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