The hunt is over. All that hard work has paid off, and all you have left to do is shoot of a quick offer email to your candidate of choice and watch that emphatic “yes!” email come right back to you.
Not so fast, you deal maker. Closing the sale of a product or a service agreement often comes down to the number on the page. Closing a candidate, however, is one of those murky, ill-structured people problems that is two-thirds science and a whole lot of art. So, how can you make the most of your offer and raise the chance of an acceptance? Let’s take a look at a few strategies that can help.
First, reexamine your talent management philosophy.
As you build your company, how do you plan to engage the people who join your team as employees? Will they be assets that you deploy strategically to get work accomplished, or will they be partners and investors in the company you will build together? Both options can be successful, but your choice will influence how your present the offer.
Next, consider what you believe the candidate cares about most.
Every candidate will form a different personal story about why jumping in with your dream is in their best interests. For some, it is the excitement of a startup environment. For others, it’s the dollar signs that may present themselves if your company is part of the lucky 10 percent that survives the early stages. You built this company, and you have your own motivations for building something great. Do not assume that your motivations are the same as those of the people who want to work with you. Find out why they want to make the switch, and be sure to acknowledge that in your offer.
Remember, offers are an extension of your brand.
How you make early offers sets the pattern for how you are likely to make future offers. Start early by identifying a methodology that can scale with you, and use organizational tricks of the trade (e.g., checklists) to ensure you cross all your Ts.
Make it a big deal.
I’m not talking dollars. I’m talking impact. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Would you be excited to receive an email with a PDF attached that outlines in black and white some numbers and benefits that will be afforded to you if you put your digital signature on page 4 and return it via email? Or, would you be thrilled to receive a call where the recruiter on the other end recaps your strengths and why you are going to be a great fit with the organization to which you are about to give your time and efforts for hopefully several years, and who takes it even further and answers any of your immediate questions and encourages you to take some time to think through the offer and come back with any additional questions? Take the time and spend the energy to do this right.
Include the right information.
Your offer should be clear and complete. In many states, verbal offers are binding, so be cautious in your negotiations and only agree verbally to those items you are willing to put on paper. If you do start with a verbal offer, but sure to follow it up with a written offer that includes all the key elements of the total rewards you are offering. Along with the standard salary and start date, you should consider including the title of your company and of the position in case the candidate is considering other offers. If you are offering a signing bonus, it should be there as well. Any equity, short-term or long-term incentives that you agreed to? Document those in the offer letter, and do not forget to spell out other benefits like healthcare, disability and reimbursements for equipment and home office set ups. Lastly, be sure to note who the hiring manager is for the role and any other items that were discussed but not yet documented.
And finally, back off… but not for very long.
Accepting a new position is a big life choice. More than likely, the candidate has already been processing this to some degree prior to receiving the offer. However, nothing is truly real until you see that offer on paper. People need time to process big decisions like this, so let your candidates consider the offer and arrange a time to reconnect with them. A rule of thumb is 48 hours, and it is also a best practice to include that time constraint in the offer letter. Let your urgency show the candidate you really want to work together, but also let your urgency act as a safety net so you can quickly pivot to your backup candidates if your first choice declines.
What other tips and techniques have worked for you when negotiating with new hires? Let us know in the comments, and good luck on your next offer!