How to retain candidates before they have even started

Are you losing candidates between their acceptance of your offer and the start date?

I have recently been recruiting for a store that opens in 8 weeks time. I was inundated with exceptional candidates who were ideal for the role, and I moved quickly to interview them and move them through the process. I managed to make an offer within 3 weeks, 5 weeks out from the start date, however, the challenge lies ahead as we will have to work hard to keep them excited, motivated and looking forward to their new role.

As I worked through a plan of attack with the store manager about how to keep her team engaged over the coming weeks, it inspired this blog post. The period between offering an in-demand candidate and their start date can be a risky time. Although they have signed the paperwork, nothing is certain until they start their first day! Outlined below are my top tips on how you can be proactive and keep your candidates inspired after you’ve offered them the job.

Make an offer quickly.

It is a tight market out there for talented candidates! If you have found a gem, the chances are, another brand are also looking at hiring them for their business. My biggest tip is don’t beat around the bush…. if you think that person is the right one, don’t try and see other candidates for the sake of comparing them, by the time your’ve done that, someone will have snapped up your ideal candidate!

You want to keep the timeframe between making a verbal offer and getting the contracts over to the candidate to an absolute minimum. Ideally, less than 48 hours.


You’ve found the right person, offered them the job, they have accepted and signed the contract and handed their 4 weeks notice in…..job done right? Wrong. The worst thing you can do as an employer is shut down the communication channels until closer to their start date.

I recommend keeping the communication open, get the line manager to call the candidate and welcome them to the team, invite them into the store/ office to meet the team and have a coffee, send over the training and induction plan and keep them excited about their new job. It’s important that you stay on their radar and you keep them motivated.

Build your brand.

There is nothing worse than a counter offer. Your candidate may have signed a contract, but chances are they have to give 4 to 6 weeks notice to their current employer, which gives their current employer 4 to 6 weeks to make an enticing counter offer to your candidate!

You can prevent your candidate from taking the dangled carrot by presenting a strong brand throughout the recruitment process. Showcase any unique offerings you have, such as career opportunities, flexible work life balance, extra annual leave, conferences and travel, basically anything that makes your business a desirable employer.