How to Handle Losing Your Top Candidate

I recently read an article about not getting your dream job. It was an interesting perspective from the candidate’s point of view and it got me thinking — do hiring managers and companies react similarly when losing their top candidate? The answer: Absolutely. Imagine: As an employer, you think you’ve found the one — a candidate who seems to be the right fit in all aspects from culture to skills to experience. You are elated, relieved, and ready to offer them the job. But wait…they just accepted another offer! Or, worse, maybe they expressed interest but took a counter offer. You’re crushed. Now what? Here are some tips for coping with the loss.

4 Tips for How to Handle Losing Your Top Candidate

1) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Think you found the one? Great! But under no circumstances should you stop interviewing or building your candidate pipeline. You can’t count on your dream candidate joining the team until they accept the offer. You should always work to ensure you have other candidates that you like and would hire as viable alternative options. Keep the pipeline full until you have a signed offer in hand.

2) Reflect on your mistakes and move on

Did you delay the process too much? Did you low-ball the offer? Reflect on any possible misstep, learn from it, and then let it go. It won’t help to dwell or beat yourself up. Now you know what you did wrong and you can avoid the same mistake next time.

3) Remember that “the one” doesn’t really exist

In all likelihood, there are many candidates out there with the same skillset and experience as the person you lost. Who knows? Maybe missing out on them was actually a blessing in disguise to give you a chance to screen more candidates and find one who is even more perfect. Don’t be discouraged because you lost one candidate, there are many out there who would love to work for you!

4) Keep in touch

So your top candidate took another job or a counter offer — maybe that doesn’t work out. Maybe they start to pursue other opportunities in the next six months or year, and maybe you have a position that would be a match for them. Just like that, you have a great new hire! Losing great candidates can be discouraging. It is almost like dating. You just need to remember to keep your head up and sure enough another great candidate will come along. Have you lost a top candidate recently? How did you cope and move on?

Senior Talent Manager, Engineering
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