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Why Are Candidates Declining Job Offers – Redline Group Declination Survey 2018

12/06/18 Nick Livingstone Director

It’s more disappointing than ever when a highly-skilled candidate declines your job offer! In an era of numerous recruitment metrics – time to hire, cost per hire, candidate source, applicants per hire, diversity etc. the most critical is still the Offer to Acceptance ratio.

Every hiring manager or recruiter will have experienced a candidate declination, normally in stark contrast to everything said during the interview process. With UK employment at a record high, 34 million people in work (Dec 2017 – Mar 2018), and the number of people employed (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) at 75.6%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, it’s often candidates who hold the upper hand.  Organisations now require more forethought and planning to achieve the best recruitment process in today’s competitive market. Too often, hiring managers’ expectations are out of sync with the job market and if you are not aware of how your organisation measures up, you may be at risk of losing candidates to your competitors.

According to new findings from STEM Learning, the largest provider of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths education and careers support in the UK, the UK’s engineering and technology skills shortage is costing businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training costs.

Redline secures 1,000’s of offers for Engineering, Technology, Sales, Manufacturing, HR and Finance professionals within the European high-technology and engineering sector. Not all accept, but through a robust, quality and knowledge-led approach, last year we secured an overall 78% acceptance rate (81% in Contract and 72.8% in Permanent). Through detailed analysis of each declination, we’re constantly reviewing our approach and advice to Clients and Candidates alike.

We understand that it is always helpful to see ‘your company’ and ‘your offer’ through the candidate’s eyes. This way you can understand why candidates may opt for another job opportunity and what you can do to make your organisation more attractive.

We recently completed our Declination Survey for 2017-2018. The results demonstrate that many employers may need to adopt new thought and operational processes during the recruitment and interview cycle.  The research covered over 1,000+ Permanent and Contract jobs offers managed via Redline over the last 12 months. The results of the analysis were as follows:

  • 31.9% declined due to the Salary offered
  • 28.5% accepted a ‘Better’company or position 
  • 15.5% declined due to Location or Relocation 
  • 16.4% accepted a Counter-Offer at their current company

With 22% of candidates declining offers, does it matter?

Yes, definitely. Many employers are now calculating the total cost and time in failing to secure all the candidates offered. Statistics from ONS and the REC demonstrate a sustained decline in professional candidates’ availability. Recent studies from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) show the demand for staff overall strengthened to a six-month high in May, with sharp increases in both permanent and contract roles. The growth in demand for staff saw a drop in staff availability and the lack of candidates remained a major challenge for companies looking to hire.

In an economy where there are more jobs than skilled people to fill them, we asked Redline Group’s Director Nick Livingstone how do we identify, attract and secure the right talent in a challenging skills-scarce sector.

“As the talent shortage continues to plague employers, organisations must transform their recruitment strategies and processes in order to attract the very best talent. You must treat your prospective employees like customers”, says Nick.

There are many ways a business can adapt and improve their processes to secure candidates in a skills-scarce market including:

  • Reviewing salary and benefits being offered
  • Offering flexibility with working days and hours
  • Simplifying the recruitment process
  • Offering rewards and recognition
  • Promoting company culture and well being
  • Training every interviewer 
  • Using candidate assessment tools sparingly
  • Offering continuous training, further education, development, and progression 
  • Focusing on shared values just as much as qualifications
  • Measuring your failures and success

“Employers need to shift their focus and change the way they operate to secure their talent pipeline.  This can be achieved by redesigning existing work procedures, offering flexible or virtual work arrangements or leveraging contingent workers. Adopting new people practices including providing additional training and development to existing staff can also help. Some of Redline’s clients have redefined their qualifying criteria to include candidates who lacked some of the previously required skills or formal qualifications for a particular job role, but have the potential to acquire them. Hiring managers should also consider appointing people who don’t currently have all of the needed technical skills, but who have the potential to learn and grow within their business.”

“Move quickly, timing is everything. The sooner you can get an offer out, the better. Top performers will not wait. Recent industry studies showed that 63% of job offers happen within 2-4 weeks of the first interview. If your company takes longer than that to extend an offer, you may be missing out on candidates.” 

“Lack of good interview feedback is often an issue. It’s not uncommon for candidates to accept a second or third-choice role due to a faster response rate or helpful interview follow-up.”

“Another way to improve your acceptance rate is to sell your company culture and style. Employers should focus on their employer branding efforts, specifically your employee value proposition (EVP). In today’s highly competitive and transparent labour marketplace, workers are increasingly clear about what they seek in an employer. A rewarding compensation is of course always important, but companies cannot simply seek to outbid competitors for every role they need to fill. There are many other considerations that aid talent attraction, many of which go beyond monetary value; they’re directly related to your employer branding strategy. While you may increase budgeting to enhance these qualities, some aspects may require changes to your company culture and practices to increase your appeal as an employer. Learning to offer things that will affect the work/life balance of your employees goes a long way in determining the strength of your culture and business.”

“If you exhaust all attempts to improve the compensation structure, then survey your current employees who love their jobs, and use these reasons in recruitment material. Provide this information to hiring managers so they can focus conversations on these subjects. Quite often, job security, a fun atmosphere, and employee involvement come ahead of compensation in many applicants' decision criteria.”

“The old ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to job opportunities does not work in today’s competitive technology labour market, says Nick.

“Above all, don’t make assumptions about what your employees want. Survey them regularly to find out what incentives they truly value. To win the ‘War for Talent’, employers 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, thus crafting a total rewards program and recruitment processes that attracts – and retains - the best employees.”

For a copy of Why Are Candidates Declining Job Offers? – Redline Group’s Declination Survey 2017-2018, please email or call 01582 450054