What if companies shopped for candidates

Offer shopping has been a menace for the recruitment industry for quite some time now and has become common practice for candidates looking to better their salary or job profile. By definition, offer shoppers are candidates who already have job offers in hand that they have accepted. Despite that, they decide to interview at other places to find better prospects. While offer shopping might appear justified from a candidate’s perspective, it’s considered an unethical practice for several reasons.

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Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

When a candidate goes offer shopping, it sets a negative precedence and results in bad faith between that candidate and the relatively small, close-knit recruitment community. Candidates who lack integrity in this area are often blacklisted by recruiters and hiring managers because their selfish motivations show a total disregard for the recruiter who has worked hard to find the candidate, and the company, who in good faith, made an offer. 

But what if the tables were turned? What if companies began shopping for candidates? Let’s look at this nightmarish scenario and understand the implications of companies doing what candidates have been doing for years.

What if… Companies Engaged in Candidate Shopping?

As a result of better sense prevailing, companies generally never shop for candidates. Once a candidate is hired, they’re hired for good unless something dramatic happens. But what if we lived in a world where companies deemed candidate shopping normal? Here’s how it would play out:

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

A company runs a massive recruitment drive to hire for an important role and finalises five candidates. Offers are rolled out and are accepted. Then comes the date of joining, and lo and behold, the company refuses to honour their offer letters and doesn’t let the candidates on to their premises. Renegotiations begin, and the five candidates are told that only two candidates who agree to the lowest salaries will be offered the job. This, after these candidates have served out their notice periods at their previous jobs. An auction of sorts takes place, and only when a considerable amount has reduced the salary does the company hire two candidates.

Sounds like a disaster, doesn’t it? The absolute disregard for the candidates, the apathy for their struggles, and the total abuse of power is a nightmare. And this is just one fictional scenario of what could happen if companies shopped for candidates. There are many possibilities worse than this. Companies could modify the offer letter before the date of joining and force candidates to agree to a reduced salary package. They could even hire a bunch of employees, get them to work for a week and then choose the best amongst them, keeping both performance and cost to company in consideration.

At the receiving end of this hellish experience, candidates would have quit their previous jobs only to receive crushing disappointment at the start of their new one. Salary expectations would become a thing of the past, and companies would enjoy absolute dictatorship over pay parity. On a personal level, being forced to accept a job for a lower salary package than originally promised is a massive blow to candidates and their confidence levels. In the dystopian, ruthless world of candidate shopping, candidates would have to struggle to make themselves be heard.

For recruiters, candidate shopping would be a blessing since they’ll enjoy complete control over the process. They’ll also help save their company a lot of money by negotiating hard on the salary and forcing candidates to accept an offer with a lower package than expected.

Fortunately, candidate shopping is legally not viable at the moment since no candidate would accept a job offer with a clause that allows for post joining salary negotiations. Recruiters will have to disclose their intentions in the offer letter, without which they legally can’t do anything. As you can imagine, candidate shopping is impractical and an extreme scenario that would do a company more harm than good.

Back to Reality

Now that you’re aware of just how messed up things can get when companies adopt the same callous attitude for recruitment as offer shoppers do, you might better understand a recruiters’ plight. While the damage caused by candidate shopping would be devastating, it’s not a real thing. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about offer shopping. 

Thankfully, recruiters have more sense than that and genuinely care about hiring the right people for the proper compensation, while candidate shopping remains a figment of our imagination for the time being.

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