How to Compete with Another Company’s Bigger Sign-on Bonus

We’ve all been there—you’re talking with a potential recruit, getting pretty far along the process, but they give you the bad news; they’ve gotten a “better offer.”

Typically what they mean is that they’ve been offered more money. And on a purely monetary level, most of us as leaders don’t necessarily have the influence of capital to compete with some of the highest sign-on bonuses in this industry. 

That’s if you only engage with a recruit on a money level. But anyone who knows my principles knows that a leader can engage recruits on a level that goes far beyond money, if they’re willing to put in the work.

One tip I like to advise as a leader is to involve family wherever you can— both yours and the potential recruits’.

Family is one of our biggest drivers as people, and getting them involved in the recruiting process can be a major boon for crossing the finish line and displaying your true value as a leader.

For instance, when I set up dinner meetings with recruits, I often suggest that we bring our spouses along. I think that this achieves a few things:

  1. Being with loved ones allows us to access a more authentic part of ourselves. These are the people who make us the most comfortable and the most ready to share our reality with others. You hear more about a person when they’re with their favorite people.
  2. Our spouses are often the people who drive our decision-making. If a recruit is deciding later between a few offers, they’re probably going to talk it through with their family. It’s hugely beneficial to have made a lasting impression on their spouse.

Of course, I’m also very lucky. I sometimes joke that my wife, Leah, is a better closer than I am. Leah is such a staunch supporter and advocate of my work that, by the end of the night, that recruit’s spouse has almost always become a fast friend, and Leah has managed to communicate to them the care and sincerity that I would bring as a leader. She helps them get why I’m offering the better deal, regardless of money. 

But not every spouse can be the closer that Leah is! On top of that, not every leader or recruit necessarily has a spouse right now. However, everyone has loved ones, whether it’s aging parents or troubled teenagers. And when a Recruiting Leader involves their own loved ones, they’re showing a display of trust and sincerity that can truly resonate with recruits. 

Involving your family– in whatever way they’re comfortable with– can establish a few things to a potential recruit:

  1. You, as a leader, take family seriously. This shows them that you’ll take their family seriously. 
  2. You, as a leader, want to connect on a level that goes beyond the workplace. 

This principle can apply in a lot of ways to a lot of people. For instance, ask about the communities this recruit cares about, and you’ll be able to help them better serve those communities. These emotional bonds hold much more sway over us than money ever could, and they can often help overcome the flashing dollar signs of another company’s sign-on bonus. 

And even if they don’t sign on at that moment, you’ll have built a relationship that they and their family will remember. Those relationships are invaluable, and can help make a meaningful connection in your life and the life of your recruit. 

An Attractive Leader will always do their best to engage with the things— and the people— that matter most to a potential recruit. Ask about their family, their community, their best friends, and you’ll be engaging them on a level that goes far beyond numbers ever could.

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