November 26, 2011

Giving a Job Offer – Make the Candidate Feel Like a Winner

When your people feel like winners they’re happier and perform better.

When I graduated from business school in May 1999 I was killing myself to get a job in the dot com industry.  I landed an offer with Amazon.com.  I was ecstatic.

But the cash part of the offer was very low.  Given living expenses and student loans it would be tough to make ends meet.  I asked for more money.

The answer was a blunt “No, this is the offer.  Take it or leave it.”

I left it.

Amazon did not make me feel like a winner.  They made me feel pushed around.  They made me feel like they were doing me some kind of favor by offering me a job.  They made me feel unimportant.

I never want candidates for my team to feel this way.  You shouldn’t either.

Here’s how to give an offer the right way: Call the candidate personally.  Tell them how much they impressed everyone.  Tell them what a great fit they would be with the team.  Communicate excitement.

Most important — be sure to leave room in the offer for negotiation.

Remember, the best candidates have options.  And most of the best candidates will ask for more money.

Please, please don’t respond “That’s the offer.  Take it or leave it.”  Such a response will make the candidate feel like I did with Amazon.  That’s no way to begin the relationship.

Instead, tell the candidate “I understand your position.  Let me see what I can do with HR/the budget/approval authority.”  You might also ask “If we could give you more, would you say yes?”

Call them back a few hours later.  Tell them “Here’s what we are able to do for you” and tell them the higher offer.  Go for the close again.  You might have to go through this cycle two or three times.  If so, make sure that each incremental increase is less than the previous one.

If you’ve done this with a little style, your candidate will feel good, like they “won” the negotiation.  That’s what you want.

Planning your offers in advance so that you can increase them if the candidate asks for more will make your candidate feel like a winner.  Winners will join your company full of energy and good feelings.

Game on!

[Why not share your own thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below?]

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  • Thank you for this post Chris. I am a candidate and not a recruiter, this make me feel that I forgot some important idea during the offer negotiation.
    Next time, I’d better to ask for more on negotiation :) Cause I the good one ha ha :D

    • Hi Hoa — One of my rules is “Don’t ask, don’t get!” Maybe the answer is no, and you lose nothing by asking. And maybe the answer is “yes.”

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Thao Nguyen

    Hi Chris,
    Many thanks for your sharing, it’s useful for me as I am working in recruitment job.
    Cheer
    Thao Nguyen

    • Thanks Thao. I’m sure you have lots of other tips. It would be great if you could share them with others on this post.

  • mu

    “No, this is the offer. Take it or leave it.”
    Wow, that’s a wonderful way to drive out the most talented ones.

    • Yes, it is. Making a candidate feel like a winner is so easy and beneficial. It just takes a little planning.

  • sr

    Great post. My recruiter/director did this to me when I was joining my current company and I felt awesome (I also negotiated it up, but he made me feel excited and confident through the process).