October 19 , 2017

Improve Offer Acceptance Rates by Revealing the Quality of Your Team Members

Top candidates demand quality co-workers … so show them profiles of team members

Imagine this recruiting scenario. During a final interview, one of your top tech candidates clearly appears to be wavering about whether she is willing to leave her current “pretty good job” and accept a possible new opportunity at your firm. Suddenly the hiring manager makes a bold and unexpected move by leaning over and handing this reluctant candidate a stack of resumes, each one from a member of his current team. Why? In order to show her the power, education, experience, and capabilities of the team she’ll be joining.

In this case the manager was Jonathan Rosenberg (as outlined in his recent book), who eventually ran the product team at Google. However, this “show-them-their-future-coworkers” approach can be used by almost any hiring manager. In my experience, revealing the quality of the coworkers remains as one of the simplest, most effective but least-used candidate closing approaches.

The Average Worker Cares About Coworker Quality

If you take a data-driven approach to selling candidates (unfortunately few do), you already know that “working alongside good coworkers” is a primary factor that many average candidates consider before they accept a job. Gallup’s extensive research demonstrated that having co-workers committed to quality work is a key reason why most employees stay in or accept a new job.

Top Candidates’ Job-acceptance Criteria Includes Great Coworkers

It has been my observation that finding top candidates on the Internet has become quite easy over the last few years; the selling components within recruiting have quietly become the No. 1 most-important recruiting component for highly competitive jobs. As the battle for talent heats up, every day it becomes more and more difficult to “sell” these top candidates who invariably have multiple job choices.

For top candidates, the quality of their coworkers factor shifts from merely being important to an essential job acceptance criterion. If you are unfamiliar with the power of the quality-of-the-coworkers factor, just look to professional sports, where it is well-established that having a great coworker like LeBron James will dramatically influence the decision of other top players to join or stay on the team.

In order to ensure that you accurately know the top factors that are included in the offer acceptance criteria of a majority of your candidates, periodically survey a sample of your candidates. Also survey all new hires during onboarding and finally survey a sampling of your current top-performing employees. Ask each of them to reveal what specific factors really impacts their decision to apply and then to say yes to an interview and an offer.

Should You Provide “Profiles” or Complete Resumes?

Once you determine that you want to use “the quality of coworkers” as a selling point, you must decide whether to provide candidates with complete resumes or shorter profiles. Using existing resumes is the easiest approach, but because of the length of most resumes, the sheer volume of the compiled resume document can make it time-consuming even to scan.

As a result, I recommend an alternative approach, which is to provide top candidates with a compilation of one or two paragraph profiles of the team members (or LinkedIn profiles). These shortened profiles can still cover all of the key points but because they are very brief, scanning through each of them would only take a few minutes.

Another decision that you must make is whether to include profiles/resumes of every employee in the team or to limit the compilation to only the most prominent team members. If you want to appear authentic and credible, I recommend the former approach, where every team member’s profile is included. I would, however, frontload the document so that the most powerful profiles appear first.

Security Is an Issue

You don’t want the recruiters at your talent competitors to get a copy of this profile or resume compilation. Therefore, in most cases, that you should not provide electronic copies of the compilation. Instead, hand them a paper document during their interview visit, which you let them review but not keep.

Pretest the Co-worker Compilation

Pretest this profile document with some of your own employees to ensure that the most important attributes of each employee are included and are easy to spot. Also consider asking a sample of interviewees to identify the employee accomplishments that impressed them the most.

Let Them Know About Your Team’s Successes

Knowing the extensive experience of their individual future coworkers is a great first step, but let candidates know about the successes of the entire team working together. You need to comb through the team’s history in order to identify key product and process successes, any new innovations, breakthroughs, or approaches and any awards or recognition that the team has received. Summarize those successes and include it with your employee profiles.

Outline some of the projects you are currently working on and that you expect to work on in the near future in order to further excite these candidates. Obviously you have to be careful not to reveal too many company secrets. 

Go a Step Further and Let Them Know They Will Have a Good Manager

Another key job characteristic that top performers look for is having a good manager. If you really want to convince candidates that they will be well-managed, go beyond simply providing a profile of their next manager; give them a descriptive summary of their direct supervisor’s management approach. By highlighting how you will direct, communicate, empower, recognize, measure performance, and develop your employees, you can excite them and eliminate any fear that they might have about your approach to management.

Candidate Closing Rates Will Improve if You Ask … “What Additional Information Do You Need to Make an Informed Decision?”

Your chances of getting “a yes” from a top candidate will further increase when you ask top candidates “what information do you need in order to feel 100 percent comfortable about accepting a job offer?” In fact, it is always a good idea to ask top candidates these four questions:

  1. Can you list for us the specific job-acceptance criteria – that means the criteria that you will use when you make a decision on whether to accept or reject your next job offer. Once you know the critical information, recruiters can use it throughout the process to ensure that your firm is providing enough information to show that your offer meets or exceeds each one of their criteria.
  2. Who” would you like to talk to – also ask them “based on their job title, who do you need to talk to at our firm in order to feel comfortable when you make your final decision?” Letting them choose some of the individuals who they will talk to during the interview process may relieve any possible concerns that they might have that you are withholding anything.
  3. What other information do you need? – is there any other company or job information you need to review before you can feel totally comfortable with accepting an offer?
  4. Do you have any unanswered questions – what other job- or company-related questions do you need answered before you can feel totally comfortable with accepting an offer?

Survey a sample of top candidates who dropped out of the interview process or who said no to your offer. Ask them directly to tell you “if there were any areas where a lack of information or access discouraged you?”

Final Thoughts

Even without data, intuitively it should make sense to both hiring managers and recruiters that top candidates who are focused on winning would want to know the strengths of their potential teammates, because having strong coworkers would enhance their probability of succeeding. So whether you provide resumes, profiles, or simply just highlight the strengths of your team members during the interview, remember that you must proactively reveal that you have a powerful and successful team, if you expect top candidates to say yes to your offers.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.