Hiring new talent for your business is a high stakes game; you want to find your perfect match, you work hard to make the recruiting process run smoothly, and you hope that your dream candidate will love your business as much as you do. And then, when you have got to the crucial point, with an engaged candidate who offers the skills and experience you need, and suits your company culture well, you have the most daunting part – how to make an offer the candidate simply can’t refuse?


Avoid unnecessary delay

Being indecisive could end your working relationship before it has even begun, as an unnecessary delay before offering could have your dream hire running for the hills.
In any recruitment process, there are natural delays for all sorts of reasons, and reasonable candidates will understand this. But it is natural that candidates will worry if feedback is slow to arrive after an interview. Time seems to stand oddly still as a job seeker, and every phone call is answered with a little more nervousness than the last. If your candidate is the one for you, then you can fuel their passion for your business by giving feedback quickly, and making an offer in principle sooner rather than later.

Be enthusiastic

When the time comes to make the offer, remember you are selling this to the candidate. You are selling your business, perhaps yourself as a prospective new boss – perhaps a completely new career or lifestyle path for the candidate in question. Now is precisely the time to blow your own trumpet!

Your enthusiasm for the role, the business and the candidate herself is infectious, and will go a long way to making sure that your offer is well received. If she was the best candidate despite intense competition, tell her. If there is something really striking that made her profile perfect for you, say so. Hopefully, you, your team and the business are eagerly awaiting her arrival – don’t be too shy to share this!

Describe the salary

No conversation about money is easy; but in this case, it’s certainly necessary. You may have a fixed salary in mind, or perhaps a range which you can work within. You may be very clear on the salary your candidate desires, or it might be something of a mystery – either way, you’ve got to start somewhere.

If you know your candidate’s expectations, and they fall within your banding, then of course, this stage should be simple. If, however, you don’t know the expectation, then starting with some questions might help. Some candidates will be very happy to tell you their expectations, other might keep their cards close to their chest as a negotiating technique. If you know the candidate’s previous salary, then a ball park figure of 10% higher (unless, of course, there are specific reasons the individual wants this position, making salary a side-issue) is a good place to start.

Plan for negotiation

So, now you know what money your perfect candidate is looking for – what if you can’t match her aspirations? This is where you must be prepared to negotiate, and to be creative in your thinking.

If your candidate is looking for only a little more than you are able to offer, then perhaps you might consider a more creative solution, such as a staged increase based on meeting performance expectations – demonstrating to the candidate how she can achieve her desired salary with you over time. Or perhaps your business has best in class benefits such as share save schemes, financial support for sports activities, subsidised meals, employee discounts, or vacation time.
If you can’t match the financial figures then don’t despair. Understand what non-financial benefits are important to your candidate and then work to move closer to this – can you offer increased vacation time, world class training and development, progression opportunities, flexible benefits or working from home, for example – all things that candidates would find attractive, often beyond simple monetary remuneration.

Promote the whole package

Whether the salary negotiations are simple and straight forward, or require a little more thought and discussion, remember to promote the whole package of monetary and non monetary benefits you offer. You are selling a job, but also the lifestyle that comes with that job. Describe the company culture, the opportunities for business travel, and for exploring different types of work, and even the social aspects of the business, to ensure your candidate’s enthusiasm builds rather than dwindles.

Ask for feedback

Once your offer is made, ask for the candidates thoughts. Often candidates ask for time to think, especially if the salary offer is below expectations, but this does not mean you can not probe a little. Simply ask, “What did you think of our offer?”, or “Was there anything else you would have liked to have seen in our offer?”, to get some immediate reaction. Once you have insight into her thoughts, you can then seek to address and overcome any objections your candidate might have, leaving her clear of your flexibility and commitment to the offer.

Set it out in writing

The final stage, of course, is setting the offer, and relevant contract out in writing. This provides clarity and certainty to both parties, and gives another opportunity for discussion if there are aspects the candidate has questions or concerns about. From the candidate’s perspective, the contract also provides peace of mind, proof of your commitment to her, at the point that she is preparing to resign her old post. Candidates are far less likely to be tempted by a counter offer if they have already received – and even signed and returned – the contract for their new position.

By making your offer clearly, and in good time, by remaining open minded about the salary and possible non-financial benefits you offer, and keeping an open dialogue with your candidate as far as possible, you have the best possible chance of making an offer she can’t refuse. Set your offer out in writing, get your contract prepared and signed, and start planning for your dream candidate to join your team.