Why Don’t Candidates Want to Work for You?

Posted by Steve Thomas , Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada on Monday, July 10, 2023

Attracting talented staff is instrumental to the success of any company. If you are experiencing difficulty in recruiting a full contingent of staff, have you conducted an audit or survey to discover why those that didn’t come and work for you, made that decision? Such surveys will produce bespoke data that can be acted upon to make the candidate journey into your employment a smoother and more efficient and successful one. 

However, from over 20 years’ of interviewing and recruiting construction jobseekers, the team at Maxim know most of the main problem areas. Here is a ‘cheat sheet’ of the most common reasons why candidates who were initially interested in becoming an employee with a client either walk away or ultimately turn down offers of employment.

Poor Job Descriptions

A good job description needs to be clear, concise, honest and contain the information to make it clear whether the potential applicant is or is not a match for the role being described.  It must also provide information about the employer; factually based, but also give a clear idea of the employer culture and way they go about their business. Describing your company culture in a straightforward and positive way will immediately attract more candidate applicants. Are you an inclusive and collaborative company who recognises and rewards success?   How do you do it?  Are there any case studies to show this in action? After all, why would you wait to 2nd or 3rd interview to establish if a candidate is a fit for the role?

Read our thorough pieces on job descriptions:

It is highly recommended that all job descriptions advertised directly and supplied to recruitment consultancies such as Maxim Recruitment are all checked to contain the best information and best possible first impression.

Missing Salary Information

Arguably this is also part of the job description, however this point is important enough to mention separately.  Giving a salary, salary range or salary banding is a very helpful way to attract suitable candidates and exclude timewasters and candidates that don’t match what is on offer.  If someone is not prepared to work for the money on offer, their CV application is not worth you receiving, processing and selecting for interview. 

If you are hiding the salary level or salary range because you are not prepared to pay your existing staff what you will need to pay new staff then you will do well to retain your current staff never mind recruit others; this is not a professional reason to omit salary details on a job description.

There is no problem giving a salary range and then advising candidate applicants where they are likely to fit within the advertised salary range – as long as you can evidence it on the basis of the qualifications and experience that they need to gain in order to reach the top end of the scale in due course.  This is a great way to encourage more candidate applications.

Salary expectations need to be managed from the start – both with candidates and with employers needing to pay at least the market rate to secure the best talent.

Delays to the Selection and Interview Process

Taking too long to respond to candidate applications can cause candidates to become disinterested in your company and demotivated to continue pursuing a role with you. “Time kills all deals” the saying goes, and it is true within recruitment. Why wait for applications to other employers to be read and the candidate being invited to other interviews before you contact them?  How about a 24 hour turnaround to acknowledge applications and another 24 hours timeframe to reject or invite exciting candidates for interview after other colleagues in the recruitment team have also seen the application details?  No one likes to feel like a reserve or 2nd or 3rd choice candidate, so why not make candidates feel special and that you are interested in them quickly and have a head start to hiring them before their interest fades and their other options increase?

Job Offers Made at Disappointing/Derisory Salary Levels

If you are struggling to find suitable candidates in a tight market, why would you think that a good candidate would accept a job offer for less than they are currently earning (apart from in exceptional circumstances)?  The cost of living is rising and there is a risk attached to changing jobs and good candidates know it.  Employers need to be aware of this and make the move attractive for candidates.

Few employers consider the opportunity cost of interviewing lots of candidates and actually ending up employing a very small number of them.  Time is money, and for a 2 or 3 stage interview process, often attended by multiple members of senior management, the reduction in fee utilisation or just the simple salary costs spent on interviewing are significant and mount up quickly.  This is why a good recruitment consultant, like those working at Maxim Recruitment will unashamedly ask for details of what salary range is available and will “pre-close” suitable candidates on their target salary levels to ensure only matching candidates are presented for interview.

Benefits/Package/WFH Arrangements/Bonus/Holidays/Sick Pay Offering is not Competitive or Appropriate

Salary is usually the main headline item that employment deals are secured on, however many candidates will look at the overall package in the round – both relating to remuneration but also relating to work-life balance and employment security also.  If an employer is offering long term career options, perhaps they should also be offering employment security, profit share and a culture of trust to allow working from home where it is genuinely of no negative business consequence to do so.  If you are short of good applicants and new recruits all 5 of these areas could be worth reviewing.

You Are Not Using a Recruitment Agency – or….
You Are Not Using a Premium Recruitment Agency

Trying to recruit directly without using a recruitment agency is brave – and often not successful. Assuming that recruitment fees can be afforded if justified, why not have healthy competition between the internal recruitment / talent team and external recruiters?

But don’t use any old recruiter - if you are not working with a premium agency that understands the niche section of the construction industry you are recruiting in, and is operating ethically and to high standards of research, interviewing and shortlisting you could still be wasting your time.  You should expect 1-3 CVs for each live vacancy and then a conversation – not a torrent of terrible CVs and a hard sales call to get you to interview all of them.

Whether you “like” recruitment agencies / recruitment consultancies or not, it is almost universally accepted that recruitment agencies are essential in order to secure the best talent in an industry desperately short of premium candidates.  Many candidates registered with agencies are ‘sleeping candidates’ that are not on the open market and who won’t respond to an expensive ad hoc LinkedIn advert posted in haste.  Agencies like Maxim have a reach into candidate pools that justify the recruitment fee that will become payable only upon a successful hire being made.

In Conclusion

Returning to the question of “Why Don’t Candidates Want to Work for You”, it is worth reflecting that many construction industry company employers do have candidates that want to work for them – and a great many of these candidates are never entering the open jobs market at all.  They are being fed directly into premium employers as a part of highly efficient recruitment campaigns regularly undertaken in partnership with their preferred specialist recruitment agency; or that’s our experience of how things work at least.

At Maxim, we have worked with many of our favourite employer clients for many years and we can offer a premium recruitment service where the candidates presented want to work for the employer before they even go for interview.  As the premium employer of choice, ‘all’ you have to do is to write a good job description for us, agree with us competitive salary and benefits, interview and offer what a candidate is worth quickly, and pay our fee with a smile (or a grimace is fine too!) On this basis, we’d love to find great candidates that want to work for you!

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada
Maxim Recruitment

Steve is responsible for Maxim Recruitment in the UK and Canada. He is based in the Maxim head office in Leicester, UK and the Toronto office in Canada. He regularly travels to meet employers and job seekers and attend construction industry networking events in the UK, Canada and worldwide. Steve has over 25 years of experience in construction and property recruitment and enjoys working with many repeat clients. He manages dedicated search and headhunting assignments for a range of premium UK, Canadian and international clients.