Successfully Managing a Candidate During the Resignation Period

QUESTION: How do you best manage the period of time between resignation and the start date?  – Peter, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

ANSWER: Any resignation period is scary, especially in the market we are in right now where people are so aggressive in their counteroffers.  We have a very specific process on what one needs to do to close a candidate and it begins when you take a data sheet.  What do you need to see?  What do you need to see for this to be a definite yes?  Teaching this process is very too involved to share in one blog post.

We were always asking questions – If you get this, I need to know what else has to be there, if anything, so that there is nothing that your current employer can do or a competing offer can do.  Two words – no thing – they can do to keep you.  I am going to ask you for your word of honor at the end.  If you are not doing that already, incorporating “word of honor” into your closing process and you are losing placements, you will save some.  The good news is I think a lot of people still value their word.  I always make it completely okay for them to say no.

That is not what you were asking, Peter, but the best way to manage the interim process is I have the employer, their future hiring manager stay in touch with them.  I stay in touch with them too.  But they are not going to work for me.  Yes, I am going to stay in touch with them because I am going to pick up on any change in their voice vibration, if they are hesitant to want to talk to me, their words are fine but there are things you can read between the lines on.  One of the reasons I have their next employer call them, who is very busy and who does not have the time, so you have to sell it to them.  Let me go back to my point and I will tell you how to do it.

I remember one of my first jobs out of college.  I left a company I liked and I worked for the owner of the company.  I was in marketing and the owner was a mentor to me.  For a few reasons, it just was not the right role, but I was not actually actively looking for a new position.  I met somebody at a party who was a sales manager for Motorola and had a couple conversations.  I just followed that path, but I was not actively looking to leave the organization which is kind of what you guys and gals are dealing with.  I wanted that job really bad once I started interviewing for it with Motorola.  Once I got the job and I had to go in and resign from this wonderful person named Ted, President of the company, I saw the look on his face.  He was devastated.  He had been a mentor.  We were pretty close.  I was there for a couple of years.  He made me feel terrible about leaving, not from a way of evil, but oh my gosh, maybe I made the wrong decision.

Maybe I did not think about all the reasons why I should stay here.  I actually went back to my desk and I remember sitting there in incredible doubt.  Oh my gosh, I think I screwed up.  I should probably stay here, all that other stuff.  Two days later, my future boss called me from Motorola and re-congratulated me on joining the organization.  He said, “Here is what I have got lined up for you.  I have already set up your training in Schaumburg, Illinois.  I have got your company car.  I set up some times for you to drive with some other sales people.”  She talked about the whole onboarding process and how she was integrating me into her team.  She called me once or twice more just to give me updates.  I do not even know if it was strategic.  That first phone call actually pulled me across the bridge from where I was working to Motorola.  It was a tremendously emotionally impactful and reassured me and took me out of buyer’s remorse.

Because of that, I incorporated it as part of our firm’s culture.  We did this for a two weeks’ notice.  We especially did this on 30 days or 60 days’ notice.  What you want to do is incorporate whatever plans the hiring manager has for the person in their role and how they have already begun basically planning for them to be in that role as a one-to-one human connection.  When you talk to the hiring manager, some of them are like, yea, I will see what I can do.  I will go, if this person backs out you are going to have to start all over, especially if there are no backups, or once you released the backup they took something else.  I go, do you want to invest a couple 15-minute phone calls, that is all they take, over the next 2 weeks as an insurance policy against a 90 to 120-day process and maybe, and maybe, not coming up with somebody as good?  So that is a quick technique on how to manage the space and time between and resignation and the person’s start date.

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