In talking with several recruiters recently, it seems the war for talent is bringing out some old-school desperate tactics for hiring candidates. When faced with intense pressure to recruit top talent in a highly competitive market, some employers will do just about anything to get you to work for them. One of the worst is something called the "exploding offer." It's when an employer provides a job offer and gives the candidate a very short deadline for acceptance, i.e., 48 hours or less.

Exploding offers = A lose-lose strategy.

Unfortunately, this technique has been used for years. In this article, Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, writes an open letter to recruiters who use exploding job offers on his students:

After years of teaching negotiations and consulting to employers that do the right thing, I can stay silent no longer. Here's an open letter to employers about why they should abolish exploding offers, along with suggestions on how to respond if they don't.

Dear Recruiter...

I noticed that you've decided to give exploding offers to our students. As an organizational psychologist, I want to congratulate you on designing a surefire lose-lose strategy.

First, you're hiring the wrong people...

Grant shares studies that prove starting a relationship with an employee by putting them under duress leads to turnover. In fact, this tactic results in a 8-13 percent recruiting deficiency. Why? The way you treat candidates in the negotiation process tells them you're untrustworthy. Grant sums it up best:

When you use an exploding offer to pressure candidates into signing, you can count on them to always have one foot out the door. As soon as a better opportunity comes their way, they'll jump ship.

Bigger penalty: Your employer brand gets damaged.

Besides negatively impacting your recruiting results, this practice does even greater damage to your employer brand. In a time where "employer shaming" is on the rise, candidates can use blogging platforms and rating sites to share their experience with your company. An exploding offer conveys one or more of the following about your company that could hurt your reputation as an employer:

  • You're having a really hard time recruiting candidates.
  • You're desperate to fill the position immediately.
  • You know the candidate will never choose you if he or she has the chance to consider other offers.
  • You view candidates as virtually identical, and are perfectly happy moving quickly to someone else.

Once those messages are out there, it can make it very hard to get top talent to consider your positions. Studies show job seekers today are becoming "job shoppers" who mimic consumer behaviors. They do their homework online first. If they don't like what they learn about you as an employer, they not only skip applying to your jobs, but they also pass on buying your products and services. As a result, some companies are getting very serious about employer branding as way to attract the right candidates and customers.

If you want to hire the best talent, don't let your recruiting team use high-pressure tactics on candidates. As the above shows, it's just not worth it.

Published on: Mar 9, 2016
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