Offer to Join! God Almighty help!
The title term pertains to Recruitment and it is one of the important metrics measured for the effectiveness of the recruitment department. A lot of hard work goes into each step from sourcing profiles through various means to the final step of onboarding. Hence any offer rejection amounts to wastage of effort by Recruitment and the concerned Hiring Team. This results in a loss of revenue and opportunities. I have been observing the pattern of offer rejections in India since 2006. The situation was very bad and the industry average for offer decline was at 50% i.e. if we give ten offer letters, only five will join. I always created a Candidate Relationship Management Team with a clear charter, and with the support of this team, we could improve and maintain the offer to joining ratio above 75%. This used to be a hot topic in all our review meetings. Also to be noted is that this trend is not only for middle-level roles but also for Entry level and Leadership roles. I have not seen any change in the trend even when there was a slump in the market.
I am always surprised by the demand from the Business Team to find candidates who can join quickly. Though Project Management has matured in the IT Industry over the last decade or so, I have not seen any change in the practice of Customers/Delivery Managers asking the Recruitment Team to get an “immediate joiner” to complete a project.
Is it that the Requirement Gathering and Project Plan processes fail every time?!!
Is it due to competition?
Is it that the Customer wants to burn the given budget in a particular quarter?
There could be many reasons. Interestingly in some organisations, there will be employees on the Bench but the Project Managers/Sales Team will not find them suitable for one or other reason.
I am also surprised to see the enthusiasm of my Team members when they get to see a matching resume with some good content against a burning business need. The Recruiter will run to the Delivery Manager and then both of them get on to a call with the prospective candidate; selling the opportunity, company, role, designation, salary, perks, location, training, canteen facility available, etc.etc. in an effort to select that individual! The Sales Guy with Gucci sunglasses and a Tissot watch will be right next to them saying that we must get this candidate ASAP as it will open a BIG DOOR with the customer. End of the day, all go home happily thinking that they have zeroed in on a suitable candidate. The Recruiter will then be in close contact with the candidate only to realize on the day of joining that it is an Offer Decline. Disaster!
I have been trying various creative ideas to address this but there is no end to this menace. Let me narrate a classic example one of my Delivery Heads was in touch with a candidate who possessed a very niche skill. The Delivery Head was very confident that the candidate would definitely join. He checks the night prior to the joining day if the candidate is comfortable to take a morning flight but to his surprise, comes to know that the candidate has already reached the joining location! The Recruitment Manager is thrilled seeing the commitment of the candidate and goes for a dinner party. He again calls the candidate in the morning and comes to know that he has boarded the right bus at 7 am and is on the way. At around 11 am, the Recruitment Manager gets a call from the Delivery Head to ascertain the whereabouts of this guy who has reached the joining location the previous night. Then the chaos began!!! He tried the candidate’s mobile number but found it was switched off. He cannot be reached. The Recruitment Manager even checked if there was any major accident en route. He could never reach the candidate after that. We can solve a murder case after a decade and arrest the culprits but we cannot solve cases of offer decline!!! Mysterious!
Why is this happening? In my opinion, candidates are pursued by Recruiters under pressure from Business/Project Teams even if they inform them that they have an offer in hand. End of the day, this results in confusion and forces them to come up with weird reasons like – death in the family, sudden accident OR disability, skin allergy, a difference of opinion with wife OR husband, location challenges, food allergy, traffic jam and pollution, ‘stays in the South of a city whereas the opportunity is in the North’, ‘wants to work only in a development project’, ‘needs only on-site assignment’, ‘current company offering better package’, ‘current Project Manager is so nice’, ‘climate not suitable for the Puppy’, ‘Gym not available’, ‘Water not suitable for Hair’ and any reason you can think of. There are also a section of candidates who will confirm the joining date but will have no reason for not wanting to move and this intuition comes to them just the day before they have to join a new company!
I have no idea why candidates waste their precious time in taking interviews and discussions. What fun they have by keeping the Recruiters in the dark. The IT community is considered to be the most talented class in India, and they are supposed to follow best ethics and integrity. To maintain this tag, I urge that it is high time candidates change their mindset and be transparent. At the same time, Business/Project Leaders must think how they can avoid asking every time for candidates who can join immediately. Many a time, this means the Recruiter has to find a candidate who is about to join another Company and start bidding for their salary which ultimately increases overall cost to the Company.
I suggest that Recruiters ensure the following:
(a) Screen candidates thoroughly … try to be very upfront and understand their interest in the opportunity. Ask all relevant questions and identify the reason for a change …. this could be the Reporting Manager, Salary, Location, Role. If it is Salary, it is better to drop the candidate OR at least take a confirmation on the budget you have and then proceed. Set expectations clearly.
(b) Observe the behavior and response level at each stage. e.g. response to emails, attending interviews, submitting documents, etc.
(c) Create a Candidate Relationship Management cell and especially monitor offered candidates – with a checklist and pattern. Communicate with them continuously.
(d) Reject/drop candidates who behave erratically OR show lukewarm response – dont trust excuses and reasons.
(e) Insist on emails regarding resignation acceptance and relieving confirmation – this is very important as many a time, the project will accept resignation and forward to HR who will insist on relieving only as per Company norms whereas the candidate will misguide the Recruiter stating that resignation has been accepted.
(f) Never worry. Update the Business Team and Customer if you see a renege and go for a backup candidate.
With all these checks and balances, you may achieve an 70 – 80% Offer to Join. The trend will change only when Candidates take this seriously and maintain transparency and Business/Project Managers maintain better planning and avoid surprise ramp up requests!
God Almighty Help!