I recently called one of our clients to congratulate him on a hire he made. I didn’t call him because he got the candidate he wanted--that WAS a major win--but because of the way he did it. He offered the candidate the compensation he requested, which was within the range we had discussed. He didn’t try to low-ball him.

“So,” you say, “what’s so remarkable about that? Isn’t that obvious, the way every hire should go?”

Yes, absolutely. That’s the way every hire should go, but often they don’t. Too frequently employers can’t resist the temptation to save a few thousand bucks by offering just below what the candidate expects. Sometimes this is done in anticipation of a negotiation. Other times it’s simply to save some money. Sometimes the employer gives more during a negotiation; often the candidate simply accepts the low offer without negotiating. Not all candidates realize they are free to negotiate, and some simply find it distasteful.

As a search consultant, I find it sad to hear a candidate say, “I’ll take the offer, but I wish…” In my opinion, this is an opportunity missed by the employer. Healthcare IT is challenging enough, especially lately, and nothing seems easy. Yet, this is an easy one, a “no brainer,” as they say.

Offering candidates what’s expected and desired has a magical effect. It tells candidates that they’re valued and respected. It creates immediate goodwill, loyalty, and eagerness, making them excited about joining the team and contributing. Low-ball offers have the opposite effect.

We have one particularly insightful client that likes to surprise candidates by offering slightly more than what’s expected. To me, this guy gets it.

Handled well, the courting of a candidate is a series of steps, with momentum leading up to a climax: the job offer. How the offer is handled determines whether it is indeed climactic … or anti-climactic.

The health care I.T. labor market has quickly shifted from an employers’ market to a candidates’ market. As employees realize they’re in greater and greater demand, loyalty and goodwill will go a long way toward keeping a staff both stable and engaged. Cultivating these feelings right from the beginning of the relationship is smart business … and it’s easy.

Jim Gibson has been in health care for over 25 years. In 2002 he founded Gibson Consultants after several years in healthcare IT and group health insurance. Gibson Consultants is a national search firm specializing in healthcare IT companies.

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