How to Make a Job Offer (Step-by-Step Guide)
The concept sounds simple enough. A candidate is qualified for a job, – more than qualified, even – so all that is required is to tell the employer about the skills possessed, and make the offer, stating the compensation and benefits that he or she expects to receive. That’s all there is to it, right? Wrong!
A job offer is just like the recruitment process itself. It involves several salient points and many details that must be taken care of. It also demands a lot of attention on the part of the employer or the recruiter (if the employer outsourced the recruiting process).
Making a job offer is also a process. If not done properly, the results may not be what the employer expects (such as getting the desired candidate to accept the offer and the job). You will also be able to save on the resources – time, money and manpower – if you do it systematically, instead of being haphazard about it.
This article will show you 1) a step-by-step guide on making a job offer and 2) best practices when making a job offer.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE ON MAKING A JOB OFFER
As mentioned earlier, making a job offer is a process, which means there are phases and steps to be followed. Whether the recruitment was conducted in-house (by a company’s own human resources department) or outsourced to independent headhunters and recruiting companies, there are certain important steps that must not be overlooked, if you want your job offer to be accepted.
Phase #1: Understanding the candidate and the role to be played
Early on, when you set out to fill a vacant position in the organization, you already have an idea what the position entails, and what type of person would be perfect for it. But it is not enough to “just have an idea”. You have to possess a clear understanding of the position or the job and, after the candidates have expressed their interest to fill the position, you have to know them, not just know of them.
Be familiar with the job profile to be filled.
What position or job are you supposed to fill in the organization? This is the first thing that you should be aware of, so you will know which direction to take (what to look for) when going through the list of candidates.
You can start by going over the job description: the responsibilities, duties and functions, location and working conditions, compensation and benefits, and various other aspects.
Conduct a job interview.
It is said that the job offer is an extension of the job interview process. You can only tell so much about a person from reading documents they have submitted. Job interviews are conducted so that potential employers can get the measure – face-to-face – of the candidates. Here, they will be able to ask questions that are not answered in their CV or resume.
Chances are, at this point, the choice has already been made. Or maybe the shortlist has been whittled to two or three candidates. The job interview will aid the recruiter to make the final decision. In other cases, the choice has been made, but there is a need for that final assurance that they are making the right decision. Hence, a job interview.
Perform reference checks.
Many job applicants overlook the part where they have to provide character references and, even if they do provide references, they do not take it seriously, and just provide the first names that come to mind. Here’s a news flash: recruiters and companies that are hiring do make reference checks.
Recruiters will get in touch with the reference checks and ask the appropriate questions that will back up the information provided by the candidate.
Understand the candidate’s expectations and requirements.
An employer-employee relationship is a two-way one. It’s not just the employer that has expectations and requirements; the candidate, too, which is why you have to know and understand what they are.
During the job interview, you would have already discussed salient points about the job to be filled, such as the salaries and benefits and the duties and responsibilities. You have to know what the candidate thinks about these, so you could negotiate terms better later, if it comes to that.
It is a good idea to, early on, lay all your cards on the table. This is so that, in the event that the candidate accepts the job offer and becomes a part of the organization, both parties are aware of what is expected of them in the relationship.
Negotiate terms and start date.
It is the negotiation phase that takes the most time in this whole process. It may not be so much for entry-level positions, but for highly technical or managerial positions, the negotiation could go on for days and even weeks. You should also have an idea how much time and resources you are willing to spend on the negotiations. Otherwise, you may end up spending weeks when you can do it in less than a week.
Before you make the offer, you have to know which points you are willing to negotiate with the candidate, and which ones you cannot budge on. This will save you both a lot of time during the actual negotiation process.Once you present it to the candidate, and he refuses to budge, much less consider budging on that matter, then it is safe to say that he is turning down the job, so you can step back before making a formal offer.
Hiring managers approach negotiations differently. Some are tough about it, others are more flexible. Leading recruiters, however, suggest that you should not be too tough. Be tough, yes, but up to a point. You might be turning the candidate away because of how strict you are.
Make sure you avoid the following hiring mistakes.
Phase #2: Making the offer
Run the approval process for making the final hiring decision.
Depending on the organizational structure or setup, there is an approval process when it comes to finalizing hiring decisions. It is not just a matter of the head of the Human Resources or the CEO of the company picking a candidate. There may be lengthy discussions, and other details that must be ironed out before the final hiring decision is made.
Make the first contact.
The initial contact is often done over the phone, with the recruiter calling the candidate and congratulating him for meeting all the qualifications of the job to be filled. The offer will then be made verbally.
This is the preferred option because the hiring manager can immediately detect whether the candidate is enthusiastic about the news or he is hesitant, which means one of two things: he has another offer or option on the table, or he has changed his mind about wanting to work in your company.
Making the initial offer this way will also save the hiring manager or recruiter from writing a formal job offer letter and going through the motions of preparing all the required documentation, only for the candidate to turn it down in the end.
Phase #3: Making it official
Make the job offer official by putting it in writing.
Draft the written job offer.
There is nothing wrong with making an informal letter to make your job offer, but it certainly does not hurt to take a more formal approach, either. This is to make it more professional, considering that you are entering into a professional relationship with the candidate.
The contents of the job offer letter include the following:
- The company culture and work environment, and how they align with the goals of the candidate
- Compensation and benefits that come with the job
- Other important personnel policies, which may be included in the form of a copy of an employee manual or handbook, if available
- Terms and conditions on which the job is being offered, including any conditions attached to it
- Starting date and time of work of the candidate
- The location (division or department) that the candidate should report to on his first day of work, and thereafter
- The name of the candidate’s immediate supervisor/s and trainor/s (if any)
- What the candidate should expect on his first day at work, so he would come better prepared
These are no longer new information for the candidate, but putting them down in writing will serve as a reminder, which will aid them in making that decision whether to accept or not.
On the letter, you must explicitly indicate a deadline for the candidate to communicate whether he accepts the job or not. The length of time that will be given will depend on the decision of the hiring manager, or what is deemed to be reasonable for both parties.
Send the job offer letter to the candidate.
There are only two possibilities after you have sent the letter to the candidate. It is either he signs it, signifying acceptance of the offer, and return it to you, or he could return it to you unsigned, which means he is rejecting it. If the deadline lapses without the candidate responding to the offer, then it also means that he is turning it down.
One thing you should remember is that the job offer letter is already final. This means that everything written on it have already been agreed upon between the company and the candidate.
If the candidate decides to reopen the negotiations and make a counter offer after he has received the letter, this calls his integrity into question. And this will also warn you early on that he is not an employee you would want in your company.
This is how you write a job offer letter in less than 5 minutes.
BEST PRACTICES WHEN MAKING A JOB OFFER
Make the offer attractive, and make it attractive from the outset.
You can do this by checking out the competition, and what they offer to their candidates. If the company can afford it, make the salaries and wages higher. Throw in additional benefits. A signing bonus is often offered by large companies. Of course, if you are a small enterprise, this may not be fiscally feasible, but you can look for other options. Maybe the promise of an increase in salary after one or two years?
When you make the offer, you have to highlight the good points that will appeal to the candidate from the beginning. Do not hold out when you first make the offer. It is possible that the candidate is considering multiple companies at once, and he is likely to snap up the most attractive offer.
Lay your best cards on the table the first time, and see if the others can top it. This will give you an opportunity to up your offer later on, if needed.
Recruitment, especially recruitment of top talents, is very competitive. If you are going to make a job offer, do it immediately. Right away. Putting it off for tomorrow will run the risk of some other company making an offer to the candidate and, when you finally make your offer, the candidate has already made his choice, and it’s not you.
Be courteous and respectful.
You may be the one offering a job, and you may be the employer or the boss once the candidate accepts it and joins the organization. But that does not give you the right to take a high-handed stance. There is also the possibility that the candidate may reject the offer because he is turned off by how less than polite you are.
Aside from using polite language in your communications – both verbal and written – with the candidate, the act of giving the candidate room to negotiate certain terms and conditions is also one way of showing that you respect them.
Do not just focus on the dollar signs.
While it is true that candidates often look first at the part of the offer with the dollar signs on it, more of them are more concerned with other benefits, such as long-term opportunities and career advancement in the company once they accept the job. Highlight these in your job offer letter.
Depending on the information you gathered about the candidate, you will be able to tell what is important to them. For example, a family man, with three kids, is more likely to be attracted to a job that comes with healthcare benefits. A single mother, on the other hand, may be more attracted when the job offers flexible working hours, even if it pays less than another company offering a higher salary, but with fixed working hours.
This is why most recruiters talk first about the benefits of the job, and tackle the compensation or the base salary later.
Be prepared for counter offers.
This is especially true if we are filling an executive or managerial position, or one that is currently in-demand that the candidate is the one being sought after by companies, not the other way around. You have to be prepared for the possibility that the candidate will make a counter offer, like adding a few more zeroes on the compensation area, or adding some perks or benefits, like a company car or being granted housing when he or she has to relocate.
Anticipating this will put the company in a better position to negotiate. Also, the company would have to decide whether giving in to the demands of the candidate will be worth it, or if they should consider another candidate for the job.
Do not drag the negotiation period too long.
Expect candidates for senior positions to have more demands than candidates for entry-level or junior positions. They tend to expect more and want more, so they will definitely ask for more. We mentioned that this could take weeks, especially for senior positions. It is up to your judgment whether you will let it drag on for weeks on end, or if you want to specify a certain period of time for the negotiation to be completed.
Just keep in mind that, the longer you take in filling up the position, the more time you are wasting. You could have had the candidate (or another candidate) working and contributing to the organization, instead of waiting for the current candidate you are negotiating with make up his minds about what he or she wants or expects from the company.
Time to hire is one of the key recruiting metrics.
Do not sugarcoat things when making your offer. This is tantamount to lying. It will also come back to you in the end since you are entering into a contract and, if you fail to deliver what you promised in the beginning, you will be liable for breach of contract.
Provide facts and do not snatch random ideas out of thin air just so your job offer will come across as more attractive or appealing to the candidate.Besides, candidates are smarter now. They know that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. This will also put your company in a bad light, as your recruitment process will be put into question.
Stay connected with your candidates throughout the process.
You want to be available anytime, anywhere, just in case your candidate has questions, or in the event that you have to follow up on your offer. Stay in touch with them, and they will feel that you truly want them to join your team.
In Palo Alto (CA), we meet Partner at Venrock, Brian Ascher. Brian talks about how he became a …
In San Francisco, we talked with entrepreneur Marco Zappacosta, the co-founder & CEO of …
There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that all businesses around the world are trying to …