview process and has accepted an offer. Now declining the offer would be a difficult decision to make.

This is the irony of the whole conundrum. Neither the candidate nor the employer wants such a situation to occur. Then what could have been the possible reasons that could have led to this? From my experience, I feel that there can be 3 major reasons for this to occur

  1. Better offer from a competitor (in terms of money/role/opportunity)
  2. The current company has retained the employee
  3. Locational constraints and personal reasons etc.

There are numerous reasons that a candidate gives for not joining a company. Unfortunately, the recruiter feels completely helpless as he feels these factors were not in his direct control. But is this thought justified? Could the recruiter have done something to avoid this situation? I believe that to a large extent, the recruiter could have avoided an offer decline.

Let’s rewind back to the day when the candidate was offered and he accepted the offer. Until this time the recruiter was in touch with the candidate on a regular basis and tried to accommodate all the requests from the candidate. As soon as the candidate accepts the offer the recruiter kind of gets relaxed and slowly reduces the frequency of the interaction (taking the offer acceptance for granted). This is the time when a competitor probably approaches the candidate.

The candidate clears their interview as well and gets a second offer. He tries to reach out to the first recruiter. Unfortunately the first recruiter is busy in converting other offers and cannot respond back in time. Or the first recruiter takes this update casually. This could be a trigger for the candidate to take up the second offer.

There could also be a scenario that the candidate has multiple offers and he has to decide which one to choose. He is in a dilemma and wants to make the right choice. If a recruiter does better handholding of the candidate there is a 80% better chance that the candidate will go with the offer by the recruiter.

The third scenario is where the current company has retained the candidate. Even in such a case as a recruiter you should still keep in touch with the candidate as he is bound (90% cases) to get bored in 2-3 months and realize that he made a wrong decision of sticking with the organization. Again this is possible only through some friendly handholding that the recruiter can do and show the candidate how much the company cares about their employees’ future.

Irrespective of the size of the company you work at, do remember that offer declines are here to stay. This is a part and parcel of the challenges that a recruiter faces on a day-to-day basis. Building a solid relationship with candidates will help to overcome this and reduce the number of declines in your company.

Manav Prasad is the Head of Human Resources at Compassites. Manav comes with over 12+ years of industry experience. Prior to joining Compassites he was leading HR & Recruitment functions at companies like Saba Software, Thoughtworks Technologies etc. He is well known in the Human Resource circuit and has been a key member of popular HR forums such as HRIA. Manav holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Nagpur with an MBA from IIIT, Pune in HR and IT

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