Ensuring candidates don’t take your job offer and abandon it

Anyone who's remotely familiar with e-commerce has heard the term "cart abandonment" before: customers adding a few items to their cart and letting them linger there but ultimately hesitating and not pulling the trigger on a purchase. This phenomenon – initial commitment followed by a quick reversal – isn't limited to online merchandise.

According to a recent study cited by Staffing Industry Analysts, a significant number of employees queried about their job-search processes (28%) said that they had said yes to a job offer from at least one employer upon which they eventually reneged. If seeking to bring on the best talent for your organization, it's critical to work hard to prevent this from happening.

You can't win them all

The biggest reason why job applicants who receive offers from a given company ultimately jump ship is simple and fairly obvious: bids from other businesses that promise more than the first firm could in terms of salary, benefits, presumed workplace culture or some combination thereof. About 44% of respondents to the aforementioned survey claimed this as their deciding factor. To a certain extent, that's unavoidable – unless you have the ability to extend competitive counteroffers, which influenced 27% of job-offer refusals among surveyed workers. Frankly, there's almost no way you can exceed offers received by every candidate. 

The importance of reputation 

The other most significant factor is something that your organization does have control over if you're capable of recognizing it: a poor reputation, cited by 19% of survey respondents. Even if it's somehow unearned – from misleading reviews by former employees, a former relationship with a company that was, unbeknownst to you, unethical and so on – a bad rap on your firm can sink your chances of landing top talent. (Also, if a negative reputation is earned, you have much bigger problems at hand.)

If a candidate cites this as a reason for declining your offer, you can still work to change the conversation so that future applicants aren't discouraged by negative accounts of your internal environment (genuine or otherwise). Mediabistro contributor Fred Godlash, a media and communications specialist, suggested paying close attention to employee complaint platforms, the use of social media to directly address customer complaints, proactive responses to negative inquiries and consistent improvement efforts as notable ways to mend a bad reputation.

Improving the initial offer conversation 

There's a lot to be gained through the use of prevention as a cure; in other words, you need to make offers that are compelling enough at the outset to stand up to the barrages of bids by other firms. Forbes contributor Kelly Kinnard, vice president of talent at Battery Ventures, noted that in areas like tech (and other markets in need of tech staff), software engineers and other positions with major demand can attract big, six-figure salaries with ease, and expect those campaigning for their services to live up to such expectations.

But this isn't only true of candidates applying for senior positions or CIO/CTO roles. Most highly qualified applicants for IT roles and other commodity positions know they're capable of earning a lucrative annual wage. Simply put, you shouldn't resort to lowballing or other not-uncommon psychological negotiation tactics, unless you find yourself in which they're absolutely necessary. Such situations occur less often than some might think. 

A great job offer that an applicant takes is almost always about more than money. When making pitches to highly coveted applicants, use every opportunity possible to emphasize the culture of your workplace, its benefit offerings, track record of successes and future growth potential. Capturing the services of premier employees ultimately involves exemplifying the same qualities that you expected out of them when you wrote your initial job description.