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Why do Candidates decline job offers?

Every hiring manager or recruiter will have experienced a candidate declining a job offer, normally in stark contrast to everything said during the interview process. With the UK’s employment at a record high of 31.4 million and a further increase of 302,000 people working at the end of 2016, employers are struggling to hire the people they need to fill the skilled positions available.

Hiring managers conduct their interviews confident in the belief that an offer of employment, is likely be accepted by a candidate. However, this assumption is no longer universally true. 

Redline Group, one of the UK’s leading technology recruitment Consultancies, recently surveyed “Why Candidates Decline Job Offers?” The results demonstrate that many employers may need to adopt new thought and operational processes during the recruitment and interviewing cycle.  The research covered over 750 Permanent and Contract job offers managed via Redline over the last 12 months, carefully examining the reasons for declination in the 15% of candidates who did not accept the offer with one of Redline’s clients.

The results of the analysis were as follows:

  • 28.9% declined due to the salary & benefits package offered
  • 21.2% accepted an alternative offer  with preferred job or company 
  • 19.7% declined due to location or the need to relocate 
  • 15.8% accepted a counter-offer  

If only 15% of Candidates Decline Permanent or Contract job Offers, Does it matter?

 Yes, definitely, the time, money and effort invested means the hiring process becomes critical to a business’s long-term success. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) demonstrate there is a sustained decline in professional candidates’ availability. Recent studies from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) showed demand for staff continuing to rise during 2016-17. In the same period, the availability of permanent and contract/temporary staff continued to fall, with some employers crying out to fill vacancies and 50% of employers anticipating skill shortages.  Further research published in 2016 by the Social Market Foundation and EDF estimated that a total of 640,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) candidate will be required over the next six years, with many of these engineering jobs being new roles created within emerging industries. The ‘War for Talent’ has heated up considerably over the past decade and with the engineering and technology industry, demand for highly skilled workers has outpaced the supply of applicants. 

Is it still possible to attract, recruit and retain talented candidates? Yes, however it requires more forethought and planning than in the past.

Adam Walker, Director at Redline Group comments, “The challenges lie in figuring out what is most important to your new hire – and then devising a comprehensive offer that meets those needs. The old ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to job opportunities does not work in today’s hyper-competitive technology labour market. To win the “War for Talent”, employees must take a strategic approach and a long hard look at the organisation from the outside and figure out exactly what they have to offer to today’s candidate.”

What should Hiring Managers & Directors be doing to secure candidates? 

1. Review the salary and benefits being offered

Ensure a realistic, competitive salary and benefits package is on offer to help attract, retain and engage the best people in the most cost-effective way possible. Try and utilise up to date salary data from all sources including Redline’s monthly Salary and Rate survey.

Benefits such as pension, private medical, life insurance, free refreshments etc. may all serve to attract an individual but it should not be forgotten money is not most individual’s sole driver. Flexible hours, working from home a duvet day may all be seen as the deal clincher. Whatever your philosophy on remote working, more companies are going to have to learn to accept it as today’s reality. If you want to hire the best talent, you can’t expect them to uproot, sell their apartment/house, move families and pets, and situate themselves into a new place or not straight way anyway.

2. Provide a flexible approach to the interview time

With most prospective Candidates in employment and having to take annual leave to attend interviews it has become more incumbent on potential employers to show flexibility. Most individuals would prefer not to use annual leave for an interview or ‘steal’  time from their current employer to attend an interview. Offering an initial telephone interview, Skype interview or meetings out of core business hours all help to assist the initial candidate attraction and engagement process.

3. Emphasise future career opportunities

Many employers do not realise the importance of career development. There needs to be more emphasis on work-life-balance, long-term stability of the company and the training on offer.

4. Sell the company to the candidate

If your company wants to hire the best people, it needs to convince those individuals that it is the best employer that they could work for. The right kind of people can see past a salary to the opportunity as a whole. What does “opportunity” involve? In its broadest sense, it can include everything except the salary:

  • The kind of projects they will be working on.
  • The people they will be working with.
  • The style of leadership they will be working under.
  • The nature of the company as a whole.

Every hiring manager should have a ‘Company Elevator Pitch’ and understand the company’s USP’s. This means focusing as much on the branding of the organisation itself as you would on its products and services.
When outlining a job opportunity to prospective employees, you are effectively selling the company’s brand promise. This includes the functional aspects of the brand – “We pay well” as well as the intangible aspects “We’re passionate about our work”. The best candidates are vetting their potential employers as much as the employers are vetting them.

5. Senior Management should be part of the recruitment process

Management and the Board should have a clear vision, strategy and road map, including the direct impact on headcount and the recruitment process.  The ability to staff a business with talented individuals will have a direct effect on its likely growth.

6.      Work with an REC approved recruitment partner

Use a REC Member thus ensuring the recruitment process adheres to current legal requirements and codes of best practice. All REC members must demonstrate that they are fully compliant with current employment law and must abide by a Code of Professional Practice. It is a condition of membership they have a complaints policy and procedure in place, and member agencies are subject to the REC’s disciplinary and complaints procedure.

Adam Walker continues: “When it comes to hiring the right kind of talent, companies need to provide more than just a good interview, it is often about being the right kind of company. They need to be transparent, truthful, respectful and enticing. Forward thinking employers are recognising that the process is far more of a two-way process. Everyone employer will still have to do some searching and vetting, but it makes the process a whole lot easier if companies embrace the new recruitment landscape, pay well, offer an opportunity, shape a culture, and defy ordinary.”

To view a full version of the Infographic on 'Why Candidates decline job offers?', please click here. If you would like to let us know about a vacancy you would like us to advertise for you, please contact Adam Walker on 01582 450054 or email


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