Let me start by saying that whilst some candidates do withdraw from a job offer, this is not the norm. Changes in the marketplace have influenced some candidates to withdraw from job offers and the reasons candidates give are varied.
If this happened to you in the past, or you are dealing with it right now, we want to share some insight into why this might be.
The reasons why candidates withdraw from job offers
They have not heard from you since you agreed upon the start date
The last communication they received from you confirmed their start date as well as some details on who to report to on arrival and at what time. It has been a few weeks and they have heard nothing from you.
Doubts can start to creep in – does this new employer really care about me joining?
Reality has set in
Once someone has handed in their notice, and other people in their business know that they are leaving, reality can quickly set in. Other stakeholders have shared their sadness and suddenly the candidate might start having doubts about leaving.
It can be easy at this point for candidates to become nostalgic about their time in their business and can persuade themselves (and be persuaded by others) that things are better than they think. They might reverse their decision, and pick the safe option – staying put.
An increased counteroffer has been put on the table
Your candidate rejected the original counteroffer by their current employer and has told you they are delighted to be joining you. Why would a new counteroffer be on the table in their notice period?
Some businesses panic. They realise that it is going to be extremely hard to replace this person before they leave and they now need to use aggressive tactics to make them stay. Your candidate is now faced with a new counteroffer, better than before. It can take a highly motivated candidate to turn this down.
The candidate has gained more intel on what they are worth
A lot of candidates will be aware of their worth in the market when they accept a job offer. Yet we do see, that candidates who have not changed jobs for a prolonged period or were passive to job opportunities, might not have had all the information they should have.
Suddenly they are seeing job opportunities everywhere, with better packages on offer. The job offer they accepted does not seem as good as they once thought.
It is real and more people than you realise suffer from it. Imposter syndrome can be defined as an internal experience where a person doubts or does not believe in their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent feeling of being exposed as a fraud.
Why does this make people withdraw from jobs? A person with imposter syndrome could simply convince themselves that they cannot do this new job and it would be better if they withdrew before the start date.
This can be more commonplace when someone is moving into a more senior position within a new business.
A candidate’s worth has increased since you made your offer
Long notice periods are never ideal for either party. You want them on your team as quickly as possible, and they might be increasingly withdrawing from their business too. However, legally and in most cases, they will have to work to their contracted notice period.
This can create an issue if within this time, a candidate’s worth increases. Candidate and skill shortages can swiftly ramp up a candidate’s worth in the marketplace. If they are in demand and they know they are worth more, they could agree to a more attractive offer and one that reflects their new current value.
More job offers have been put on the table
When they accepted your job offer, the candidate believed that there were no other job offers on the table that they were going to entertain. Out of the blue, they have been contacted and offered another job, and in some cases more than one. This opens up choices and puts your offer under the magnifying glass again. Unfortunately, sometimes you will not win.
They realise they don’t align with your values or culture
Since a candidate accepted your job offer, your brand will become more prevalent to them. They might spend some more time on your website, following you on social media and reading news articles. This will normally add to their feeling of belonging and being part of the business. But things can go wrong.
If what they see in the outside world feels contradictory to how the brand’s values and culture were sold to them at the interview, it can cause some unease. It might start bringing up doubts about whether this is the right business for them. Employees prioritise that their employer’s values match their own.
Their personal circumstances have changed
Unforeseen circumstances can occur and no one can predict these. Illness, divorce, job loss, care responsibilities, pregnancy, or even an unfortunate death can impact a candidate. As humans, we can find change difficult, and a significant change as we have mentioned, might make the candidate want to stay put, with an employer who knows them and who they might believe can give them more support and empathy. It can be difficult to know how a new employer might react and how compassionate they will be in with a candidate’s new set of circumstances.
Many of the reasons why people withdraw from job offers before their first day are because of the lack of engagement they have had from their new employer. Many of the reasons we have given could have been counteracted by a regular communications plan and check-ins.