As a hiring manager, it’s important to learn how to make job offers candidates can’t refuse. When it comes to hiring senior-level executives, though, closing the deal is complicated. It’s a process that takes patience, persistence, and practice.
In order to minimize surprises, the most crucial legwork needs to happen before you make the offer. You should never make an offer you’re not confident the candidate will accept.
We sat down with Ann Blinkhorn, an executive recruiter and founder of Blinkhorn, L.L.C., to talk about the art of the close. Blinkhorn specialises in senior-level executive search at the intersection of media and technology and has built senior leadership teams for established and emerging digital companies including Hearst, The New York Times Company, NPR, Mashable, Gilt Groupe, and The Huffington Post, among many others.
Here are the most important takeaways from our chat with Blinkhorn:
1. Assess the situation.
Before you approach someone for a job, ask yourself: What would compel this person to make a move? Is this an enticing and realistic move for them?
2. Give details.
When you reach out to the candidate, present the opportunity in as much detail as possible. Writing a job description helps you (and the candidate) understand exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Court them.
Courting any senior candidate takes multiple meetings. Maybe they come see the office for the first meeting. For meeting #2, they might meet other people at the company for coffee. The third meeting could be drinks or dinner.
4. Dig into their motivations.
What are they seeking in their next role? Can you offer those things in this role?
5. Connect them.
Connect the candidate with an employee at your company who will make them feel comfortable — maybe someone with a past employer in common, or a fellow college alum.
6. Offer face-time.
Give the candidate face-time with your CEO, president, or another senior executive. This will communicate the importance of the position.
7. Be honest.
Before you make the offer, talk openly with the candidate. Ask directly: “Do you really want to work here?” Make it clear you don’t throw offers around unless you are confident the answer will be yes.
8. Maintain confidentiality.
It is important that your discussions with a candidate who is happily employed elsewhere are not leaked out into the market. A potential leak could jeopardize the hire.
9. Create competition.
Explain that you have other candidates lined up for this position, too. Assess whether there is a chance the current employer will try to retain the candidate through a counter-offer.
10. Ask for details.
Ask what other offers he or she is entertaining. Explain why your company is a better move for them than company X or Y.
11. Stay close.
Between the time of the offer and the decision, stay close. Send a small gift that’s personal to one of their hobbies or interests. Call, text, or email the candidate to check in and see what they’re thinking. What about the offer is holding up their decision?
12. Don’t burn bridges.
Regardless of what happens, don’t burn bridges. You never know when your paths will cross again, or if the candidate will regret their decision in a few months.
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