Making the right job offer

You're satisfied that you've picked the right candidate, and now it's time to make it official with a job offer. Before you reach out, however, there are some things you'll want to have checked off your list so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

When you've found the perfect candidate it's also important to act quickly. The last thing you want is for them to accept an offer elsewhere, giving you no choice but to settle with your next-best candidate, or to restart the interview process from scratch. Therefore, preparation is critical.

Here are the things you need to know when making a job offer.

Agree on salary and other benefits

Don't be discouraged if the candidate rejects your first salary offer. That's just part and parcel of the negotiation process – so try to aim for a middle-ground figure that both parties can agree on. Your minimum-maximum salary band should reflect the range of experience and skillsets the candidate can bring to the role, so make sure this is factored into the conversation.

While salary is an important factor, candidates will want to look at the whole package before deciding whether to accept your job offer. Besides financial benefits, it's important that you also remind the candidate of the advantages of choosing to work for your organisation over others. These might include a great company culture, additional holidays/loyalty leave, career advancement, high autonomy and flexible work arrangements.

If you have a fantastic candidate you don't want to lose, you may need to be prepared to offer a higher salary than originally planned. Be flexible, but also be open and transparent about how far you are willing to go.

Put the job offer in writing

An initial job offer is often made verbally, in which case it's important to back it up in writing as soon as possible. This needs to be in the form of a letter of engagement which describes the terms and conditions of their employment with your business. This includes basic details such as:

  • Start date
  • Position and job title
  • Hours of work
  • Pay and other entitlements
  • Termination of employment/Notice periods

Make sure the written offer comes with an attached position description that lists the key duties of the role. It's also important to include the terms of their probation period, if one is included.

Legal advice isn't required when you're hiring new staff, but it may be beneficial if the job has specific requirements in relation to confidentiality or non-competition. If there's any doubt, have a legal professional look over the paperwork to check that you've covered all the important issues.

Whatever you do, don't delay! The most important thing is to come through with an offer as soon as you've made your choice as jobseekers tend to lose interest in a slow and prolonged recruitment process.

Be ready for a counteroffer

During your final negotiations with your candidate of choice, you may learn that they have received a counteroffer from their current employer. This isn't unusual in a marketplace that has a lot of competition for top talent. If they're a high-calibre candidate, their current employer probably won't be keen to let them go.

First, the fact that they're telling you about the counteroffer means they haven't accepted it yet, so it's important to let the candidate explain the circumstances. Are they still not completely convinced that this is the right career move for them? What did their current employer offer – a pay rise, a promotion? Or was it some other type of benefit that you overlooked, but could still offer?

Whatever the reason, find out what you can do to put them at ease about making the move to your organisation. Whatever you do, don't get into a bidding war with the other company. Even if you win, it means you'll probably find it a challenge to retain the employee.

Set a timeframe for a decision

Taking a new job is a huge decision. Even if you are in a rush to fill the role, you'll want to give the candidate 24 to 48 hours to consider your job offer, or even a little longer if it's a senior or executive role. However, it's perfectly reasonable to expect an answer within a few days.

Waiting longer than this for a decision can be risky – remember that they may be considering offers from different employers, and you don't want to be the one who missed their golden opportunity. Also know when to move on – if a candidate is clearly hesitating to accept your offer, it may be a hint they don’t really want to work for your company after all.

Follow these steps, and you'll save both time and effort, and increase the chance of welcoming a fantastic new employee to your organisation.

See more tips on how to speed up the hiring process.

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