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Hire an outstanding marketing executive at any time of the year.

As the year draws to a close, business leaders and hiring managers need to be acutely aware of how ‘bonus season’ can affect a marketing executive search and strategize accordingly to get top talent.

If you’re recruiting a top candidate toward the end of the year, odds are high that they’ll have an end-of-year bonus coming up soon. Most are unwilling walk away from the money and the sense of accomplishment that it represents.

What can you do?

This situation is common during Q4 and the early part of Q1. As the bonus payout gets closer and closer, it gets harder and harder to pull executive candidates away from their current place of employment.

And understandably so. Performance bonuses often account for 15-30% of annual compensation, and some senior executives can go well beyond that. Convincing someone to leave behind a hard-earned paycheck when it’s just a few weeks or months away is a tough sell. Even a relatively modest bonus can represent a lot of work and dedication that most candidates are reluctant to walk away from.

On the other hand, losing an ideal candidate at this stage of the marketing executive recruitment process is extremely painful, especially if the alternatives are starting over or choosing someone less-qualified. In these instances, it’s worth a little extra effort to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution that ultimately leads to a great hire.

Battling the Bonuses: What You Can Do

Various bonus plans are extremely common among marketing executives, usually hinging on hitting certain performance goals by the end of the calendar year.

A great marketing executive is worth their weight in gold in terms of long-term ROI for your business. If the right candidate comes along, you shouldn’t let something get in the way of your business’s growth. As marketing executive recruiters, here are some of the successful solutions we’ve helped negotiate between our clients and great candidates.

Push Back the Start Date

One of the simplest ways to manage this problem is simply to wait it out. Most bonuses are calculated at the end of the year, and may not get paid until February or March. If you can afford to wait, then coordinate with your candidate to postpone their first day on the job until after they’ve collected their check. Once the bonus has been received, the candidate can resign from their current role and transition to your organization.

Of course, this strategy doesn’t come without its costs. Leaving a critical leadership position on your marketing team vacant has opportunity cost which you need to consider. Don’t forget that even after they receive their bonus, your candidate will still need two weeks to give proper notice and transition out of their position. If you were hoping to hire sooner, especially in November or earlier, that’s a painful wait. And the longer the delay, the greater the chance of the candidate finding yet another job opportunity or getting a counteroffer.

Craft a Sign-On Package to Offset the Lost Bonus

Your other option is to offer the candidate some extra incentive to join your business even if it means losing their bonus.

That compensation can come in many forms.

A sign-on bonus that’s competitive with the one they were expecting is an obvious choice that can be provided in an immediate lump sum or broken up in installments contingent on staying with your organization for certain amounts of time. That amount can come as cash or stock, or some combination of each.

Though it comes with some upfront costs, this method may ultimately be cheaper to your business in the long run. The value of having an A-player directing your marketing team earlier and optimizing your strategy will often quickly outweigh the costs.

Choosing the Best Option for You

There’s no one size fits all way to bring in a top marketing executive candidate who is reluctant to leave because they’re waiting on a bonus. The best strategy for you will be highly dependent on the candidate and their situation, so you should always work closely with your marketing executive search partner and stay in close communication with the candidate to find out what they value. You’ll need to compare the costs and benefits of each option and choose which makes the most sense.

One thing your business should always do when trying to attract top marketing executive talent away from another organization is take every possible measure to ensure that they’re extremely excited about the position and your company. Leave no doubt in their mind that the place they are going is a top place to work.