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How to Offer a Job to an Applicant

After you make your final choice of whom to hire for your business, you may think that you and the other decision makers can just sit back and relax. Not just yet.

You still must make the offer official, and you still need to remember that if you fail to handle this phase of the hiring process carefully, you can lose the candidate, or, even if the candidate comes aboard, you can start the relationship off on the wrong note.

Don’t delay

After you make up your mind about a candidate, make the offer immediately. Remember: Even a day or two delay can cost you the employee of choice. If your company has procedures that can slow down the process — for example, no one gets hired unless the president interviews him personally — look for ways to streamline the process.

Put your offer on the table

At this stage in the process, you have no reason to be coy. Call the person you want to hire and give her all the details about pay, benefits, and anything extra. If you don’t have these details nailed down yet, you’re not ready to make the offer.

You should establish a salary range for the position even before you begin recruiting. This parameter can help you stay within your budget should you need to negotiate.

Most companies make job offers verbally by phone and then follow up with an official letter or e-mail. Making the offer by phone rather than waiting to get the candidate back into your office will avoid having too much time elapse between the interview and the offer.

Make sure that you have a standard job offer letter as a template that you can customize and that you clear the template with legal counsel.

After you and the candidate speak or meet again in person, remind the individual of the benefits of joining your firm. Don’t just discuss the financial aspects of the offer. You also should highlight other positives, such as a supportive work environment and exposure to a variety of assignments.

Set a deadline

Give candidates a reasonable amount of time to decide whether to accept the offer. What’s “reasonable” generally depends on the type of job. The time frame for an entry-level job may be a few days, but for a middle- or senior-level candidate in a competitive market or for a position that involves relocation, a week isn’t excessive.

Stay connected

While a candidate is considering an offer, you or the hiring manager should stay in touch with him, or have individuals from the interview team contact him if you’re using multiple or panel interviews. The purpose is for you to reinforce your enthusiasm about the candidate potentially joining your team.

Know how to negotiate salary

After receiving a candidate’s response to your offer, be prepared to negotiate. Job seekers today have access to an abundance of information on salary negotiation through websites and books, so most will enter the meeting knowledgeable on the topic. To reach a fair deal, you need to be equally prepared.

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