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Are You Going Through Death Valley When You Recruit ?

Death Valley

Stephen Brown

Let me explain what I mean by ‘Death Valley’, this is the part of your recruitment journey where you have done all the really hard stuff (like writing your role brief, advertising the job, searching for candidates, engaging recruiters, hours of reading CV’s, interviewing, testing, deliberating, making an offer etc).

It’s the bit where you have had your offer accepted, your chosen one is going to resign from their current employer and you are waiting for them to start (usually in several weeks, or months’ time).

And why is it a ‘Valley of Death’?

Because this is when most recruitment processes fail, your candidate is made a counteroffer, or an offer elsewhere because they are so sought after.

It is also the point where you have invested about as much as you can into the recruiting process and for it to fail now puts you right back to the start, a bit like that long snake near the end of a game of snakes and ladders! And as you can imagine, there are plenty of snakes in ‘Death Valley’!

So how can you improve your offered candidate’s chances of making it across the valley and into the arms of your business on the other side?

Firstly, don’t think that because your candidate has accepted your offer that your work is done. This is where your work really begins and it’s all about communication.

  • Don’t just send them a letter and a contract, message them, congratulate and welcome them, make a personalised welcome video, advise them on when and how you will keep checking in.

  • Ask them to let you know when they have resigned and what their current boss had to say about it (to gauge likelihood of them staying).

  • Use reasons to stay in touch, invite them to a company function or event.

  • Stay in touch on their favoured social media, sharing any company news and updates.

  • Ask for their ideas on the things they will be working with you on.

  • Invite them back in to meet any team member they may have missed during the selection process.

  • Send them pictures of their new work environment, equipment, or things of relevance.

  • Send them learning material to help them familiarise themselves with the role.

  • Ask them how they are feeling at every step or if anything has changed.

  • This is not really HR’s job, it’s really the role of the Line Manager to build this relationship with their new report.

  • Send employee survey results (only if they’re positive!) or any employee testimonials, videos or endorsements to cement their decision to join you (avoid what is known in marketing as “post cognitive dissonance”, basically buyer’s remorse!).

  • Be prepared for their arrival, have their workspace set up, set time aside for a tour, introductions, and welcomes.

  • Hand hold them through their first steps in your business, discuss their work and help them plan their first days.

  • Remind them of the match between you and explain the company’s values and expectations

  • Continuously remind them of their excellent decision to join you, with affirming actions and discussion.

  • Keep this going for 100 days after they have started, as this is when they are most vulnerable to being missed by their former employer, their CV still has a pulse in the marketplace and their expectations of your business are under the most scrutiny. Every time they see a friend or family member one of the first questions they will be asked is “how’s your new job going?”

We have a client who took this concept quite literally and put up a large poster of Death Valley on their office wall, moving the names of new recruits along the picture on post-it notes as each check point was completed. By systemising the process, they improved recruitment success by 65% and saved £000’s.

As specialist recruiters for engineering and manufacturing businesses we get to what works well every day and happily share best practice with you to improve your business through people.
If you would like to work with us to find, select and attract the best people for your business, contact us on 01530 833825, or email