Tips for Extending an Employment Offer

Jan 16, 2015

You spend a lot of time and resources on the hiring process, so you want to get it right. Bringing a new employee on board takes a team effort — from the recruiting efforts through the interviews and introductions, to the background and reference checks. While you’ve done your homework and you feel confident in your selection, you still have one last task that can make or break the process: extending an offer.

Before the Job Offer

There is the possibility that many mistakes could be made in the recruitment phase of the hiring process. Your human resources person or hiring manager could give away too much information about your company policies while not receiving enough personal information about the candidate. This is a set-up for a failed job offer. If you have selected the person you want to hire, make sure you have the following information before sending a job offer letter:

  • The job candidate’s current or most recent compensation, including base pay, bonuses, commissions and benefits

  • The candidate’s required or desired compensation

  • Reference checks from several of the candidate’s previous managers

  • The candidate’s desired start date

  • Your company’s preferred start date for this position, as well as its salary range, benefits package and any other compensation parameters, including the use of a company car, facilities and bonus structure

  • A sense for what the candidate cares most deeply about

The last point is important because the candidate may not place the highest value on compensation, but instead may care deeply about career opportunities, location, company culture or any number of different facets of your company. Your team should have learned this during the interview phase.

Pre-Close Candidates Before the Employment Offer

Before extending a job offer formally, you should pre-close all the candidates who have passed through the initial screening process and are under serious consideration. It’s wise to pre-close candidates even before you’ve made your final decision. The time to pre-close a candidate is during a post-interview telephone call, or at one of the late interviews, say the second or third round.

Discuss a potential employment offer. Make it clear that you’re not making an offer, only discussing what that offer might look like. Your company still has other candidates to consider. Provide the following and ask for feedback or acceptability of such an offer:

  • Salary range

  • Benefits package

  • Start date

  • Relocation compensation (if necessary)

Find out if the candidate is amenable to the offer. Uncover any obstacles. For example, will the present employer make a counter-offer? Is the start date too soon? You don’t have to address the obstacles immediately; just note them and move on.

Deliver the Employment Offer Professionally

Extending an employment offer is an exciting moment in a job applicant’s life. It’s also a leap of faith for your company. Here are a few do’s and don’ts about how to deliver the offer:

  • Don’t surprise the candidate with the news. While it should be great news, it shouldn’t come as a phone call out of the blue. Instead, schedule phone meetings with your top candidates about what’s next in the process.

  • Do congratulate the candidate and explain what motivated your decision. Be honest about the strengths you saw and the future you predict. Describe the seamless fit with your company culture you foresee, how closely the candidate’s skills match your needs and anything else that figured into your decision.

  • Don’t rush the acceptance. Give the candidate time to consider your job offer. If your deadline is two or three days, though, explain that you have to know soon to start the process on your end (facilities, onboarding plans, etc).

How to Form a Compelling Job Offer Letter

If you’ve done all your homework and feel like you have come to know the candidate, you should already know what motivates him enough to accept the job as presented. When you are extending an offer, you are selling your company to the candidate. You are making a pitch to persuade him to accept the offer.

Build a bond with the candidate. Describe how the candidate can make an immediate impression on the team and how much it means to your company. Mention the career opportunities that lay ahead. Play up your company’s strengths — such as its market share, its growth potential and its enviable culture.

Talk about how the candidate’s interests align with your company’s location, culture and flexibility. Link the candidate’s previous experience and skills directly into the new position, which will push him forward on a desired career course. Offering a job this way makes it irresistible.

Salary Negotiations

It’s a possibility whenever you’re extending an employment offer that the candidate could still turn it down. You must be ready and willing to move on if you can’t come to a mutual agreement that is pleasing to both parties. If it’s just a matter of compensation, however, your company may offer some leeway for negotiation. Salary negotiations must take many factors into account:

  • How closely the candidate matches your needs

  • The industry standard pay for the position

  • Cost of living adjustments based on the location of your offices

  • The possibility of a counter-offer from the present employer

  • The quality of your other candidates and your potential offers to them

The goal of salary negotiation is not to get the best quality person for the cheapest price. You want your new employee to be happy with the job… and motivated. Of course, an employee who only is interested in money may jump at a higher offer after a short time. That’s why it’s important to figure out a candidate’s motivation.

When Extending an Employment Offer

Once the candidate has verbally accepted the job, discuss the next steps and prepare for the possibility of a counter-offer. Reiterate the reasons the candidate is leaving her present job and the promise of your new position. Change is always difficult, but when prepared, a solid job candidate will see the logic of your offer and make the most of it. Then it’s time to send a formal acceptance letter. Your job offer letter should include all of the following:

  • The employee details, such as name and address

  • Your company details

  • The applicant’s new job title and job description

  • The agreed-upon start date

  • The compensation and benefits package

  • Expected hours per week

  • The name of the new immediate supervisor and names and titles of charges, if appropriate

  • Any legal language surrounding the hiring, such as a citizenship requirement, non-disclosure, etc.

A Successful Close

Any time you send a job offer letter, you are taking a leap of faith. But with enough preparation and an effective interviewing and screening process, you will wind up with a motivated, dedicated new employee who thoroughly enjoys the new position and the new challenges. Done right, hiring is a win-win situation.

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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