By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

We are in a candidate-driven job market. Unemployment is low, offers are competitive and candidates often have their pick of job opportunities. When we’re in a phase like this, job offer acceptance can be lower than we’d hope. When candidates have the luxury of not taking the first thing that comes along and instead waiting or negotiating, often juggling more than one offer at a time, job offer acceptance is affected. The best way to combat this is to make competitive job offers.
The key to a competitive job offer, and ultimately an acceptance, is the relationship you build with a candidate during the recruiting, hiring and engagement process. The hiring and offer acceptance process is a highly personal one. Job seekers have personal, professional and financial needs that are extremely unique. If your approach is highly personalized and focused on what’s most important to your candidate, it will show. However, there are a few universal factors that matter to candidates across the board when considering the competitiveness of an offer:
Pay
Compensation is a driving factor for a lot of candidates, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s all they care about. Salary is the aspect of compensation that your future employees are most concerned with, so it’s vital to be competitive in this space. Your candidates may end up choosing to take a job from you for a lower salary than they’d get elsewhere if your company ranks high in the other two areas, but as you can imagine, it will make their decision harder.
Find out what your competitors, both direct and indirect, are offering, and look at what the average company in your city, state, region or even country, depending on your company’s size, will be offering the candidates that also interview with you.
Location
You know what they say: location, location, location. This aspect of the job search ranks high because the choice to move, or not move, is a significant decision for a candidate. It may be less of a consideration for a single, unattached candidate than someone who has a family that’s settled, but this adds a life decision on top of a career decision. However, it’s not always as black and white as a relocation. Location considerations also include how accessible public transportation is to and from work, how stressful the daily commute is, whether or not it’s a work-from-home position and more.
This is one factor that you have limited control over, but you should be cognizant of what people think about where you’re located and be ready to use that to your advantage in recruiting or combat it. For instance, if you’re asking a candidate to move to a less desirable city, you’ll want to make sure the other two considerations (above and below) are up to par. If they’re not, you may want to be realistic and limit your sourcing geographically, or offer relocation assistance. If your location is negatively affected by lack of public transportation, nearby restaurants or other amenities, you may consider bringing some of those internally by offering a shuttle to and from the nearest train or catering lunches.
Flexibility
Flexibility is a concern for candidates for two reasons. First of all, most of us recognize that life doesn’t always go exactly like it should, and we often need flexibility in our schedule to care for family or ourselves, or just enjoy life. A company that offers a flexible work schedule, work-from-home options, generous vacation and sick days and an overall understanding and respect of an employee’s time and outside demands will set itself apart. Secondly, no one wants to be micromanaged and controlled, so a company and boss that offer autonomy and flexibility to work how they need to in order to produce the best product is important.
The key to understanding what’s important to candidates is to research, poll and talk with your most recent hires and job applicants. Have them share with you what’s most important to them and why. When does one factor outweigh another, and what are you offering that no other company is? Job offer acceptance will come when a candidate finds a mix of pay, location and flexibility that works for them personally. The question is, what can you, as a company, offer them that will meet their needs?

TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She’s the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.


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