Job Offers the Right Way
Column by Amy Hertling-Johnson
You did everything right. You posted the ad, reviewed resumes, conducted interviews and checked references. Now you are ready to offer your No. 1 candidate the job. After expending the considerable effort put in to screening and selecting the right candidate for the job, your impulse may be to quickly pick up the phone and make the job offer. However, you, the applicant and your company will benefit if you stop, organize the offer and anticipate your response to any questions or complications.
Know Your Facts
Before contacting the applicant, know all the facts about the position and the offer. Regardless of the position's level in the organization, the applicant will have questions, and you need to know the answers (e.g. How much will I be paid? When do I begin earning vacation time? What about medical insurance? Will I receive a relocation allowance?). Even if you covered the questions during the interviews, make sure you tell the applicant the following:
- Compensation (including any variable compensation)
- Job title
- Proposed start date
- Job duties
- Benefits (cost, start dates, etc.)
- Reporting relationships
- Expected hours of work
In addition to these basic issues, be ready to address any particular concerns the applicant may have raised during the interview (e.g. flex-time schedules, opportunities for pay increases, relocation assistance). For some positions, you'll have to discuss stock options, other benefits and any other special accommodations made for that applicant.
If you know the applicant is evaluating other job opportunities, be ready to remind the applicant why your organization is a great place to work and why the position fits with the applicant's long-term goals. You can also explain why the applicant was selected and how his or her skills fit the position.
Find a Convenient Time
You cannot assume your first offer will be accepted, so set aside enough time to discuss the job with the applicant and answer any questions. Make the offer when the applicant can give you his or her full attention. When you call, ask if the applicant has time to talk to you then or if you should call back at another time. Consider making the job offer on a Friday so the applicant has the weekend to talk to friends and family without the distraction of his or her current job. In some cases, you may want to make an appointment with the applicant to discuss the offer in person.
Put It in Writing
It helps both the applicant and your organization if you put the offer in writing. A written offer gives the applicant something to review and to compare to any other offers he or she may receive. The written offer helps your company by standardizing your offers, ensuring that all necessary information is conveyed and eliminating future disputes about what was offered. A well-written job offer will include the following:
- The facts, listed above
- Any legal documents that will be required (e.g., information necessary to complete an I-9)
- At-will employment statement (if applicable)
- Statement that the written offer is complete; no other promises have been made to applicant
- Any contingencies to the offer (e.g., a non-compete or a pre-employment drug test)
Know Your Limits
Be ready to negotiate, but know the limits on what you can or want to add to the offer. It is easy to make promises that the company might not be willing or able to keep.
If the applicant requests a larger base salary, a different commission schedule or other variable compensation, do not agree without thinking it through. Exceeding your logical limits at the start can cause problems later on. If you exceed the pay range for the position, you have hindered your ability to give this person future increases in the position. Or you may set up a bad situation with others who hold the same position. Further, you go against all the quantitative data you relied on to establish the pay range initially.
Your company's benefit package is established by contract between your company and the benefit provider. You probably do not have much control or flexibility on benefit eligibility issues. If a question related to benefits is important, tell the applicant you need to check before you can agree; do not make exceptions to benefits unless you know you can deliver.
While the applicant may focus on money or healthcare benefits, you may be able to use other benefits to persuade him or her to take the position. Determine what is really of value to the applicant. A flexible work schedule or a week added to his or her annual vacation allowance may be the key. Or an applicant who has expressed interest in continuing his or her education may be persuaded by an education reimbursement plan.
Just remember not to jump the gun when you've found the perfect fit for your open position. Remember to plan the offer in advance. Know what information you need to convey and how you want to convey it. Have answers to questions the applicant might ask, and know your limits on negotiating changes to the original offer. You want to offer the job in a well-organized, thoughtful manner. If you would like additional information on good hiring practices, contact Forté Human Resources.