May 27, 2018

Jobseekers: Sign In | Sign Up Recruiters
  InFocus Newsletter Newsletter archives

Share this article:
Bookmark and Share

6 Great Reasons Not to Lose a Candidate -Part 1

Losing a great candidate is a painful and disheartening experience. I for one, beat myself and wonder what I could have done differently as I do a cerebral post mortem. Sadly, it is the occupational hazard with which we live daily and it is a part of the game of recruiting. With that in mind, we all need to learn from our mistakes and do our best not to repeat them.

Losing great candidates will never go away completely. But we can look to some ideas and insights that will help that event to become less frequent. Please consider the following points and know that if you do lose a candidate, you played the game as well as possible.

Unclear Compensation

There is no feeling worse than sailing down the road to offer time when you suddenly realize that you do not fully understand the specific structure of the candidate’s current compensation. Sunny skies disappear quickly and even Iron Man can’t save you. Take the time up front to understand the candidate’s exact compensation structure. Knowing base salary is not enough. We must understand incentive compensation as well seeking out information such as:

•How is it is paid out?

•When it is paid out?

•What parameters must be met to have it paid out?

•How much incentive comp was paid to you in the last three years?

If you do not understand this information, you will need more luck then skill to close the deal, and that can be a doomsday scenario. One last thing; always ask when your candidate is up for review as this little fact will alter your overall understanding of their compensation in the event the candidate is given a raise.


Counteroffers are the stuff of nightmares. You get that call two days before the candidate is to start and your heart stops. I can write and talk about counteroffers for endless hours, but suffice to say, the conversation about counteroffers needs to begin early on in the process and should be a thread that runs through the entire conversation. The more serious the interviewing dialogue becomes, the more you need to keep counteroffers top of mind. Just a few thoughts:

Candidates who are most prone to counteroffers are:

•Those who have been with a job for five-plus years

•Those who have a very easy commute

•Those who work for very large companies

•Those who have never given you a compelling reason they want to leave

•Those who have gone the counteroffer route before.

All of us lose candidates to counteroffers, but if you know you did it by the book, you will spend your nights sleeping instead of lying awake and thinking about what might have been.

Uncertainty About What They Do

The two most important things we need to know about the candidates we ultimately present to those who might hire are:

  1. We must understand what they currently do

  2. We must understand what they want to do next

Understanding what a candidate is currently doing gives you the opportunity to build a bridge, in your mind and theirs, from their current role to the role for which you are qualifying them. This is very hard to do if you are unclear on what they currently do. Second, understanding what a candidate wants to do next is very important because if the job you have is not in alignment with what the candidate wants to do next, the chance of closing the candidate diminishes.

Rule of thumb here:

  • Better to find a candidate who wants to do what your role calls for then try to convince a candidate who has little interest in it to take the job.

Read Part 2

- Howard Adamsky

Howard Adamsky ( has been recruiting since 1985 and is still alive to talk about it. A consultant, writer, public speaker, and educator, he works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years' experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent. An internationally published author, he is a regular contributor to ERE Media, a member of the Human Capital Institute's Small and Mid-Sized business panel, a Certified Internet Recruiter, and rides one of the largest production motorcycles ever built. His book, Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) is in local bookstores and available online. He is also working on his second book, The 25 New Rules for Today’s Recruiting Professional.