In recruiting, the job offer is the pivotal point of the hiring process because it includes all the details about compensation and the exact duties of the job that a new hire is getting. A job offer is more than just an offer of compensation to a prospective employee, it is the culmination of weeks of work for the recruiter and the final result of resume screening and interviews. Often, job offers are also the start of a period of negotiation between the employer and the candidate, which the recruiter has to manage.
Needless to say, it’s important to get it right. Every recruiter has experienced a candidate turning down an offer at the last minute, and it’s painful. Fortunately, if you mange the entire recruitment process correctly and get the right information, you can develop a certain level of control and certainty about the final step.
Anatomy of a Job Offer
Most people outside of the recruiting industry think a job offer is just a salary and maybe some benefits, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Offers are a complete picture of what the candidate can expect to receive as an employee of the company. Although it’s important to cover and perhaps promote the good parts of the basics (salary, benefits, other financial compensation and benefits), it’s just as important to reiterate and frame the conversation in the context of the candidate’s initial expectations and motivations.
If you don’t have a highly detailed understanding of your candidate’s career aspirations, personal job needs, and reasons for moving by the last stage of the recruiting process, you’re much too late. You need to ask all of those questions upfront and then carry those themes throughout the interview process. By the time they get a job offer, you should be able to tell the candidate how and why the offer hits on all of their requirements and alleviates their pain points.
What can and can’t be negotiated on a job offer?
When it comes time to enter negotiations between a candidate and an employer about job offers, it can be a good thing to know what exactly is on the table for negotiation. There are generally things that the employer is willing to work with a new hire on and things that are set in stone. Usually, employers are flexible about things like the start date for the new employee, bonuses like signing bonuses or stock options, as well as things like relocation or tuition reimbursement. Some employers are even flexible on the starting salary and may give a recruiter more of a ballpark than a hard number. However, many employers are pretty set about things like benefits packages, the job title or rank, vacation and sick time and other types of compensation like sales commissions or performance bonuses.
A very important detail in negotiating with candidates is the understanding that at each point in the conversation, either party must be willing to walk away from the job. If the candidate counters with $10,000 above the salary, they have to understand that by asking this they are saying “No” to the job without that extra $10,000. Most experienced business people and negotiators understand this principle, but it’s important for both sides to realize during the process to only ask for changes that they really want and/or require.
What can a recruiter do before the offer is made?
Negotiations of offers can be a delicate time for everyone involved, but there are some things a recruiter can do beforehand to make the process run more smoothly. As part of the initial research for the position, the recruiter needs to nail down details about everything that will be included in the job offer so he or she can give candidates a complete picture of the job. Recruiters should talk with candidates in detail about what the job offer might entail and make sure that the candidate is aware of details like salary and benefits packages. Beyond the financial details, it can be very helpful to involve hiring managers in the process early. Have a deep understanding of what the day to day tasks are and about the work environment. These points can be discussed during the negotiation phase.
Ten Quick Tips for Recruiters Making Offers
- Understand your candidate’s root motivations
- Reiterate and discuss the job in the context of the candidate’s long term professional development
- Don’t forget how important basic logistics are. Location, job title, and base salary are big factors to every single candidate.
- Know the hiring managers and the work environment
- Discuss the future – what could the position become in five years?
- Understand your company’s (or your client’s) business prospects – what are the big trends that would benefit the candidate?
- Don’t make the candidate work. Have your financial figures, bonus estimates, and detailed explanation of all benefits ready to give them.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss why the position is open in the first place. It often comes up late in the game.
- Don’t make job offers that violate the trust you built with the candidate in the recruiting process. If the hiring manager is changing the rules, the job description, or salary – don’t be afraid to take them to task. If you have to make the offer with a radical change, empathize with the candidate and explain exactly what happened.
- Lock down dates. If the candidate needs to think about it, ask for a call at a precise time the following day. Throughout the process, the candidate should be motivated, honest, and timely. If one of those three are missing, you know there is a problem.
Ideally, if you’re open, honest, and communicate well with the candidate throughout the sourcing and interviewing process, the job offer should really be a foregone conclusion by the time you make it. If you don’t know what your candidate is going to say when you present an offer, there is a good chance you don’t know enough about your candidate and the job for which you are recruiting.