Goal posts

Moving the goal posts

You’ve gone through the entire search process, the market has been mapped, the long list whittled down to a shortlist, you and your colleagues have invested hours in interviewing the best people in the market for your role and you’ve identified the ideal person.  You present the offer. You present the contract.  The candidate turns it down. 

…you moved the goal posts. 

Delivering on what you said you would at the outset of the process is essential in ensuring you attract and recruit the desired people for your business.  Changing the parameters unexpectedly at the point of offer will not help you to do this, it will most likely have the opposite effect. 

Of course, there can be times when moving the goal posts is in fact what needs to be done to attract the right people.  Perhaps it’s increasing budgets, or the responsibilities, or maybe even the job title.  All positive changes that can help to secure an individual that will return the investment you are making in spades.  Be very, very wary of reverse however.  Decreasing or downgrading any of the elements that you had laid out at the beginning of the process regarding role, package, location, flexibility (the lists goes on and on) will rarely be looked on favourably and can beg questions of company culture and internal politics. 

Ensuring you have alignment across all stakeholders involved in the search, prior to commencing, is crucial in avoiding any last minute u-turns. Is everyone internally comfortable that a level of flexibility will need to be offered for this hire and is everyone aligned as to what that level is exactly?  Are the budgets signed off and are you able to make a financial offer at the top end of the bracket that is being communicated if needed?  Is the hierarchy and reporting structure defined and the job title aligned?  So often we see businesses change things at the point of offer – a VP role has a Director title on the contract, the budget isn’t what was previously outlined, the two days at home is no longer preferable.  These types of changes result in disengagement from the process as well as the recruiter and employer brand that you have upheld until now. Candidates question whether this is a sign of things to come, that promises won’t be delivered on and all of sudden their current position seems preferable again. 

When running the search for the next key hire – being totally clear on the brief from every perspective, communicating this accordingly and delivering on this at the point of offer will avoid your offers being rejected. 

Don’t move the goal posts! 

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