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Why Top Job Candidates Walk Away

How long does it take you to hire job candidates? Are you still playing “hard to get” even with top candidates? With the job market quickly shifting back to the job seekers’ favor, too many employers aren’t keeping pace. A recent job recruiter study found:

– More than 80 percent of employers feel they are in a job candidate-driven market: A nearly 30 percent jump since 2011.

– Over 20 percent of employers require more than four interviews before a candidate receives a job offer.

– More than 40 percent of hiring managers take over a month to make a job offer.

– Top job candidates continue to reject offers primarily because of accepting another job offer. However, lower-than-expected salary/benefits packages are a growing reason for rejections.

– Nearly 80 percent of the time, job offers are rejected after more than three weeks (some more than nine weeks). That’s critical time to waste during a hiring process.’s John Zappe calls this phenomenon a case of “too low and too slow”: Hiring managers lagging behind on adjusting to the competitive job market by making offers too late in the process and too low in the area of compensation.

But are time and money really the major factors for top job candidates turning down your offers? We asked several candidates who’ve turned down job offers in the past. Here’s what some had to say:

“Just as the person interviewing for a job needs to make a good impression, so does the staff interviewing. It goes both ways. I had interviewed for a great position a couple of years ago but was so turned off by the attitude of the managers, I turned the offer down.”

“I have turned down job offers due to the employer being inflexible with scheduling. If someone is the perfect match for a position but has schedule conflicts, why still offer the position but insist on hours that conflict with their schedule needs?”

“I received a great job offer at a high-profile city agency but turned it down for a small marketing firm job that paid much less. Why? Every time I met with the city folks they looked/acted desperately overworked and stressed. No amount of money could have sold me. Every couple years, I see that same position open up…and I shake my head every time.”

Did you spot a theme? Yes! It’s company culture. JT O’Donnell, CEO, CAREEREALISM Media and CareerHMO, recently started several candid LinkedIn discussions that hints on this subject. O’Donnell has called 2015 “the year top talent gets stolen from your company.” Why? It’s the year employers are truly nailing employment branding, which ties back to company culture.

“Studies show that 70 percent of companies plan to invest in employment branding so they can quickly figure out what’s most attractive about them as employers,” she writes. “The sooner they do, the sooner they can get in the game and flirt with talent.”

But job candidates (like the ones quoted above) are finding there’s an ugly side to being wooed by a great employer façade. As O’Donnell points out, “Some companies will invest in elaborate promotional strategies that will make them seem hot, only for new hires to realize quickly it was a scam. Just look at the comments in this article about UPS’s latest holiday video’s employment branding potential and you’ll see some people chime in with their version of a reality check.”

The bottom line? Be fair and be honest. A fast hiring process, highly competitive wages, and a company culture that’s as good as it looks from the outside will go far this year to ensure your job offers get accepted.

Have your rejected job offers taught you valuable lessons? We’d love the hear them!


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