Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How-to: Handle job candidates who back-out after accepting an offer

It looks like Andy had a job candidate back-out on him after they had already accepted an offer. Thought I’d do a short post on some of the learning’s we’ve had with this already, just in case anyone else is going though the same thing.

First of all… don’t feel bad, because it happens. Try not to get frustrated, and realize that it’s just a cost of doing business. Easier said than done maybe, but it’s a goal, right? Best approach is to find ways to minimize the amount of pain that results when this does happen. As an aside, I’ve had candidates shop the offer after accepting, and it’s something that is hard to eliminate… often an employer will throw money at a good employee who’s considering leaving… so just keep that in mind. That said, the vast majority of the candidates that have accepted an offer seem to come on-board, and I always have a frank conversation with them about their current employer, and the likelihood of them doing a counter-offer, reminding them that we won’t get into a bidding war.

Next, it might be worth seeking legal advice if it really bothers you. It’s been my observation that the threat of legal action is a powerful one, even if there doesn’t appear to be much that can actually be done in this arena that’s really worth doing… but your mileage and options may vary.

After that come the practical things. First of all, get your bases covered… we don’t tune up phone contracts until after the first 90-days (consider letting them expense it, if it’s a sticking point), nor do we order business cards during that time period. In fact, we don’t do a lot of things until those first 90-days have passed. We stipulate that the first 90-days are an “evaluation period” when brining someone on, and that they’ll receive some type of review at the end of that time period. Other stuff we limit or otherwise restrict during that time period... Domain Admin access on client systems is restricted, as is access to the premesis after hours, all server room access, unsupervised access to clients (during the first month), and a few other things more specific to our business.

Things we do…
We do order a laptop/workstation once they accept (we can always use spares).
We do tune up a network account, and phone extension.
We do conduct the various HR tasks related to on-boarding.
We do send out a new employee introduction email to our employees as well as clients
We have lunch with the new person.
We do compensate based on the prevailing market rates (who wants an employee that doesn’t stick around beyond a year?).

Otherwise, pretty much everything is negotiable and flexible - despite the above. Oh yeah, and we try real hard to not let candidates who back out on us bother us too much.

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