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OWNER'S MANUAL

How to Make the Perfect Job Offer: 9 Tips

Now that you've found your top candidate, don't lose her. Here's how to seal the deal.

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You found the perfect candidate for your job opening. She's clearly the best person for the job. She's awesome.

So why take a chance on losing her? If that happens you'll be forced to hire the second best candidate or, worse, have to start over.

I asked Jorg Stegemann, a recruiter and director of of executive search at Experis Executive (a division of ManPower Group, how to make a job offer the right way.

Here are Jorg's nine steps to a successful job offer:

1. Move fast.

If you've made a decision, why wait? Time is always your enemy in your recruiting, even in a down economy exceptional talent is rare.

Whenever possible contact the selected candidate later the same day of their final interview. If not, make contact within a day or two at most. Not only can you ease the candidate's stress during the post-interview waiting period but you also show how thrilled you are to make them a part of your team.

2. Always call.

Some companies send emails or letters. Don't. Make a phone call; not only can you convey your excitement, but you can gauge the level of enthusiasm of the selected candidate, too.

3. Be enthusiastic.

Be professional but be enthusiastic. Tell the candidate she was your first choice out of 100 resumes. Explain how impressed others are with her background and skills.

It's natural to play your cards close to your vest during the interview and selection process, but once you've made a decision, drop your reserve. Don't worry—conveying your excitement won't affect the salary negotiation process.

Remember, the employer-employee relationship doesn't start the first day on the job. It officially starts with the job offer. Make that moment memorable for the candidate.

4. Apply the 10% rule.

Generally speaking, candidates expect a pay increase of at least 10% when they change jobs. Few candidates will change jobs for the same or lower salary (barring unusual circumstances, of course.) And if they do, they'll feel some level of resentment every time they get their paycheck.

Never offer a salary below their current salary unless there are concrete, objective reasons to do so—and even then, think hard about it.

5. Show the money.

Explain pay and benefits as thoroughly and accurately as possible. Describe the base salary, how any bonus plans work, provide a fairly thorough overview of health and other benefits, and describe any other perks.

Then follow through with a written breakdown of all salary and benefits terms.

Never give an employee any reason to feel they were the victim of a salary bait and switch—and never make bonus or perk promises you cannot keep.

6. Get a commitment—even a tentative one.

Many candidates will ask for time to consider the offer. That's natural—but that doesn't mean you can't ask questions. Say, "I completely understand... but can I ask what you think about our offer?"

Any hesitation the candidate feels indicates they may turn you down, so ask questions, without being pushy, and see if you can overcome any objections or provide additional information that will make acceptance more likely.

7. Follow up in writing.

Then put everything in an email or letter. Include all elements of the offer: job title, base salary, benefits, vacation, holidays, perks, etc.

And make sure to set a deadline; three days is typical.

8. Feel their pain.

In my experience, one-third of the candidates who refused a job offer did so because they accepted a counter-offer from their current employers.

Talk about how it will feel giving notice: "How do you feel about giving notice after working there for five years?" "How will your boss react?"

Be sensitive to the candidate's feelings; even if they desperately want to change jobs, resigning will still create stress and anxiety.

9. Ask the "killer question."

If you can't get a good read on the candidate's level of interest, if the decision-making period is dragging on, or if you just want to make absolutely sure the candidate will show up on their first day, ask this question: "I interviewed two other good candidates for this job.  Can I tell them the job has been filled?"

Few people will lie about their intentions, especially when lying might affect another person that really wanted the job.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: May 1, 2012

JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.
@jeff_haden




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