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Woo: (verb)

to solicit favor or approval; entreat

Every couple of months, it comes to my attention that #1) many employers think that recruiting and hiring are simple and #2) many employers are not prepared or equipped to deal with the challenges that come with recruiting top talent.

We’ve written a lot on the topic of recruiting and hiring preparedness over the years. Please make sure to read Working with Recruiters: For Companies and Working with Recruiters: 3 More Tips for Companies. This time around, I’d like to focus on this idea of “wooing” candidates. Does it sound too “touchy feely” for some of you? Does it sound like too much work?

Well, tough. This is the current job climate.

How do you plan on wooing your candidates? Here are some suggestions.


Be Prepared for Multiple Conversations

At the most basic level, you are asking someone to commit to your company in a meaningful way. That takes time for anyone that is thoughtful about their work. More specifically, if you are only interested in considering passive candidates (please see my analysis of active vs. passive candidates), then you are asking them to make several really big leaps, including:

  1. Considering leaving their job, when it may not have even previously occurred to them. This consideration will prove to be even more difficult if they’re up next for a promotion; or maybe the company culture in their existing role is great!
  2. Taking on a new role; a role that is not familiar, in a company that is not familiar.
  3. Rethinking a whole set of logistics including salary, benefits, work hours, commute time, etc.

When you are talking with a passive candidate, you have to be ready for multiple conversations; this is not going to be a quick transaction. And let me be clear, if you want a quick transaction, then you’ve waited too long to start the recruiting process. If you’re looking for a quick hire, you would be better served to post the position and be ready to consider any number of active candidates.

And let me be clear, if you want a quick transaction, then you’ve waited too long to start the recruiting process.

In my experience, I have 2-3 conversations with candidates, both passive and active, in the screening/evaluating stage. We are getting to know each other, we are exploring their current role; what works and what doesn’t work. I am also setting the stage for the new role; and then they go away and think about it. And they usually come back with a list of questions. This is where things get juicy. Questions range from logistical (see #3 above) to much more specific, because let’s be honest, why would anyone consider leaving their job unless the new opportunity was better?

Be Involved

And while we’re on the topic of conversations, WHO they talk to matters. The majority of candidates appreciate hearing from me; I’m a friendly voice and I’m genuinely interested in where they are in life and where they’re headed. We have great, meaningful conversations. But there’s so much more that needs to happen in order for someone to make that leap. In volleyball terms, I’m setting up the ball but the hiring manager (or internal representative) needs to be ready to spike it. This requires careful thought and planning, honesty, transparency, humility, passion and enthusiasm. In short, it requires wooing.

A candidate should feel valued. So, if the majority of their communication is with a recruiter, whose specific job it is to fill a requisition, then the shine rubs off really quickly. Conversely, speaking with and meeting with the hiring manager lets a candidate know that this process is important; that the company is engaged in the decision-making because it is so important and that the role is vital to the team. And who doesn’t want to feel valued? Especially when making a very important decision.

Be Flexible

Flexibility is a game changer for two reasons. First, if you are able to be flexible about things like title, pay, hours, benefits, start date, etc., you are letting the candidate know that you are prioritizing their needs and wants; paramount to wooing.

And most obviously, flexibility is what allows you to put together a competitive offer. How your offer stacks up to their current role, or to other offers, is what will ultimately encourage them to make the decision to join your team. Especially when presented in conjunction with a carefully thought out and executed screening and interview process, taking the time to answer questions and address their needs as they consider a change and making them feel valued.


Are you ready to woo your candidates? It may sound like a lot of work, but I assure you that making the wrong hire will create even more work, over a longer period of time. Put together your plan, your timeline, your hiring team and then be prepared to be flexible about all of it in order to win the candidate. Best of luck!