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This blog article, submitted by Elizabeth Trcka, Skywalk Group Partner, is the final recruiting topic for the month of November. Next month we will round out the year with entertaining and informational blog articles from our Skywalk Group team.
How to best prepare and ensure that your job offer will be accepted. No surprises!
To reach an offer acceptance by a candidate, there should be no surprises once you are ready to extend the offer. Keep in mind, the offer process starts from the minute you engage a potential candidate. By constantly asking qualifying questions, pre-closing the candidate, and keeping the client informed, you can minimize the risk of investing countless hours and resources in a candidate who declines an offer.
Gather information throughout the recruiting process
One of the most common mistakes in job offers is there was not enough information gathering and giving early in the process. As a result, candidates are surprised by compensation, location, start date and a wide variety of other factors.
During the recruiting process, make it a conscious effort to gather the key data points during the initial conversations. A couple of must have’s;
- Last 2 -3 year’s W2 income
- Percentage of income from base and bonus
- Expected income for next job—base and bonus
- Ability and willingness to commute to the office (if required)
- If relocation is necessary, the expected costs and/or components (moving expenses, home sale, breaking a lease, etc) involved for the candidate
- Desired start date
As you collect this data, you should also be giving the same information back to the candidate. Confirm that the compensation is within available range, that the relocation needs are within budget, and that the desired start date matches the company’s needs. If one of the data points is out of line with your expectations, discuss it then. You do not always need to resolve the difference then, but make sure it is widely known before the decision to move forward is made.
The final part of doing your homework is learning the candidate’s selling points. Why are they interested in the position? What are their long-term career goals? What kind of corporate culture do they prefer? Start documenting the data points that will allow you to build a compelling sales pitch when the time comes to negotiate and close the candidate.
Most important is to document the information. All of this information should be a) collected, and b) confirmed more than once during the phone screening, initial interviews and final interviews. It never hurts to say “When we spoke on November 15th we discussed a salary range of $65,000 to $70,000—is this still what you are thinking?” It lets the candidate know that you are paying attention, which is both reassuring and reduces any urge to renegotiate late in the game.
Pre-close the candidate
Through the interviewing process, you should be continuing to 1) collect the necessary data, 2) confirm accuracy, and 3) begin to lay the groundwork for your sales pitch. Remember the ABC’s—Always Be Closing.
Pre-closing a candidate is the step that has the most impact on the acceptance rates of job offers, and is one often skipped. Once you think you feel the candidate has a legitimate chance of receiving an offer, make the pre-closing call. The goal is to outline the details of an offer, but be very clear that this is a confirmation of the candidate’s interest and not a verbal offer.
Begin by saying you and the group/company have not made a final decision to extend an offer, but you think they are a strong candidate and would like to talk through the details of what an offer may look like. Recap the information you have documented—compensation, salary/bonus, location, desired start date. Then walk through the same points with ranges of the offer. Highlight and discuss any discrepancies between your expectations and the candidates. A couple of sample questions you may want to use include:
- If we were to extend you an offer that looked like this, would you be interested in joining us?
- Are there any reasons why this offer would not be acceptable to you?
- Is this offer what you were hoping for? When would you be able to start?
- Have you discussed this opportunity with your family/partner/significant other or do you need more time to discuss it?
- Do you think your current company will give you a counter offer, and is there a chance you would stay?
All of these questions open opportunities for further discussion and gives you a better sense for where the candidate is in the decision making process. Once you get a feel for where you align and where you don’t, reiterate that there are other candidates in process and other considerations before making the formal offer. Wrap up the pre-closing conversation with a specific time when the candidate will hear from you with details on next steps. Again—not an offer, but “decisions on next steps”. Once that time and date are set, stick to it! Even a half-day’s delay sends the wrong message and puts you behind other competitive offers. Hopefully you will be calling with a formal offer, but at the very least you will call with an update and set a new time and date for follow-up.
Extending the offer
Once you have agreed internally to move forward with the offer, call the candidate at the time set previously or schedule a new time to talk with the candidate about next steps. While you want the conversation to be natural and comfortable, one potential outline and structure for the conversation would be:
- Start out with the good news—“We’d like to formally extend you an offer!”
- Tell them what you are going to tell them—set the agenda of the conversation
- Sell the opportunity and alignment with the candidate’s goals, which by now you have already discussed in detail:
-Start by describing the immediate impact the candidate will make
-Discuss the long-term opportunities for the candidate
-Highlight the company’s strengths—growth, vision, culture, etc
- Create a direct link between the candidate’s previously stated career and personal goals and the job
- Discuss the details of the offer. Specifically address any areas where the offer does not meet the candidate’s requests or issues discussed in the pre-closing call.
- Ask for feedback
-If the candidate is satisfied with the details, ask for a verbal acceptance—“So if you are good with the offer and this is a verbal acceptance, I’ll put together the formal offer letter and get it out to you.” (There is no reason to send the offer if you do not have a verbal acceptance.)
-If the candidate has remaining questions or would like time to consider the offer, identify the areas of concern. In many cases, the candidate will want something on paper—offer to outline the details of what the offer would be in an email rather than send out the formal offer letter
- Once the candidate has verbally accepted:
-Prepare the candidate for a counter offer, if relevant. Walk them through how they will respond to a counter offer from the current employer—remind them why they are leaving and address what they will likely offer them to stay. The loyalty of a candidate that accepts a counter offer will always be in question by the employer.
-Discuss next steps and timeline. Let them know when the offer will go out and how long they have to accept. Always set a deadline for formal written acceptance—we recommend a deadline of less than 3 business days, with 1-2 days being preferable. If you have done your pre-closing work, this should be a formality and should not require much consideration.
-Let them know the formal paperwork will be sent, and make sure they have it in their hands within 24 hours. Whenever possible, email a PDF version of the offer letter or overnight the offer packet to the candidate.
- Final steps
-Follow up with the candidate to make sure they received the paperwork and everything is in order.
-Always require the offer letter to be signed and returned by the date specified. It may seem obvious, but we have had clients in the past just send out the letter and wait for the candidate to show up on the first day with the signed paperwork. Not surprisingly, they had an abnormally high rate of candidates back out of their offers, accept competitor’s offers or just never show up to work.
-Once the offer is in-hand, the recruiter or hiring manager should follow up with the candidate at least once a week until the start date. The longer the time period between acceptance and start, the greater the risk of the candidate backing out.
- Check in and follow up. Be sure to check in with the candidate the first week to see how things are going. If there is any disconnect between the candidate’s expectations and reality, you want to identify them quickly.
Anyone who has spent months recruiting the perfect candidate only to have it unravel at the last minute understands the importance of a smooth negotiation and closing process. Given the amount of resources required to attract the right candidate, the process of negotiating and extending a job offer is often overlooked and undervalued. However, by following a few guidelines and best practices, you can drastically reduce the risk of losing a candidate at the offer stage.
Coe College Student Alumni Association Presents:
What can you do to fine tune your skills to be hired in the future? What skills do you need?
Join the group on Wednesday, March 31 as David Tominsky, 1998 Coe College graduate in English, discusses what you can do to have a better chance of being hired. David has ten years of experience working for the largest staffing company in the country. He has placed over 300 people into high income positions and currently serves as the Director for Skywalk Group, an HR consulting firm here in Cedar Rapids. He is also an expert on using social networking to recruit top talent. Get Linkedin with David today!
For students who attend, this includes free dinner and advice on how to get hired! Learn how to get prepared for the real world. What could be better?
If attending, please respond to Kristen Blodgett, SAA Director of Careers, by Sunday, March 28 with your graduation date, major, and whether you want a vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Questions contact Jean Johnson, Director of Alumni Programs, 399-8608 or email Click here to view email address.
Every company I have worked for depended on customers to buy our products or services and on sales people to take an active role in growing our business. The main tool used to document our business: past, present, and future, was a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The purpose and use varied but their core was consistent.
This article will tackle five significant benefits of acquiring a sound customer relationship management strategy. Specifically, we will discuss how a CRM increases visibility to critical business intelligence, boosts productivity of staff (especially sales staff), impacts hiring decisions, assists in the alignment of resources, and identifies important trends in your relationship with your customer.
Think about a question you want answered about your business. Now think about a question your customer may have about your business. Who has the ability to arm themselves with the information to answer these questions?
Consider sitting in a leadership meeting and one of your investors wants to know how much business you have in the pipeline for next quarter or the next fiscal year. Situations like this happen everyday and not having an answer to a simple question about your business could kill an opportunity faster than you may think.
Spend some time and survey your clients to find out what they really want to know about your business so that you can sell your competitive advantages. Even if you never think you will need outside financing, still consider the types of information that potential investors consider important when making capital investment decisions. There is a very good chance that having this information readily available and accurate will still be helpful to you. Consider reports you want to review consistently like sales activity, forecasts, target and active customers, and other business intelligence critical to your business.
Increasing the quality and visibility of information specific to your business builds credibility with your customer, it arms your employees and leaders with knowledge that is critical to success, and will assist you in managing the overall performance of your business.
A CRM can help you gain valuable information about customer interaction through sales activity and marketing campaigns. It will provide you with the information that can help you manage employees. You still need to manage employees and implementing a CRM creates a new dynamic in performance management.
Salespeople can be reluctant to use a CRM for several reasons. It is critical for success to gain buy in from the users of the CRM. They are entering in customer interaction data so be sure to not overlook the importance of users having a full understanding of the purpose of the tool. If you sell it as sales activity tracker you may have a hard sell. If you focus on the other key drivers in this article you will likely have an easier time gaining acceptance.
Hiring projections require credible data if they are going to have any chance of being maximized. Something as important to your company as the talent acquisition process should not be left to guessing and chance.
There is significant amounts of data that can be captured through the effective implementation of a customer relationship management strategy that allows you to know what type of person you need to hire and when you need to hire them. For example, you may find that as you start to track sales activity that a lot of your salespeople’s time is spent on tasks that could easily be handled by administrative staff or a analyst. Instead of hiring more salespeople, you could uncover a more cost effective staffing strategy of hiring a sales support associate that assists multiple salespeople with these tasks.
You may discover performance and productivity issues with your employees through the data aggregated through a CRM which you use to support the need for sales training or even support the need to address performance management.
Personally, I like the philosophy of showing a salesperson how to showcase their piece of the business and show them ways to map their own growth by opportunity size, win percentages, territory and account penetration, and help them uncover opportunities to support additional hires to support the business that they help to build. Using your CRM to motivate employees to strive for advancement opportunities translates to a significant ROI.
One of the many things made easier by credible information will be your ability to effectively create a resource plan. Resource planning expands beyond personnel and will include, at the very least, facilities and equipment.
Your business needs may be significant enough to warrant the need for a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. For the purpose of this article, consider the data you collect should enable you to forecast skills and time required to complete your business. Mapping out project schedules helps you maximize the talent you have on board. Understanding the talent you have on board allows you to maximize the opportunities you take on because they will be better aligned with your core competencies.
My recommendation is that you invest the time required to fully understand what you want and need to know about your business, how you are going to acquire and document that information, and who will be responsible for building this knowledge bank.
Once you have really thought out how to maximize the use of this technology in your environment, focus on the processes and practices required to create consistent data that allows you to accurately track customer trends.
Think ahead to what you want your end result to be. We are using our CRM to generate one of the core reports used in our executive meeting each week and using several reports in our business development meeting. The professional services industry is not atypical: understanding our customers and our interactions with our customers drives our business everyday.
The next steps
Skywalk Group has helped many companies establish a winning strategy to grow their business by helping them uncover the knowledge needed to make better business decisions. We are also skilled in developing customized CRM’s that will fit with your overall business strategy and needs. If you are interested in setting up a consultation with us to explore what technology solutions best fit your business need, please contact us at Click here to view email address.
The effective implementation of a sound business strategy always has its challenges, if you are interested in discussing hiring forecasts, professional development, or sales and leadership training that is customized for your business, just let us know.
–David Tominsky, Director, IT Staffing