If you’ve ever tried to recruit a millennial to join your company, you probably know that “fear of missing out” can be a much bigger problem than your competitors. While “FOMO” is hardly an experience unique to the millennial generation, it is a challenge that seems to affect the younger generation more acutely than their more experienced counterparts.
From an employer’s perspective, the recruiting process is nearly complete when an offer gets issued, but from a candidate’s perspective, that event is simply another step in a much more complex personal journey. The candidate still must make their initial decision to accept or decline the offer -usually driven by emotional response- and then rationalize that decision not just to themselves but also to a variety of other influencers including family friends and sometimes even a social media following.
It is during this approval seeking process that FOMO appears. Inundated with information (often delivered with well-meaning intentions), it becomes easy for candidates to imagine alternative outcomes and question their initial decision. As an employer, you must find ways to avoid having the candidate’s “yes” becoming a “no”. You need to not only sell the candidate on your offer but also equip them to sell the decision to their group of influencers.
1. Focus on emotional decision-making
People like to think they are rational decision-makers, but the reality – especially with complex decisions – is that our emotions are more likely than an objective, fact-based analysis to dictate decision outcomes. The latter usually plays a role, but more as justification for a decision already made than as a driving force for the decision.
Emotional decisions are typically simpler than rational ones. They are frequently reached based on a couple of specific, impactful criteria not a comprehensive consideration of the aggregate offer. While an offer that doesn’t meet the minimum criteria for the candidate will easily get a “no”, getting a “yes” doesn’t require winning holistically. Instead meeting the minimum criteria and winning on the few most important criteria may be all you need.
If you can figure out what matters most to the candidate (hint- it’s rarely just about the money), then you can emphasize those aspects of your offer when selling the opportunity and become more likely to start from a “yes”. This doesn’t prevent an influencer from finding some weakness that changes the ultimate decision but starting from an emotional “yes” is far more likely to end acceptance than trying to justify a “yes” rationally.
2. Make FOMO your ally
FOMO is a two-way street. An employer can lose a great candidate because of his/her fear that accepting the offer will lead them to miss out on something better. However, a savvy employer will make the opposite seem true and lead a candidate to be afraid of missing out by NOT accepting the offer.
To do this, the employer much be different. Counter-intuitively, being better is a not as important as being different. If you had to choose between the two, being different is likely to have more success than being better. Let me explain. Offering the highest salary out of five competing offers makes your offer better, however, being the only company to let employees bring dogs to the office makes you different. Based on salary there will be fear of missing out by accepting your offer because a sixth offer might be even better since based on there already being a represented spectrum of salaries. In contrast there would be a fear of missing out on taking a dog to work if that candidate chooses to NOT accept your offer since other companies are not offering than and you are different.
Thus, it is critical to emphasize the unique aspects of the job, not just the benefits of accepting the job. There could always be more money or people who are more interesting, but companies who has a demonstrably unique culture, product/service offering and/or business model can create a fear of missing out by NOT accepting the job.
Market your offer after issuing it
Remember that the person who signs the offer letter is not the only person who needs to support that decision. They may not even be the most critical opinion to win. Spouses frequently have equal or greater influence on the decision to accept an offer, yet companies rarely have access to court those individuals directly.
And while this seems complicated, remember that the company and candidate are aligned in their ultimate goal – a successful hire. Think of the candidate as a spokesperson for the opportunity who will be marketing the offer to a collection of family, friends and other outside influences that are beyond the reaches of the company to directly persuade.
Continue to court the candidate even after the offer is extended. Share articles through email or social media that highlight the positive and unique aspects of joining the company. These become tools the candidate can then share with his/her influencers to help explain and justify the decision. Continue to emphasize those most important features of the offer, but also ensure access to the comprehensive offer so the candidate can address concerns that the influencers may bring up.
Staying engaged is key. The stronger the early relationships with people at the company become, the more likely the candidate is to fear missing out on the opportunity to enjoy those relationships as a coworker not just a candidate.
Scarcity drives interest. We’re all attracted to having something exciting that is not only valuable to us but appeals to others who do not have it. When we are forced to make a decision that could prevent us from making a different future decision (such as when making a job transition), we want to be confident will at least be enjoying a clearly scare, desirable situation for a while, even if we cannot predict the future alternatives.