Quick Guide to Extending Job Offers Top Talent Can’t Refuse

January 29, 2014

Once you’ve sourced, interviewed, and selected your top candidate, the hardest part of the hiring process is over, right? Not exactly. In fact, how you prepare for and extend a job offer to your top candidate may make or break your entire search.

Like most steps in the hiring process, extending job offers to top talent is part art and part science. It requires a deep understanding of what candidates care about most, and a tactful delivery strategy that frames the opportunity in the most compelling way possible.
To accomplish that, you must implement a standard protocol that creates consistency and ensures that you’re able to consistently close the deal with your top candidates by offering clear, compelling offers. Unfortunately, too few businesses actually take that step.
So, what exactly should that offer protocol include?
This post will walk you through a detailed process for extending job offers to improve your acceptance rate — starting with a checklist of what you need to cover before creating an offer, and ending with four candidate wild cards that you need to be prepared for.

Checklist: What to Do Before You Extend an Offer

While your interview process should be used to vet candidates and acquire clarity around the triggers that are most likely to lead to their acceptance of your offer, it’s still a good idea to go through a checklist of the key factors that could influence your offer.
Download the "Before You Extend an Offer" checklist.
For instance, are you aware of your company’s policies for salary negotiation, and are you capable of conveying the core components of your benefits package? Have you thought about the candidate’s potential start date, or when you’ll ask the candidate to make a decision on your offer by?
Then, of course, there are reference checks. As excited as you might be about a candidate, it’s critical not to skip this step — regardless of how impressive someone has been in interviews.
As discussed in this post, reference interviews are a fantastic opportunity to speak directly with a potential hire’s former manager, obtain additional detail on that candidate’s work history, professional relationships, and performance, and validate your belief that a candidate truly is the right person for the role.

What to Include in Every Offer You Make

The language, compensation information, and job-specific benefits that you include in your offers may vary depending on the role you’re hiring for, but there are a handful of components that every offer should include.
Specifically, your offer letters should include:

  • Name of employee
  • Name of company
  • Title of position
  • Start date
  • Salary/hourly rate
  • Exempt or non-exempt status
  • Bonus/other incentives
  • Benefits
  • Who the position will report to
  • Legalities (at-will employment, etc.)
  • Original job description (consider adding as separate attachment)

You might also consider including a deadline for acceptance of the offer, which is typically 48 hours to one week after it is delivered. Establishing a deadline is not purely meant to give the candidate a sense of urgency on their acceptance; it allows the opportunity to offer the role to another candidate if your first choice rejects your offer. If you decide to put a deadline on the candidate’s acceptance, it is important to share your reason for having one.

Tips for Delivering a Persuasive Job Offer

Do You Really Know Everything You Need to Know About Your Top Candidate?

morpho redux Hire Smarter with this Quick Guide to Behavioral Interviewing

Interviews are complete, background and reference checks have been conducted, and you’ve met with your interview team to determine the components that need to go into an offer letter. Time to email that letter on to your candidate and give them a quick call, right?
Not so fast.
As OpenView Director of Talent Diana Martz writes in this post, the offer delivery step is just as important as the others in this process because it’s your chance to convey your excitement and ensure that nothing in the letter catches the candidate by surprise. Your goal should be to convey enthusiasm for the candidate joining the team and ensuring they understand what is on offer.
To do that, Katy Smigowski recommends taking three key steps when you deliver an offer over the phone:

  1. Tell candidates why you chose them: Great candidates are typically interviewing companies as much as companies are interviewing them. Explain why you chose this person for the role, and convey why you think they will be a great addition to your team.
  2. Be open and honest: To avoid surprises, make sure to clearly convey the details of the compensation package being offered, and the date you would like the candidate to start. Ask the candidate their thoughts on the offer, and ask them to get back to you by a certain date (usually between 48 hours to one week from offer) with their formal acceptance, if they do not offer up a date first.
  3. Try to be as patient as possible: If you expect a candidate to accept your offer on the spot, you will probably be disappointed. Most candidates will want to take time to consider the details of an offer, even if they know they will ultimately accept. You need to grant them that time. That said, Smigowski explains that it is perfectly fine to discuss an acceptance deadline and communicate the circumstances under which the offer might expire. 

Once you’ve delivered a verbal offer to your candidate, Martz says it’s important to send that person a copy of the offer via email as soon as possible. When sending your offer, you should also consider attaching or including any insurance or time-off benefits information that you discussed on the phone.

5 Wild Cards You Need to Prepare For

Joker's Wild
Unfortunately, even the best-managed recruitment process can sometimes be undone by circumstances that you didn’t see coming that a candidate brings up or requests once he or she receives an offer. To avoid that, it’s important to prepare for these four common potential hiring roadblocks:

  1. Working remotely: There are pros and cons to hiring someone to work remotely, and the ability to work remote may depend on the role. Your company should develop a protocol around telecommuting, and make sure that candidates who request to work remotely understand your policy.
  2. Flexible schedules: The days of the 9-to-5 work schedule are numbered. If a great candidate reveals that he or she will need to leave early one or two days per week for personal reasons, explore the possibility of how a flexible schedule may be feasible within your company, and for that particular role.
  3. Relocation: For those candidates who are relocating from outside the area for a senior management position at your organization, you may also want to consider implementing a protocol allowing relocation after their first six to 12 months on the job. Offering relocation support can often set you apart from other companies. However, it is also common to require a relocation repayment agreement should a candidate join and leave within a certain period of time (e.g., one year).
  4. Visas: If a potential candidate is not legally entitled to work in the U.S., your company will have to decide whether or not to consider either transferring a visa for a candidate who already has one, or sponsoring a visa for a candidate who would require one. Ask the appropriate questions related to work eligibility early in your interview process to ensure this is not a last minute decision that will cost your company additional time and money that you had not budgeted for the role.

Of course, the final — and sometimes most difficult — wild card to manage is an offer rejection.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always something you can control. There may be any number of reasons a candidate decides not to join your team — accepting a counteroffer from their current employer, the inability to work from home, a higher offer from another company, etc. — and you always need to be prepared for those possibilities, regardless of how much you think a candidate is already “sold” on your company’s value proposition.
The bottom line, Martz says, is that you should never officially end your search until you have a signed offer letter in hand and the candidate has given notice to their current employer. This way, if your top candidate rejects your offer, and you have built a healthy pipeline of candidates, you won’t have to start your recruiting process over from the beginning.
Photo by COD Newsroom

Director of Talent

<strong>Carlie Smith</strong> was the Senior Talent Manager, Sales & Marketing at OpenView. She worked directly with hiring managers and key stakeholders within OpenView and its portfolio to lead vital searches and provided process guidance on recruitment strategy, including talent identification, strategic sourcing, relationship building, and competitive intelligence. Currently, Carlie is the Director of <a href="https://www.circle.com/en">Circle</a>.