With the up-tick in hiring, it is very unlikely that the candidate with the perfect resume who applies to your on-line job posting will accept your job offer!

In other words, unless his is desperate, a top talent candidate that is actively looking is more likely to turn-down your job offer more often than a recruited candidate. In this case, a recruited candidate is an applicant who is not actively engaged in a job search!

This may sound a little farfetched, especially when comparing someone that is actively looking to someone not actively looking for a job; so I will explain by using the basic principles of headhunting 101!

Both the active and recruited candidate will have the perfect resume for the skills that you are searching for, and most likely will go through the same mental thought process. Also, in order for any candidate to become interested in exploring career opportunities, there has to be a strong desire or motivation to prompt that individual to take action. In this case, taking action means physically going through the job search process.

What are the actionable motivations that will inspire top talent to explore job opportunities?

They are the same motivations that would inspire anyone to take action; specifically a shorter commute, supportive working environment, work/life balance, faster career progression, more visibility, or more money. But what actually triggers that motivation is of most importance.

So why is one candidate more likely than the other to turn down your job offer? It is simply boils down to a need verses a want!

Let’s take a look at motivations from a need and a want perspective:

From the recruited candidate’s perspective, the interview process is personal. It’s personal because that specific job opportunity has application to his unique circumstances. The revelation of his problems/needs was uncovered or created during conversations with a professional headhunter. After a series of conversations, the job opportunity has become invaluable to the candidate because it was framed in such a way as to inspire that individual to take action. Whenever the right job is presented to the right candidate in the right manner, an emotional connection between the candidate and his perception of the specific job will develop. That perception will transform a mindset from “I am happy where I am” to “what is the next step”. The end result is that a job offer becomes a commitment to earn the right to own that job opportunity and the entire interview process becomes a fulfilling life experience and a rewarding journey.

On the other hand, the top talent who is presently active in a job search is basically on a fishing expedition. This is simply a transactional exercise with limited emotionally attachment to any particular opportunity. The active candidate knows what he is looking for; so he will network on LinkedIn, he will apply directly to job postings and reach out to many recruiters with a proposition for them to make a quick placement fee. Since he is beyond the revelation of needs stage, his objective is not just to get the job, but to get a goofy offer (20% increase). This means they will evaluate multiple job opportunities, have multiple job offers to choose from or to use as leverage for counter offer purposes. A written job offer is not the end game; it’s only a tool and just another step in his evaluation process.

Based on many years of working a recruitment desk, the most frustrating and often difficult closes occurred when dealing with the candidates that have reached out to me on their own initiatives, whether by referral or other means.

While an active job applicant may have the resume of the perfect candidate; he is the type of applicant that will cause mayhem to your recruitment outcome and therefore must be immediately screen out of the applicant pool very early in the process. If that motivation trigger is not identified and explored during the initial interview, you will most likely extend the job offer to the wrong applicant and will have to start the entire process all over again.

The next time your prayer has been answered because the perfect resume for that hard to fill position magically appears in your inbox; instead of excitingly arranging an interview with the hiring manager; become diligent and probe to uncover the trigger that will determine if it is a need or a want that brought that applicant to you. This step will help you spot a potential turn-down before it happens.