Why Candidates Renege on a Job

by | Oct 21, 2014 | Recruitment & Relocation

It happens every now & then, a recruit who had accepted a job offer and signed a contract of employment, backs out of the deal (sometimes even after they have started the new job) leaving the company high and dry.  This not only puts the company in an awkward PR situation (most likely they had announced the new hire to the public) but it also forces them to begin their search over from square one as all the runner up candidates are now long gone. The amount of time and money wasted on these unfulfilled searches is draining, particularly on the co-workers who pitch in to help cover the work load.
Does it surprise you that a six figure hire for a high profile position would do this? As economy continues to strengthen, my staff members and I are seeing this happen more often and we worry about the burned bridges the candidate leaves behind and how it will affect their future employment. It’s a small world after all. Recruits should keep in mind that most HR execs know each other in their industry and search firms keep track of those who renege on an acceptance and often eliminate them from their database.
I feel for the search firms and HR execs who put in 6-8 months of work on filling a key position. My firm, steps in as the finalists are coming back to town with their spouse/partner to get to know the Cleveland, Akron or Canton area. It’s our job to match the family’s interests and needs with the lifestyle in NE Ohio. And sometimes, even after spending an 8 hour day (or two) with the recruit, we can be blindsided by this decision as well.
As the economy steadily improves, we predict this will happen more frequently. Some national search firms are reporting that as many as 30% of candidates renege on a job acceptance!  Some recruits are using the leverage of a competitive offer to stay at their current job but finagle a promotion or an increase in salary. Some candidates pit two companies against each other and accept offers at their 2nd choice (think safety school for high school seniors) then as soon as they get the offer from their first choice, they bail.
No matter what size your company is, here are some words of advice we can offer so this doesn’t happen to you. After 34 years of working with 100+ candidates a year, here are some warning signs/red flags that might help you spot a looming problem:

  1. When interviewing candidates listen to the story of why they left their last job(s) and see if you see a pattern that makes you see retention issues
  2. Make sure the spouse or partner has been involved in the decision (we have played damage control for all those silly recruits who thought it was ok to accept a job in another city without even discussing a relocation with their family!). Talk to the spouse on the phone and see if they have any questions. Invite the candidate & spouse on a exploratory visit and make sure they aren’t just driving around on their own, but are given a professional relocation tour of your city and its neighborhoods – then have an honest discussion with the agency to see if there are any warning signs (a spouse who just won’t engage in the tour day, a candidate who asks virtually no practical questions which indicates they are just along for the ride with no intention of relocation), family issues that could make a move complicated, etc.
  3. Don’t hire people who are leaving their current company in the lurch to join yours. This is a sign of their commitment and loyalty and could foreshadow how they leave you next.

BusinessWeek summed it up well in this article. We know the world is infinitely more complicated than when our parents were negotiating their jobs/salaries. And, the lack of loyalty seems to be a two way street, but still, isn’t your word your bond? What do you think?
For more info on how Executive Arrangements can help your company or organization attract and retain the best possible talent by working holistically with the entire family to make sure they are all on board with a relocation to Cleveland, Akron or Canton Ohio, call us at 216.231.9311.