How to Make a Job Offer to a Prospective Employee

A job offer is normally negotiated before the formal offer is written

Person sitting at office desk presenting ballpen and employment contract to a prospective employee.
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A job offer is an invitation for a job candidate to become an employee in your company.

The job offer contains the details of your offer of employment, including:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Position job title
  • Name of the supervisor of the position
  • Other terms and conditions of employment

The job offer may be negotiable, depending on the position. Or the employer and the prospect may have negotiated the details of the offer prior to the formal, written offer.

Recommending a Hire

The employees who were involved in interviewing prospective employees make their recommendations to the hiring manager. The manager will make the final decision, in conjunction with the Human Resources staff. They may agree with the interviewing committee's recommendation or choose another candidate.

Setting the Salary for the Prospective Employee

The salary and benefits package will have been decided upon earlier in the recruitment process. Often this decision is made as early as the determination of the need for a position. The hiring manager makes these decisions in conjunction with HR and in consideration of their budget for the position.

With the help of HR—and depending on your company's protocol—informal communication about compensation occurs between the hiring manager or HR and the selected candidate. Occasionally, this discussion occurs in an email. You should always use a single point-person for the compensation discussion.

This single point help to avoid miscommunications. If several people are involved, the possibility of misinformation, a misunderstanding, and potentially, a lost candidate increases. When the salary range and benefits have been discussed and understood during the interview process, this step can progress smoothly.

Entertaining Counteroffers

You will have more leeway to negotiate and make counteroffers with higher-level positions. Beginning to mid-career positions have salary ranges and benefits packages that are standard for new employees. You may experience a potential employee who looks at your salary offer and counteroffers with a request for a few thousand more dollars.

Depending on how you value the candidate and your time investment in reopening recruitment, you may agree, or not. For example, right out of college, a candidate was offered a beginning marketing generalist position at a Washington, D.C., firm. The offer was for $50,000.

Because of the cost of living in the area, she responded with a counteroffer that requested $55,000, which she eventually received. (This was quite scary for her because she was also concerned that the employer would walk away from the negotiation.)

Confirming the Terms of Employment

This informal approach culminates in the preparation of a job offer letter that confirms the terms of the employer. Usually, the candidate has agreed to these terms verbally and in email for their employment during negotiations. Generally, the candidate signs and returns the letter upon receipt.

Sometimes a candidate may decide to reopen negotiations at this point in the process. They may make a counteroffer to the already agreed-upon terms in the offer letter. This action displays a great lack of integrity, and the offer can be taken off the table.

While the informal approach to compensation negotiation is recommended because it builds relationships, saves time and paperwork, and reduces stress for both parties, many employers start the job offer with a standard job offer letter or contract.

In this scenario, the prospective employee may accept the job offer or make a counter-offer that usually asks for a higher salary, potentially expanded benefits, and additional perks that were not in the job offer letter. Senior candidates for higher-level jobs are also likely to ask that the terms of severance if the relationship fails to work out are spelled out in the employment contract.

The more senior the position, the more likely the candidate is to negotiate. The negotiation can last several weeks, as a senior candidate—with reason—will generally ask an attorney to review the employment contract.

Positive Results

When all goes well, the result of the job offer process is an employee who joins your company excited and looking forward to making contributions, getting to know coworkers, and forging a relationship that will last for years. HR, the hiring manager, and participating staff can celebrate the successful recruitment and hiring of a qualified person whose employment they are excited to welcome.