David Galloreese

During the recruitment of any great candidate, there’s a constant dance of “selling” between candidate and company. This culminates when the company presents its grand final pitch — the official job offer. Anyone in the recruiting world knows the art that goes into this. From demonstrating the values of a company’s culture to tying a ribbon on top of an offer, there’s a considerable, personalized effort put into converting each and every great candidate into a great employee. But focusing all your sell on the candidate might be a mistake.

Remember: Behind every great candidate, there’s a great influencer (or five).

Rare is the individual that makes decisions in a vacuum. Rarer still is the candidate who accepts a new role without a second opinion. If you’re not keeping that second, or third, or fourth, or fifth opinion in mind during the recruiting process and tailoring your “sell” accordingly, you’re missing a big opportunity to connect with your candidates — and  may be kissing them goodbye without even realizing it.

So who are some of these influencers? Here are some of the people you’ll be hiring along with your candidate:

1. Parents

Why they matter: Whether you’re in the business of hiring recent graduates or seasoned executives, parents can still hold huge sway over your candidates. From wanting the best for their children to simply wanting to be near them (to full-on helicoptering and back again), this is a relationship recruiters should seek to understand.

How to “hire” them: Think of what a parent, especially of an early grad, might prioritize. Of course, there are things like salary and insurance and office location — hygiene factors — but many parents have invested heavily in the development of their children. They want to make sure that that college tuition will someday mean something and that their child is setting out on a solid career path. Address this by supplying the candidate with information regarding personal development and career pathing — and by making sure that hygiene factors are spelled out in an easy to digest (non-HR-y) way. You could even create content that communicates “Graduates of Our Company Have Gone on to Do Great Things.” In other words, rest assured, Mom and Dad, just because you haven’t heard of the company doesn’t mean it’s not a great career springboard.

2. Classmates and Mentors

Why they matter: Whether in or out of school, it’s not uncommon for people to reach out to their college network. They’ll seek advice from mentors and classmates — and even use the career success of their peers to benchmark their own against. It’s important to remember that not all professors and career centers will have heard of you, and that some classmates will bias their advice toward the “household name” brands they are interviewing with or already work for.

How to “hire” them: Though part of wooing this network comes down to your longer-term recruiting brand, there are steps you can take immediately to empower candidates to educate their peers and mentors about your company. This could be literally anything — from a dry brochure to a funny video — that adequately communicates about your company and creates excitement.  It’s also important to keep “candidate experience” front-of-mind. Whether or not they eventually secure a position at your company, candidates will share their interview experiences and interactions with your company with their peers. They will inevitably compare and contrast experiences with different companies, and it can absolutely have a big influence. Think about it: If your friend had a miserable interviewing experience, but still got an offer — what would you advise them to do?

3. Former Colleagues

Why they matter: More experienced candidates have a work history that has shaped their expectations — and a host of former colleagues that will advise them if they feel those expectations won’t be met at their next job. These candidates will turn to former colleagues to find out more about your company and perhaps (if not likely) dig through their network until they can speak with one of your current or former employees. This group of influencers is most familiar with your candidate’s working style, environmental preferences, and office personality — and may try to map their advice accordingly, even if they don’t know much about your company.

How to “hire” them: The easiest way to preemptively mollify the influence of this group is through simple interview questions. Through the interview process, ask questions about former jobs and workplaces. Find out what the candidate did and didn’t like, and even what type of environment and style they prefer. You can then much more easily position your sell over top of this data.

4. Spouses/SOs

Why they matter: This is potentially the most crucial decision maker in your candidate’s life — and one you should start accounting for early in the recruiting process.

How to “hire” them: Some companies are in the habit of using the blunt instrument of money as a mind-changer late in the offer process. But most would be better off knowing much earlier on certain “deal-breaking” details. For example: Is relocation really an option? You can try and convince the “I” all you like, but it’s hard without the crucial  “we” onboard. Of course, if you think the SO is willing to be convinced otherwise, then things like relocation bonuses, housing search help, inclusive insurance plans, or an invitation for the couple to visit the office and surrounding area are absolutely in your bag of tricks. But what it may really come down to is understanding — early on — what’s most important to your candidate and their spouse and how you can tailor your offer (or not) accordingly. Heck, perhaps you could even literally hire the spouse!

5. Children

Why they matter: They don’t necessarily give job or career advice, but they represent another significant influence for many candidates.

How to “hire” them: When bringing kids to the table, go beyond the standards of maternity leave and time off to collect information on school districts, set up chats with other parents in your company, and invite the kids to the next company picnic. Know if your company can offer stability and seek to understand what the candidate looks for in a community — then be sure to be honest about if the position can provide all that’s desired.

We’ve used the word “sell” when it comes to making an offer, but for each of these influencers, we by no means encourage you and your company to be insincere, nor to breach privacy in the quest for understanding. If the candidate has volunteered information about the important people in their life, honor their admission by keeping the concerns of all parties in mind. And remember, you can’t make everyone happy. You should be looking for candidates who can strike a healthy balance between seeking good advice for their network of influencers — and living by the strength of their own personal goals and convictions.

Photo credit: Randy Chiu