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8 Reasons Candidates Decline Job Offers at Your Agency

And How to Respond to a Declined Job Offer

As a creative agency owner, you will know how difficult it is to recruit the right people. And it’s getting tougher.

We’re currently in the toughest hiring market in living memory. Sure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the beginning of October 2021, there are 8.4 million potential workers. But there are almost 11 million open jobs. It’s a candidate’s market.

The competition for talent is intense, and it’s difficult to tell what the best candidates are looking for in a job. They might be looking for a company with a greater work-life balance or a company that offers more opportunities for professional development.

Knowing the top reasons candidates decline job offers, and how to respond to a declined job offer, will help you hire better and build a talent pool to call on in the future.

Reasons your preferred candidate just turned down your job offer

A lot of times, people turn down job offers because they don’t trust the company for which they are interviewing. The reason? Your hiring process doesn’t instill the candidate with confidence.

Another potential reason your candidate just turned down your offer could be that they found another job offer and they feel like it’s more lucrative, has better benefits, or is closer to home.

The candidate may feel that their talents and skills will be underutilized in your business. They may also not see a future with your agency.

There are also a few reasons that are more unique to creative agencies.

Here are the main reasons a candidate may have declined the offer of a job with your agency.

  1. The compensation and benefits don’t stack up

People very rarely (if ever) change jobs for less money. Today, more than ever, high-quality talent costs money. Don’t pussyfoot around. Make an offer the candidate can accept.

Don’t make an offer that needs to be negotiated – this always brings in weird tensions, and damages the employer-employee relationship before it has even begun.

  1. Your culture just isn’t cool enough

Millennials value culture above all else. If your company culture isn’t cool enough, a team of wild stallions couldn’t drag them through the door. They want to work for agencies that place value on corporate social responsibility, diversity, and inclusivity. They also want to work somewhere that is fun, and where work colleagues share their knowledge and experience.

As the leader of the agency, it’s your job to make sure that you provide an environment and culture that people want to work in. They’re working for YOU to help build YOUR dreams. So, take the time to reflect on what kind of a place people want to work in, and then do what you can to make it so in your business!

  1. The job just isn’t cool enough

Creatives are wired to do work that they consider to be cool. Work that matters to them, and that they can take pride in producing.

It may also be that a candidate realizes the job isn’t quite what they thought. They may believe it’s above their skillset, or below what they’re capable of. If this is the case, don’t be hard on yourself. The candidate has done you a favor by pulling out before you discovered they were a bad hire.

  1. The location stinks

Because of the Covid pandemic, many people have had the experience of working from home and discovered they like it. They also realize that creative work can be done remotely. They don’t need to spend hours traveling each week to sit in an office.

There is a distinction to make here between creative employees and other workers. Creatives can do their work anywhere. Others, like those in accounts, for example, do work that is highly aligned to business processes and have a greater need to be in the office.

You must be clear about where the candidate will be working.

  1. The work/life balance sucks

Work/life balance is a critical factor for many candidates, especially millennials.

Could you be more flexible with hours worked, and offer some remote work? What other rewards do you offer, such as gym memberships, health plans, healthy eating lunches, and so on?

  1. Your hiring process sucks

You took too long to make the offer, and a competitor was faster out of the gate. If you take too long to hire them, they’ll lose momentum and interest in your company. Or they’ll take a job elsewhere. You neglected to give prompt feedback. Your interviews lacked structure and cohesion.

The recruiting/hiring process should get candidates PUMPED to want to work for you! And besides, if your agency does a bad job hiring, what other things are you sucking at?

Candidates make a lot of assumptions about what it would be like to work for you based upon the quality of the hiring process. So, you better have it right. Don’t suck.

  1. There’s a lack of development opportunities

People need to see that they can learn and grow, that they will be supported and around people who are on the same path that they are on.

  1. You

Let’s face it, everyone puts their best face on in the interview, just like on a first date. I know several colleagues who quit their jobs without anything lined up because their bosses were that intolerable. If they get a not-so-good vibe from you or other people during the interview process, they’ll notice it. If they have equal options to choose from – in terms of role and compensation – and they had to wait half an hour before you opened the door to them, or if you appeared distracted or disinterested, or if you were rude… you’ve just made their decision a lot easier.

How to respond to a declined job offer

If your offer is turned down, you must take a few minutes to respond to the candidate who declined the job offer. This shows you care about the candidate and gives you an opportunity to change their mind.

If the candidate is still interested in the position, they will appreciate knowing that you are still interested in them. If they are not, then they will give insight into what candidates currently desire from a job in a creative agency.

Responding to a candidate who turned down your offer: Sample checklist

The best way to respond to a candidate who declined a job offer is by email. It’s fast and most emails are opened quickly. 

Here’s a checklist of what you should cover in an email response to a candidate who declined your job offer, in the order you should write it.

Express your gratitude for their time

Always say thank you for the candidate’s time. Remember, their time is valuable too, and the time they devoted throughout the hiring process is a reflection of their interest in the position.

Reflect on your interview

Describe the excitement the candidate gave you, how they performed, and what made you offer the job.

Mention your disappointment

Briefly say how disappointed you are that the candidate has declined the offer. You may link this back to the interview reflection, and comment on how well you think they would fit into the team, how their experience would be valuable, and so on.

Let them know your door is still open

This is the opportunity for the candidate to change their mind, and an invitation for them to approach you at another time. Remember, you should include this candidate in your talent pool to approach for future positions, too.

Request feedback

Finally, ask the candidate for specific feedback on why they are turning down the job offer.

Tips to avoid offer rejection

Most offer rejections can be avoided. We’ll talk about this in more detail in our next article, ‘Closing the deal: How to make a job offer your top candidates can’t resist’. As a heads up, you should:

  • Maintain effective communication throughout the hiring process

  • Be enthusiastic about your offer, and sell the job on what the candidate wants

  • Always offer better salary than their current salary

  • Be accurate in your explanation of benefits and perks

  • Hire faster – but correctly

  • Get a commitment from the candidate

My final tip? Download my eBook ‘Foolproof Steps to Make Your Hiring Process More Successful’, packed full of tips to help you develop your hiring process to be successful. Or you could do what many of our clients do – take advantage of our recruiting services for creative agencies.

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