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Closing the Deal: How to Make a Job Offer Your Top Candidates Can’t Resist

7 Tips to Influence Acceptance

When you’ve been through the hiring process and identified the candidate you want to hire, it’s galling if they reject your job offer. All that arduous work, time, and effort invested in hiring quality people has been wasted.

I discussed the reasons candidates decline job offers in my previous article. In this article, I’m going to share advice that will help you make offers that the best candidates just cannot refuse.

7 Tips to Make an Attractive Offer to Your Top Candidates

Many hiring managers falsely believe that making a job offer is easy. Put the details in an offer letter and wait for the candidate to accept. No matter how wonderful the job, a successful job offer stands on more than this.

You must give it thought and be deliberate in the wording of a written offer in an email or letter. In truth, though, while the offer is the culmination of your efforts, making an offer that won’t be declined starts much earlier in the hiring process.

Here are my top tips to making an attractive offer that is more likely to be accepted by top talents.

  1. Avoid losing candidates by hiring faster

After creating a job opening, it can take anywhere from a few days to three or four months to make a hire.

However, you must be much quicker to fill a job. The time to fill a job is defined as the time between your best candidate applying and your offer being accepted. According to some research, top talent gets hired within as little as 10 days.

Don’t let your best candidates go elsewhere. When you have made the decision to make an offer to a job seeker, move fast.

  1. Maintain effective communication all the way through

A poor hiring process reflects badly on you as an employer. One of the biggest complaints that candidates have is a lack of communication. Don’t fail on this.

Maintain effective communication from the start of the interview process. At each stage, set expectations for timing of the next step. Stay in touch – and always follow up in writing.

  1. Make a strong and enthusiastic offer

When it comes to making the offer, do so in a phone call to the candidate first. This is your chance to sell the job to what candidates expect.

For example, if the candidate wants career progression and personal development, reiterate how it’s a great job for this. If they are most concerned about work flexibility because they have parental duties, speak about how flexible your work cultures are and that you are happy to work to their timetable (within certain parameters, of course).

In short, make the offer about them, and how they will fit in and make a positive contribution to your agency.

Before you make the call, make sure that you have all the information you need to discuss, including:

  • Job description

  • Job title

  • Ideal start date

  • Who the candidate will report to

  • Details of salary

  • Details of bonus, commissions, etc.

  • Benefits and perks

  • Vacation policy

For creatives, make sure that you also detail your in-office requirements – and be prepared to answer all the candidate’s questions.

Be enthusiastic, and make a strong offer, which brings me to the next tip.

  1. Use the 10% more rule

Even for the most attractive job, top talent is seeking a boost in their compensation. If you only offer to match their current salary, or offer less (yes, I really have heard of hiring managers trying this), then you are likely to be disappointed.

So, use the 10% rule – and offer them a package that increases their current salary, benefits, and perks by 10%.

And don’t pussy foot around the issue of pay. Is it worth trying to save a few thousand dollars on base salaries when at best it will cause bad feeling and at worst you will lose the talent you want to hire?

  1. Explain salary and benefits as accurately as possible

To make an informed decision, a candidate will need to know exactly how their salary and benefits stack up. Therefore, you must be as accurate as you can when discussing the financial aspects of a job offer. Be prepared to discuss the detail of health and retirement plans, how the salary is paid and when, any signing-on bonuses (and how they are paid), and all the perks of working in your agency. Don’t leave anything to the imagination.

  1. Get a commitment from the candidate

While you are on the phone, get a commitment from the candidate. You have explained everything they need to know, so they should be in a position to give you a verbal ‘yes’, even if it’s only tentative or conditional on the paperwork confirming your conversation.

If they can’t give you that ‘yes’, this is your opportunity to learn why, and revise your offer if necessary.

  1. Handling a counteroffer

Be prepared for the worst-case: the candidate receives a counteroffer. Before making your offer, you should consider this possibility and what you would do if it does happen:

  • Do you increase your offer? (How would the candidate feel about this? Why didn’t you make your best offer to start?)

  • Should you compete with a counteroffer – is the candidate only in it for the money, and what would happen if they were then offered more money elsewhere after starting with you?

  • Can you afford to miss this talented candidate?

  • How can you persuade the candidate to join you? (If you can’t offer a higher salary, can you increase the benefits? Do you highlight that they said they wanted career progression, and that you can offer this?)

A counteroffer puts you in a difficult position, but it does confirm one thing. If the candidate’s current employer is willing to go the extra mile, then this truly is a talented candidate.

Three mistakes to avoid in the hiring process

When you are hiring for talent to join your creative agency, there are many mistakes to avoid. Not conducting background checks, not following up with references, and not checking the candidate’s technical skills, for example. But there are three less common errors that creative agencies make:

  1. Having a bad careers/jobs page on your website

The world of work is changing. With more people working remotely and freelancing, traditional careers pages are becoming irrelevant. 

Your careers page should showcase your talented people, describing why they work for you and how their career has progressed with your agency. It should be vibrant, energetic, and motivating. Include concise and inspiring job descriptions, and make sure it is mobile friendly.

  1. Treating people as inventory 

People aren’t numbers in the hiring game. They are potential employees for the future, even if they didn’t cut it this time.

Stay connected with candidates, even if you don’t hire them. Add them to your talent pool – you never know when you’ll want to reach back out to these candidates.

  1. Not having feeder pools 

While we’re on the subject of a talent pool, previous candidates should only be the beginning. You’ll find it far easier to locate, attract, and hire the most talented if you network to create feeder pools. 

For example:

  • Connect with adjunct professors at schools to pick the best and brightest

  • Stay in touch with people you connect with at industry events and meetings

  • Develop a wider network of connections on LinkedIn by getting active in relevant groups

There are many ways in which you can develop feeder pools, you’ve just got to think creatively!

In my next article, I’ll delve deeper into the most common mistakes that creative agency owners make when hiring, and discuss how you can avoid them.

In the meantime, feel free to download my eBook, ‘Foolproof Steps to Make Your Hiring Process More Successful’, packed full of tips to help you develop your hiring process to be successful. Or you could do what many of our clients do – take advantage of our recruiting services for creative agencies.

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