An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Author: Gabrielle Bauer, Natalie Zimmerman

To attract the best, your offer has to speak to them.

You’ve found The One – the candidate who stands out above all others, who holds promise of taking your company to new heights through their contributions. The only thing left is to get this candidate, likely highly sought after, to say yes to your offer.

First Steps in Making an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Perhaps most importantly, ensure you contact the candidate with an offer ASAP – ideally on the same day you’ve decided to hire them. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that another employer will snap them up. Pick up the phone, rather than sending an email: only through a voice exchange can you properly communicate your excitement about them coming on board, as well as gauge the candidate’s emotional response to your offer.

The STEM market is suffering from a talent shortage, with the best candidates in very high demand, so expect your candidate to come to the negotiation table with a clearly defined wish list. While you don’t have to grant every item on the list, this is not the time to argue about menial details such as the wording of the job title, or the flexible start time on a given day of the week. Showing a bit of flexibility here helps keep the negotiation flowing, and may be just the thing which convinces the candidate to give you a “yes”.

Put on your Candidate’s Hat

“The employer-employee relationship doesn’t start the first day on the job. It officially starts with the job offer. Make that moment memorable for the candidate.”  – Jeff Haden, Contributing Editor, Inc. magazine

Your candidate will likely prioritize five areas when evaluating an offer: salary, short-term incentives, long-term incentives, benefits and perks, and of course the job itself. If they’re moving from an existing position at another company, they’ll likely expect a pay increase of at least 10% to make the switch. But don’t just pick a figure based on salary history or industry standards: tailor your salary offer to your candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience – and let them know how you’ve arrived at the figure. Transparency never hurts, especially at this crucial stage.

“Using past salaries to determine a future salary perpetuates the gender pay gap and shows an unwillingness to pay employees their true worth.”  – John Feldmann, Insperity

In addition to discussing base salary, explain the benefits, bonus plan (if any), and any other monetary perks in detail, following up with a written summary of these details you’ve discussed. By the same token, come clean about any constraints. If you’re a startup and have limited cash flow, for example, explain that you can’t currently match a top-dollar salary but can make up for it with an attractive equity program.

Think beyond monetary benefits: today’s jobseekers also place a high value on the ability to work remotely, at least part of the time. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, with many people discovering they enjoy the ease of working from home, or the adaptability of a hybrid schedule. Flexible hours and paid volunteer days can also help attract top candidates looking for employers who value work/life balance.

As for the job itself, bear in mind that science professionals highly value their work being stimulating. As revealed by a Talent in Science survey, most rate the opportunity to do challenging work as a key factor in deciding on a job offer. With this in mind, be sure to highlight the challenging nature of the work, and the opportunities for growth within the company. For example, working on a team that successfully commercializes a drug can galvanize a career, so let your candidate know if you have a big one in the pipeline.

When in doubt, ask.

No two candidates have the same life circumstances, and a perk that means the world to one candidate may not inspire another. Instead of guessing, ask outright: “What working conditions or benefits do you value most?” If you can meet these needs, even partway, you’re on your way to a deal.

Even if the candidate doesn’t push back on any of your terms, resist the temptation to ask for a firm commitment right away. Giving them the time and space to reflect on the offer signals respect, and indicates the culture of the company they’re considering joining. That said, it may be useful to probe them gently to gauge their interest in moving forward, particularly if met with a lack of response. You can simply ask: “I understand you need time to think about this, but how do you feel about the offer?” If you sense hesitation, you can ask further questions or provide information that could move the needle.

What you don’t want is a lukewarm, half-hearted acceptance. A new hire who starts out with an undercurrent of dissatisfaction won’t give you their best. When you finally seal the deal, you want both parties to be enthusiastic about the deal.

If you’re looking to fill a role with a highly qualified candidate, Sci.bio’s recruitment services can help. We know that no two clients are the same, so we provide customized recruiting support that adapts to a given client’s structure and needs, and have placed successful candidates with a variety of companies. Please contact us to connect with a recruiter and discuss your needs, and follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

References

  1. How Can We Attract Engineering and Science Talent to Life Sciences?
  2. How to Make the Perfect Job Offer.
  3. 10 Tips for Making Job Offers to Top Candidates.

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