5 tips to stop new employees walk away from already accepted offers

  • Reading time:6 mins read

The call we hateHave you ever been there? Getting the call from a candidate, who recently signed your employment contract, to say he has changed his mind and will not join?

After working for months interviewing and selecting the perfect candidate, you get the dreaded call close to the agreed starting date (if you are that lucky) – or in some cases only to have the candidate not showing up on their first day of work.

The kind of telephone call we hate

It’s a fact of life nowadays, it is no longer uncommon for new employees to walk away from an offer that they have already signed and accepted. Or even worse, they are no-shows on their agreed starting date.

It’s the kind of call that all recruiters and hiring managers hate to get. It usually goes like this:

“Sorry Khun Boss, but I don’t think I can join your company. I know I already signed the employment contract and that I promised I would never change my mind. But you see, my boss has given me a new big important project. He told me I’m the only one in the company who she can trust to lift this sort of responsibility. They are all so nice to me. And she also gave me a new title.” 

Call from a candidate you thought was joining

There is pre-boarding and there is on-boarding

Same same but different. The pre-boarding is what you do during the recruitment and interview process.

You should ask questions like why the candidate came to see you, what was the motivation for the candidate to come and meet you? It will give you valuable insight into the motivation. Ask this question:

  • When we called you about this opportunity, what was it that got you interested in coming here today? What interests you about this position?

How will the candidate handle a counteroffer?

Counter offerToday’s corporate environment has made the counteroffer an important weapon in the war for talent.

In fact, the counteroffer has become part of many companies’ strategy to keep salary costs down until they absolutely have to pay their best talent.

The best way to prevent your candidate is pushed hard by the boss to accept a counteroffer of a higher salary or title is to ensure that the candidate’s boss does not make one.

It’s a difficult conversation but one you must have with the candidate throughout the hiring process.

The difficult conversation you must have

Check how the candidate will handle a counteroffer from their current employer and it will give you an important hint as you try to assess the risk of losing a successful candidate at the last minute.

Is the candidate serious about pursuing this opportunity? How will the candidate resign and handle a counteroffer? If the candidate insists, they will not accept a counteroffer, ask them to give you the reason why – in their words.

  • Draw a square on your paper and write down in short what they say. When a counteroffer is extended, you read them in their own words.
  • We also have to talk about what happens if you are offered the job; and accept it. It means you will have to resign. How will you do that and what will you tell your boss?
  • What if they give you a counteroffer? Do you have any projects running that will delay your exit? Can you leave your boss and colleagues? What about the location?
  • If we go all the way, we will be asked to do reference checking on your background. Should we expect to have any issues talking to previous bosses or colleagues you think?
  • What other jobs are you currently considering or being interviewed for? How active are you right now in the job market?

You are only half-way when employment contract signed

OnboardingThe on-boarding starts the day when you and the candidate sign the employment contract.

Don’t even think that you are home and dry. Believe me, you are only halfway. You need to fill the time from the signing of the contract to the first day of employment; in fact even weeks into the new job.

Here’s a list of on-boarding activities:

  • Offer a show-up bonus. But include in the employment contract that the show-up bonus must be repaid if the candidate leaves within 12 months.
  • Have frequent telephone calls with the person.
  • Invite for lunch or dinner with the new colleagues.
  • Ask the candidate to call you immediately after giving notice.
  • Set up their new email and give them access.
  • Print the new business cards and send them to the home address.
  • Include the person in your WhatsApp or Line group.

Be creative and you will have deserved the champagne when your candidate turns up on day one. Good luck.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.