Delivering job offers is a lost art

Oddly enough, one topic that does not get a lot of airtime in the HR/Recruiting world is delivering successful job offers. Strange right? Isn’t that the whole point of all of the recruiting and sourcing and interviewing — to deliver an offer to the best candidate? Perhaps some folks assume this is the easy part — all the hard work is in the candidate sourcing and interviewing and once the decision has been made to extend an offer the search is essentially in the bag.

Not true. There are a number of things that can go wrong at this stage, and they absolutely will go wrong if you aren’t diligent.

Therefore, in the spirit of the holidays, my gift to you this year is a little checklist of things to make sure you have in place before you deliver the job offer to the candidate of your dreams.

1. Let’s get the facts straight

At this point we want absolutely no surprises. You need to have all candidates fill out an application* to find out whether they need sponsorship, there are any felonies on their record, and clarify who they were referred to your company by. By ensuring you have all the facts about citizenship, records, and referrals up front it dramatically decreases the chance of you getting a curveball thrown your way at offer time. Ex: “Oh, I forgot to mention I am on trial for insider trading.”

* Make sure to follow legal guidelines for the questions asked on the application, as well as the phrasing used. It’s a good idea to have a legal team look over the document prior to handing it out to a candidate.

2. How much are you making and how much do you need to make a move?

This is a question that should be asked during the very first interview you have with a candidate. Otherwise, how can you make a fair offer if you don’t know what the candidate’s expectations are?

You need to make sure that you have an understanding of the base and bonus structure, as well as any other items that may be considered part of a compensation plan (i.e. stock options, health benefits, matching 401K etc.). You also need to outline your expectations for the candidate. If you cannot pay the candidate what they want be up front about it! It will save everyone time and avoid a rejected offer down the line.

3. Set a time frame

As you get closer to the offer stage make sure you set a time frame to get references checked and an offer to be delivered.

This is the point of the recruiting process that employers frequently lose candidates. If this process takes too long and there is another offer on the candidate’s plate you may be out of luck. News flash: people do not have all the time in the world for you to get three different approvals and six references checked. If you like a candidate, get your ducks in a row and snatch them up!

4. Hello? Is anybody alive out there?

This has happened to every company I have ever worked with: You get excited about a candidate, you put out an offer, and then…nothing. Radio silence from the candidate’s end. What went wrong?

Chances are you did not give them a timeline for when the offer expires. Now they are going to take their sweet time getting back to you, and in the meantime they may just wait to see what those other three companies they’ve been interviewing with have to offer.

EVERY. OFFER. NEEDS. AN. EXPIRATION. An adequate amount of time is about 72 hours. You should never push a candidate sooner, but anything longer just leads to trouble.

Let’s all go into 2013 with a renewed appreciation of the art of delivering offers well. After all, it is a very exciting step in the hiring process, and we could all benefit from getting better at it. Remember, it’s all in the delivery.

Have you been on either side of a job offer delivery gone bad? What happened? What did you learn?

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