October 26, 2010

Make Your Offer Bullet-Proof; Close the Candidate from the Get-Go

Make Your Offer Bullet-Proof; Close the Candidate from the Get-Go

The cost of hiring is significant. It starts with the effort undertaken by the hiring manager, HR and participating staff. Much time is invested from studying the department’s need and formulating the requirements, to advertising, recruiting and interviewing. Once you find the right candidate, you are almost there. But it’s not over yet.

Despite the high unemployment rate, it is not a slam dunk. Many good candidates are receiving multiple offers, and many applicants are still employed and need to be certain that your company is the right move for them at this time. You need to sell the company and the opportunity. You need to close the candidate.

Of course closing the candidate starts from the beginning. Having a smooth process that keeps the potential employee informed is a great start. Each contact with an applicant is an opportunity to brand and promote your company. You want to choose the right talent to fit your needs and company culture, but don’t forget that you are being interviewed as well. Throughout the process, demonstrate the professionalism and vision of the company as well as the opportunities, incentive, benefits, and corporate culture that you can provide. It’s not just about choosing the best, but ensuring that the best chooses you.

Selling a prospective employee on your opportunity is also the first step to building loyalty and ensuring that the initial enthusiasm is directed and nurtured throughout the relationship. Once you’ve made the decision on the right person to bring on board, be quick.  Just like any sales opportunity, you want to seal the deal in an efficient and timely manner. Candidate could receive another offer, or a counter offer from their current employer, or life changes could occur unexpectedly that might change the game. Being quick about making the offer also demonstrates your desire to bring the person onto the team, solidifying the close. When the process becomes long, the applicant may also get the impression that you don’t know how to make a decision, or that the department or company is not on solid footing, sowing seeds of doubt.

Make sure your offer is competitive. Check on salary trends and be confident that your compensation package is in line with your competitors. Sources for salary information are numerous (Monster, Salary.com, Payscale). Recruiters and professional associations can also give you valuable input into the latest salary trends for any given position and industry. If your dollar figures aren’t as robust as industry standards, offer other incentives such as signing bonuses, relocation subsidies, insurance, stock options, and profit sharing. But it is not just about money, lifestyle benefits are also highly valued and can make a big difference in attracting employees. Does your company offer flextime or telecommuting? Family and other obligations make flexibility in work hours and schedule a very tangible benefit.

Finally, put it in writing. While you want to make the offer verbally, you will need to promptly follow up in writing. A written offer should cover all aspects of the employer/employee relationship: title and responsibilities, the total compensation package, the separation process, other relevant company policies. Anything that needs to be further clarified or discussed can be ironed out right away, and the employment relationship has solid footing from the beginning.

What if your offer isn’t accepted right away? Before you second guess any aspect, ask where the reservations are. Your recruiter can typically help walk through the issues. If there is not mutual agreement on the salary, take a look at whether it is in line with the contribution that person is expected to make. Don’t oversell, if the hesitation is about some other aspect than compensation, this may be a signal that this person is not going to be onboard for the long term. If there is not an enthusiastic meeting of expectations, then this simply may not be the right fit after all.

For more Talent Management articles, see our Employer Resources.

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