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How to extend a job offer

It’s finally time. You’ve done your interviews, you’ve done your due diligence, and you’re ready to extend an offer. Now all that’s left is getting to “Yes!” Here are some things to keep in mind.

Before making the offer

This is an exciting time—but also a big decision. Take extra steps to make sure you’re making the best possible choice, as well as protecting yourself and your business. These steps include:

• Running a background check: According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 37% of all applicants put some false information on their applications, and 65% of resumes are enhanced or exaggerated. Running a background check through a service like GoodHire can ensure you’re getting a quality candidate, and protect you from liability if it turns out the candidate is hiding a criminal past.

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• Running a drug screening: Pre-employment drug screening can lessen the impact of drug abuse on your business. Basic drug screens cost as little as $50 to $100.

• Finalize documentation: Make sure you’ve created an employee manual or handbook spelling out company policies and procedures, instituting a 90-day probationary period, and creating non-compete/confidentiality/nonsolicitation agreements as well as computer and email agreements.

Having the money conversation

Because you’ve been talking money since the beginning of the process, you know what the candidate is expecting. You also know that you can afford it. You did talk about money, already, right? If not, it’s time to pick up the phone. Head back to my July column for strategies for how to approach the money talk.

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Verbally extend the offer

Always extend the offer verbally first. Although doing this in person gives you the best chance to read their reactions and non-verbal cues, most verbal offers are made over the phone. By verbally extending the offer, you give the candidate a chance to ask questions and clarify things. You will also find out if there are any major issues, which you can address before you send a formal written offer.

Be sure to keep the lines of communication open. It’s better for your candidate to ask questions than for them to assume the issue is insurmountable and decline the offer.

The offer letter

A well-thought-out offer includes the following:

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• A warm and engaging opener
• The title of the position
• The address where they will be working
• Compensation details
• Expected schedule/work hours
• An overview of the benefits package
• Out-of-pocket costs for benefits
• A closing with a deadline for an answer

Come prepared

You may have to compete against multiple offers or against a counter offer from their current employer. Even after they accept your offer, remember that the deal isn’t done until they show up for work that first day.

Don’t be offended if the candidate tries to negotiate with you—this is common. Money is the most commonly negotiated item, but other elements you can use to sweeten the pot are vacation days, flexible scheduling, telecommuting, etc. Be open-minded, but make sure you don’t negotiate away everything. My best advice is to be straightforward. Don’t bend so far to a candidate’s wishes that you put yourself in a precarious position. You’ll resent them before they even start.

If they decline

Sometimes you just can’t get to “Yes.” The important thing is to learn from the experience. Why didn’t they accept the offer? How can you improve so that it doesn’t happen again? It stinks when someone declines an offer—but it is one of the best learning experiences in the hiring process.

If they accept

Congratulations! Your hard work paid off, and a terrific candidate is joining your team. To find out how to set them up for success from Day 1, check back for my October column.

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