In a candidate-hot labor market, a signed offer doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate will stick with you through day one on the job.
In the past several years, a spike in reneges became (and continues to be) a constant headache for early-career recruiters. According to a June 2022 survey by Gartner, nearly half (44%) of candidates backed out of an accepted job offer (up from 36% in 2019). Further research shows that high employee turnover shows zero signs of slowing down. Experts predict voluntary turnover will jump 20% this year, with a forecasted 37.4 million employees quitting their jobs in 2022 (up from a pre-pandemic average of 31.9 million).
The result? Hiring managers need to accept that a “yes” could easily become “yes for now,” unless you’re willing to dedicate every tool in your arsenal to preventing candidate reneges.
Unfortunately, many employers defaulted to a reactive — rather than proactive — approach throughout the hiring crisis, resorting to band-aid fixes over a candidate-first engagement strategy. Among an ever-growing list of failed tactics, hiring managers sought to battle hiring shortages with overhiring, increased (and often unattainable) recruiter quotas, higher salaries with no promise of a work-life balance, and heavy reliance on AI HR technology with zero human oversight. Now, employers add another short-term fix to a now chronic problem: extending job offers nine months to a year before a candidate’s first day.
Why an Early Offer Isn’t Enough to Prevent Candidate Reneges
In theory, extending an early job offer captures top-tier talent before competitors have the opportunity to engage the candidate. Employers aim to win the War for Talent by signing early-career applicants 9-12 months prior to the start date — many times, the fall prior to a summer internship or full-time role.
Here’s where the strategy falls short: Much can happen in 9-12 months, particularly in the life of an upcoming graduate. As reneges become increasingly common, candidates will continue to weigh opportunities and entertain competing offers throughout their senior year — particularly if communication halts (or is deemed insufficient) with their supposed future employer.
An early offer isn’t enough to gain 100% commitment from a candidate. Instead, hiring managers need to pair early offers with a candidate-first engagement strategy, ensuring recruits look forward to — not back out of — their upcoming role.
At a minimum, employers should communicate with candidates once a month, slowly increasing their cadence as the start date draws near. Rather than sending a quick, “Just checking in!” blast email, hiring managers should capitalize upon this time, educating students on company values and DEI initiatives, introducing recruits to future managers and mentors, and answering questions on onboarding documents. Below, we share a number of tips to help prevent reneges amongst early-career talent.
4 Tips to Stop Reneges Before They Happen Amongst Early-Career Top Talent
To keep top early-career talent engaged for long periods of time, implement the following strategies:
1. Leverage Hiring Managers to Facilitate Meaningful Connections
Early-career candidates aren’t just looking for a paycheck. They’re looking for a place to make friends, gain mentorship opportunities, and establish real connections.
The pandemic caused feelings of isolation, particularly amongst young people. New research shows that 57% of Gen Zers state that face-to-face time with coworkers is important, and 56% say that remote and hybrid work makes it difficult to participate in workplace culture.
Hiring managers have an opportunity (and responsibility) throughout an extended candidate journey to combat feelings of isolation and foster meaningful connections. Leverage hiring managers to introduce candidates to junior buddies or mentors, coordinate team events or social gatherings, or schedule meet-and-greets between Gen Zers and future managers. Create a coordinated effort to incorporate early-career candidates into your workplace culture well before their start date.
2. Speak Directly With Candidates When Establishing Feedback Loops
Employers have run themselves ragged over the past three years by implementing tactics to combat the hiring crisis. In the end, they could have preserved time, resources, and headaches by implementing one simple step: asking candidates what they want.
Poll your incoming cohort on what information they wish to receive, which medium(s) they want to receive that information, and how often they hope to stay in contact. Involving candidates in implementing feedback loops shows you care about their concerns and will continue to listen and pivot according to their wishes once they become an employee.
Once a candidate transitions to a full-time employee, don’t let feedback fall by the wayside. Schedule regular check-ins to ensure newcomers understand role expectations, areas of focus, pathways to professional growth and development, and opportunities to develop new skills. And remember, when in doubt, ask! Continuously ask if there are new or improved ways to contribute to their success as an employee.
3. Combine Technical Tools With Human Foresight
Gen Z is the first generation of digital natives. And while they have a proven affinity for digital communities and smartphones, research shows that the overwhelming majority (72%) prefer face-to-face communication at work.
Strike a balance between leveraging 1) automation tools to free up internal resources and prevent burnout and 2) a human touch to create a personalized candidate experience. Scholars allows you to build customized candidate journeys at scale, sharing educational resources, videos from executives and onboarding to-do lists with incoming candidates. With Scholars, you create a two-way conversation with each candidate, allowing them to submit questions, share profiles, create connections, and join upcoming events. Plus, Scholars layers atop your existing technology stack (including your HRIS and ATS platforms) to create a better candidate experience.
4. Start the Onboarding Process Early
Your onboarding process can make or break a candidate’s experience. According to McKinsey, Gen Z has more anxiety and emotional stressors than any previous generation — which can manifest into pre-career anxiety.
Candidates want to feel prepared prior to their first day in a new role, which is why onboarding is a key component of any engagement strategy. Establish a pre-boarding or extended onboarding strategy to answer questions throughout the candidate’s journey. With Scholars, hiring managers prime candidates to understand expectations and contribute to department success on day one. With hiring manager journeys, native survey capabilities, and integrations with existing HR technology, Scholars make it easy to personalize an automated onboarding process.
Create a Personalized, Extended Candidate Journey With Scholars
Cases of job offer reneges have risen in recent years. To combat reneges and the overall hiring crisis, many employers extend job offers earlier than before — sometimes, 9-12 months prior to the start date.
Unfortunately, an early offer won’t prevent candidates from entertaining opportunities from competitors. Instead, employers need to pair early offers with a candidate-first engagement strategy. Using the Scholars platform, hiring managers can facilitate meaningful connections, establish feedback loops, launch a pre-onboarding process, and gain further insights from existing recruiting platforms.
Scholars brings a level of humanity back to the hiring process, allowing you to build personalized journeys at scale. To see how Scholars can help you attract and retain top talent — while decreasing reneges — schedule a free demo.