How to Convince Your Top Candidate to Say ‘Yes’ (Without Offering More Money)

In an increasingly tight labor market, employers are scrambling to attract and recruit the best talent before the competition snatches them up. Try these tips to convince your cream-of-the-crop candidates to say yes when you aren’t able to entice them with greater compensation.


State Your Mission and Vision — and Explain How They’d Make a Difference 

As an increasing number of millennials and younger generations enter the workplace, money isn’t the sole motivation to accept a job.

“Millennials want to do work that matters, so if you can show them how your company makes a difference in the world, you have a higher likelihood of being competitive in the market,” says William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group and author of the upcoming book Culture Wins.

April Klimkiewicz, career counselor and owner of bliss evolution, echoes the fact that younger generations care deeply about making a positive impact in the world.

“Being able to discuss this in a way that makes sense not only in the job description, but also throughout the interview process will help your top choice see that creating worthwhile outcomes are part of what your organization does in the community or for the world,” she says. “This is an important selling point for a generation that came into the working world in a down economy and had to discover work motivation outside of salary.”

Consider the Candidate’s Stage of Life

The key is to understand what’s important to your candidate and their motivation for making a career move, explains Tiffany Gibson, creator of “Get the Job” app and blogger/lead talent acquisition specialist.

“Once you understand a candidate’s motivation, you will know if appealing to intrinsic or extrinsic motivators will produce a signed offer,” Gibson says.

Pick Your Perks Wisely

Perks can play an important role in whether a candidate accepts a job or not — but free cold brew on tap can only go so far.

“I work with technology companies in the Bay area, so having a chef onsite, ping pong tables and all the snacks you can imagine is normal. It’s the extra things like paid maternity and paternity leave, flexible work hours for a good work-life balance, child care, etc. [that matter more],” says Brianna Rooney, founder of, a recruiter of software engineers.

HR/workplace analyst Laura Handrick from echoes this sentiment, adding that the top perks candidates are looking for are flex-time and work-from-home options.

“Employees want to be trusted to get the work done, and measured on performance, not time in the office,” she says. “This isn't just a generational thing. Millennials want flex-time because they are socially oriented and work isn't always their top priority. They may want to do their work at night so their days are free to support a cause. Even boomers, who are generational workaholics, want flex time so they can care for family members or do volunteer work.”

Give Them Autonomy to Work on Passion Projects

Empowering new hires to take the lead on new and exciting projects can be a differentiator in the war for talent.

“Allowing a candidate to pursue their professional interests — even if its slightly outside the scope of their work — is a great way to not only entice a new hire, but also to keep an employee happy [in the] long term,” says Kelly Finn, Principal Consultant at WinterWyman.

Show Them a Future At Your Company

While compensation is a compelling factor in getting a candidate to choose you, a lot of job seekers are looking for career development, so make sure to highlight opportunities for growth and advancement.

“Other companies can offer more money, but can they offer true room for growth? By laying out a roadmap for advancement, you can show your employee that although another company can offer them more now, they have more potential to grow [with you],” says Nate Masterson, HR director at Maple Holistics. “Oftentimes it's not about the immediate payday to an employee so much as it is about their long-term outlook.”

Deanna Hartley is a prolific writer and editor, having spent the past decade publishing hundreds of print and digital bylines on topics including job search advice, career development, recruitment, HR and human capital management that speak to both job seekers as well as employers/recruiters. Deanna has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, is a former senior editor at award-winning publisher Human Capital Media in Chicago, and currently works as a senior copywriter at CareerBuilder. Her articles providing career advice have appeared in a variety of publications, including Gannett’s network of newspapers, Business Insider and Workforce Magazine. A proud female millennial immigrant, Deanna understands the importance and privilege of securing meaningful employment in the U.S. — and hopes, through her work, she can help others do the same.

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