3 Tactics That Will Help You Successfully Close Candidates, According to LinkedIn’s Head of Recruiting

September 13, 2018

Having your job offer shot down is like having a marriage proposal nixed—both mark the end of an unsuccessful courtship that will leave one party pretty bummed out (to say the least).

There’s no doubt every recruiter wants to avoid this situation. And according to LinkedIn’s Head of Recruiting, Brendan Browne, it’s possible. You have to start by asking yourself: When you make an offer, do you know what the candidate will say? Or are you crossing your fingers? According to Brendan, if you don’t want any surprises, you need a better strategy than lighting a candle or knocking on wood.

“Let’s talk about how to remove all that guesswork,” Brendan says, “and increase your acceptance rate.” In this week’s episode of Talent on Tap, Brendan shares three tactics to help do just that and close candidates successfully:

1.Prepare, prepare, prepare

Brendan believes that preparation is the absolute key to closing.

“Number one,” he says, “do you actually know what your candidates want?  

Brendan encourages his recruiters to go deeper than just asking a candidate what are their top three motivators. “You need to make sure you truly understand the hopes and dreams and future vision” of your candidate, he says. “What do they really want to do? What is their dream job?”

In most cases a candidate is looking for something more nuanced and complex than a simple salary bump. “Most candidates seek more than a bigger paycheck,” says Andrew LaCivita, the CEO of milewalk and author of The Hiring Prophecies: Psychology Behind Recruiting Successful Employees. “They look for what I call the Employer’s Value Package—those tangible and intangible reasons an employee would choose to leave or stay with an employer”—corporate culture, role, career development, people, etc.

While LinkedIn data shows that better compensation and benefits are the No. 1 reason employees accepted their current jobs (45%), it also reveals that opportunities for advancement (44%) and challenging work (44%) are essentially just as important.

Brendan counsels his team to push and probe—tactfully, politely, determinedly—until they completely understand what a candidate wants out of his or her career. Then he coaches recruiters to clearly demonstrate how their company can best deliver a path to that dream workspace.

2. Instill a sense of urgency . . .

Brendan likes to remind his recruiting team that they are driving the hiring process.

“One thing I see recruiters miss often,” he says, “is the urgency in closing a candidate needs to come from you. ”

He says a sense of urgency has to drive both the candidate and the internal stakeholders, including the hiring manager. “Are you putting the right people in the right conversations at the right time?” Brendan asks. “Are you treating the point of ‘It looks like we’re going to move toward offer’ with incredibly high urgency?”

According to Brendan, recruiters are choreographers of the entire hiring process and have to make sure to put deadlines in place and communicate them clearly to the candidate and the hiring manager. This is the only way to avoid a prolonged process that gives your best candidate time to check out other options.

Brendan believes that urgency should also drive what you’re willing to do to land the right candidate. For example, if he’s found a great engineer, he says, “there’s no one at LinkedIn I wouldn’t call” to get on the phone or meet with the candidate—immediately. “That type of urgency,” he says, “is what is necessary to show how much we care about a candidate.”

3. . . . but don’t make an offer until the candidate is ready

“Every time you’re with a candidate, ask them, ‘Money aside, would you take this job today?’” Brendan says. “Continue to ask that question. Any small pause, any hesitation, any delay in response, say, in an email, is an indication to you as a recruiter that you have more work to do.”

Brendan encourages recruiters to remain as curious as a cat and ask lots of questions: Why wouldn’t you accept this offer here? Assume that that company is going to pay you more, would you want to go there?

You need to control the sale, so to speak, at every step of the process. Eliminate any guesswork.

Once candidates tell Brendan that they can see themselves at LinkedIn, he reminds them that this is a critical decision. “’How are you going to make this decision?’” Brendan says. “’Talk me through who you’re going to talk to.’ Understand their decision-making process. And then put a timetable on this decision.”

Don’t lose the sense of urgency.

But urgency, somewhat counterintuitively, may also demand that you walk away from a candidate. Brendan says, “If they’re not sure and this isn’t in their heart what they want to do, it is okay to walk away.” At some point, you may want to refocus your effort on Candidate No. 2.

Final thoughts

Brendan believes that if recruiters have done their groundwork, deftly addressing a candidate’s hopes and dreams and compensation needs, the offer becomes—ideally—a mere formality.

“You want a candidate fully informed,” Brendan says, “uncovering all the issues they may have, so when they do make a decision to join your company, they’re going to stick around for a long time and be a highly valuable, high-quality hire for you.”