How to Make a Job Offer
Once you’ve decided which applicant to hire, you may think the hard part is over and it’s time to kick back and relax – but not so fast. You still need to make the offer official.
If this step in the process isn’t handled correctly, you can miss out on your first choice candidate or, worse, start the relationship off on a sour note.
Here’s how to handle this final step in the hiring process.
- Act fast
- If your first choice candidate was an active applicant – meaning he or she sought out the job and wasn’t recruited by someone at your company – you need to move fast. He or she may have applied for several different positions at different companies and may already have other offers on the table. While passive candidates – people your company reached out to about the job – aren’t likely to have other offers, they may be reconsidering leaving their current jobs, so again, speed is critical.
Look for any ways you can possibly streamline the process of making offers official. For example, limit the number of decision makers or remove any waiting periods that your company requires during the hiring process.
- Put the offer together
- Once you have the official go-ahead to make the offer, it’s time to put all the pieces together. To make a job offer, you need to know the starting date, salary, benefits or other perks. Make sure the applicant’s eligibility for certain perks or benefits is confirmed before extending the offer.
While you likely had a salary range in mind earlier, now is the time to nail down an exact number. After interviewing all applicants, you should have an idea of where your new hire’s skills, education and experience fall on the spectrum and can choose an appropriate salary.
- Make the call
- When making the initial offer, call the candidate. Official offers should be put in writing, too, in a follow-up letter, but contacting the candidate by phone first is preferred. After all, letters can get lost in the mail and it’s easier to read verbal reactions over written ones when trying to figure out the interest level.
During the call, make sure you sell the job and your company to the candidate. Don’t just explain the salary and benefits; put them in the context of what makes your company special and how the job will help advance the candidate in his or her career. Make sure your tone conveys your enthusiasm for bringing the applicant onboard and explain why he or she beat out the other candidates.
- Set a date
- At the end of the call, give the candidate a deadline for accepting or declining the offer. The exact timeline should vary based on the candidate and the position. Generally speaking, the higher the position, the more time a candidate will need to consider the offer. Active jobseekers should only need a few days to make a decision. Passive candidates may need more time, but don’t give them too much time: The more time you give them, the more time their current company has to make an attractive counteroffer.
If a candidate doesn’t get back to you by the deadline, reach out again to find out what the delay is and if there’s anything your company can do to help speed up the process. During these calls, if the candidate sounds wishy-washy or unsure, you may want to push him or her a bit by mentioning you have other applicants and would like to let them know soon whether or not the position has been filled.
Writing an Offer Letter
Once a candidate has verbally accepted a job offer, you need to seal the deal with an official offer letter. A written job offer helps cement the terms and conditions for both you and your new hire. Your offer letters should include:
- A description of the position: Highlight the start date; job title and description, including essential functions; and regular work schedule or hours. Be sure to include the specific department or team your new hire will be a part of, as well as the direct supervisor for the position. If the role involves managing anyone, list how many direct reports the position will have.
- Pay and benefits: When writing out the salary and benefits, you don’t have to include every benefit and detail, just stick with high-level overviews of what you offer. For example, it’s okay to say that the position offers a health insurance plan; you don’t need to list the provider, deductible or eligibility requirements. To add a personal touch, try to recall if the candidate asked about any specific benefits and, if so, include them in the list.
- An overview of your business: It’s important to remember that nothing is finalized until the agreement is in writing. Even if you’ve already received verbal confirmation, you should keep reminding the candidate why your business is a great place to work. Include a description of your company and what you do for your employees. If you have a company mission statement or set of values, put that in the letter, too.
- Follow-up procedure: Tell the candidate about the next steps and how to officially accept the offer. Set a deadline for when you expect a written response. Also, if you haven’t already negotiated the terms of employment, note which details are negotiable and which are set in stone.
While an offer letter is a formal document, try to match the language and tone to your company culture. Highly professional offices should stick with formal, official language throughout. On the other hand, if your office is more laidback and casual, you might want to include a joke or pop culture reference somewhere. Artistic companies can use colored ink, fancy (but legible) fonts or graphics.