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Survey Finds Half of Candidates Have Accepted a Job Offer Before Reneging

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​In another sign of declining loyalty by employees toward employers, a recent survey found that 50 percent of candidates accepted a job offer between May 2022 and May 2023, backed out, then started working for another employer. HR consultancy Gartner conducted the study of nearly 3,500 respondents.

According to the survey, among nearly 2,000 respondents who recently started a new job, 47 percent said they were still open to other job offers, and 42 percent believed they could find a better job if they kept looking.

"Competition for talent remains steep," said Jamie Kohn, senior research director in the Gartner HR practice and author of the report. "We are seeing many candidates uncommitted to their new employer and keeping one foot in the job market."

Jim Sykes, global managing director at AMS, an HR consulting firm based in London, said he has not seen offer decline levels as high as those in the Gartner survey, but trends do point to employees feeling less loyal to employers.

"The dynamics of this job market are very different than we would have seen a decade ago," he said. "Talent is in demand, and candidates are in multiple application processes at the same time. Recruiters report that candidates are often receiving counteroffers once they accept a job."

Candidates currently have a lot more options when job searching, especially with the explosion of remote opportunities, Kohn said. "Another big change is that candidates have fundamentally shifted their expectations of work and how work should fit with the rest of their life," she noted.

More than half (56 percent) of respondents said their employee experience is just as important to their job satisfaction as compensation and benefits.

Top drivers cited by candidates for accepting a new job offer include greater flexibility (59 percent), better work/life balance (45 percent) and higher compensation (40 percent).

"Nearly 90 percent of candidates said they have exited a hiring process due to at least one mismatch in employee value proposition preferences," Kohn said. "This includes compensation and benefits, but also things like flexibility in working hours, career pathing, skills development, team diversity and management style."

Kohn added that as more employers have begun pushing for a return to the office (RTO), candidates clearly prefer to work remotely, at least some of the time.

"There's a growing divide," she said. "As companies have shifted their policies around RTO and shifted productivity expectations, we're seeing employees feeling less loyal to remain."

The shift to more virtual hiring could also exacerbate the disconnect between candidates and employers. "It's harder for candidates to get a feel for the organization they are applying to and their experience once they join is sometimes not what they expected," Kohn said. "Employers have to work a lot harder to build that lasting connection with new hires."

Sykes added that employers also have more tools than ever before to engage with and entice job seekers and passive candidates, and they're getting better at finding people in the labor market with the skills they need.

What Employers Can Do

Kohn offered the following tips for employers to retain candidates at the final stage of the hiring process:

  • Have candidates meet or speak with hiring managers early in the process. "Have the hiring manager be the first one to reach out to a candidate," she said. "Candidates will be more likely to commit to their job acceptance decision if they have a connection with the hiring manager or their future colleagues."
  • Continue to engage people after they have accepted an offer. "It's during those weeks after an offer acceptance but before the start date when the doubt creeps in," she said. "Keep them engaged and excited, and reinforce to them that they made the right decision."


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