By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

After you’ve put in all that time looking and interviewing, you’ve found the one you want. Now is not the time to lose your candidate because you didn’t handle the offer quite right. You’ve been in the driver’s seat during the process so far. Once you extend an offer, you relinquish a lot of that control.

At this stage in the process – especially at this stage in the process – you’ll want to give yourself every advantage.  This is not about handing someone a formal offer and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. This is about being pro-active to land the candidate you want. With all the time you’ve invested so far, why not?

Move fast once you’ve made your choice. Pick up the phone and call your candidate as soon after the final interview as you can. Announce your decision and play up all the positives that led you to it.

Schedule a face-to-face meeting in the next day or two so you can deliver the offer. If your candidate is not in your city, Skype or other video connection can give you the advantage you need. Being able to watch your candidate during the offer discussion is important to managing the process.

Point out your candidate’s decision deadline as you schedule the meeting. (It’s the rare case for the deadline to extend beyond a week.) Alerting the candidate to the deadline is your opportunity to ask, “Do you see any problem in making your decision by then?” Anything other than an unqualified “No” should trigger, “Tell me why you don’t think you can make the decision by then.”

The answer might be strong enough to warrant extending the deadline. If the reason is weak, invite your candidate to the offer discussion anyway. Start by reiterating the deadline and asking if the candidate still wants to discuss the offer.

Open the discussion with a recap of the positives you used in the scheduling call. Add in any personal comments from others who spoke with your candidate. The employer-employee relationship doesn’t start on the first day on the job. It actually starts with the job offer. You can help yourself if you make that moment memorable for the candidate.

Check for counter-offer potential. “We don’t make offers to candidates so they have leverage for a better deal where they are. Is there any reason to think that would be an issue in your case?” Anything other than a strong “No” may be cause for delay.

Show the money. Describe the base salary and how any bonus plans work. Either review the health and other benefits, or put a written summary in your candidate’s hand right then. Talk about any other perks, especially if they’re things that didn’t get covered in your prior discussions. If your candidate sits across the desk during this conversation, close by handing over the full, written offer. Arrange to overnight it to your out-of-town candidate. Nothing says “We want you” like a job offer. Make your candidate feel embraced.

Raise the subject of a start date. Make it clear you’d like to have her start yesterday, but were curious about the timing she thought would work. If your firm has a new employee orientation, you can put that into the conversation. If the orientation affects start date, you have another excuse to bring it up.

Share your empathy. Invite your candidate to talk about giving notice: “How do you feel about giving notice after working there for X years? How will your boss react?” Be sensitive to any hesitation you hear. Even if your candidate had a big smile while you described the offer, the thought of having to resign will create stress and anxiety.

Reiterate the positives, shake your candidate’s hand and send her on her way. This entire conversation really shouldn’t take more than ten to fifteen minutes.

Quality BV/LS talent is hard to find. When you do, give yourself the best possible chance of success.

John Borrowman