Change. Some of us seek it out, embrace it and require it as fuel for motivation. Others dread it like a daily dose of cod liver oil. As a change agent, much of my time at closing is guiding the candidate through the final phases of making the decision as to whether they'll take an opportunity, or not.
Though money and career advancement can be prime motivators, in many cases, no matter how rich the incentive is, a candidate falters during the offer process. Why do some people make tougher decisions easier than others? In my experience, there are a couple of critical factors driving how some individuals make/come to their decisions. Much of it has to do with years of experience. For those career savvy execs who have their eye on the prize, moving to another company is another strategic rung on the ladder to success. These individuals are focused primarily on title, compensation, growth opportunity and strategic career positioning. If I present a role that hits all these buttons, bingo - a decision is made.
But what of the mid-level exec who struggles with the very thought of leaving their company? Yes, fear of change - but why? Are they so locked into their current role that they don't want to make the effort to leave? In my experience, no. At least not for the types of candidates and expertise I typically recruit for. They're certainly career motivated, yet often struggle with making that next big step. I do believe some of it is gender specific. Women, for the most part are relationship oriented. Leaving a team they've built and mentored can be difficult. Their sense of personal loyalty trumps professional growth. Outside factors, such as work/life balance, commute time and who is going to pick up the kids while investing the time in a new job play a role in making a decision to go to a new company as well. Men are more likely to make calculated decisions based on compensation, title/promotion and career path. Though loyalty is important, it is not the driving force.
In addition, the longer an individual resides at one company, the harder it can be to make a transition. On the flip side, if they're deemed a lifer, they may be viewed as too set in their current company's ways. And there may be a correlation to this in how difficult the decision is to leave that role.
So what exactly feeds fear of change? The unknown is infinitely more scary than the known. At least in their present role, a candidate knows where he/she stands. They're successful, liked, comfortable with their responsibilities, respected by their peers. And don't underestimate the fear an employee feels about giving notice. Tending their resignation is the first step in the emotional roller coaster of saying goodbye to the old and embracing the new. In addition, a new role may test their knowledge and stretch their bandwidth. Can they handle getting uncomfortable? Establishing oneself in a new company requires proving oneself all over again, building new relationships and alliances (and remembering all those new names and faces!). It means taking a risk - and let's face it some folks are more risk averse than others. The less risk averse tend to analyze making a decision to the point of not being able to make a decision - almost a protective shield to talk themselves out of stepping up to the plate.
These types of candidates are almost always the most challenging to influence and close. They project a mixed signal. They want the job, but can't put their finger on that last ounce of hesitancy. If you pursue too hard, they back off. If you don't help them through the process, their interest may dwindle. The hiring manager doesn't understand why they're not champing at the bit to join their rockstar company. The more analytical the process, the more emotional the decision.
For the fence sitter, it's hard to focus on what they're gaining, because they're so intent on what they're losing. My role is to constantly guide them on the path forward, reminding them of their initial excitement and why they considered making a change in the first place. To offer them the tools to help them plan through every stage of the transition, from giving their notice, to countering the counter offer (and believe me, they are susceptible) while envisioning their first days and weeks with their new opportunity. It's walking the fine line of melding consideration into belief.