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You’ve found a candidate you’re excited about, someone who has the right skills and qualifications, who embodies characteristics and values that align with your practice, who is coachable and can work well with your team. Now make the job offer.
Success, right? Not quite yet. You still need that candidate to accept the position.
The engagement process—when you extend an offer to your chosen candidate—can be nerve-racking and full of uncertainty for business owners. After all the work you’ve put in to recruiting and qualifying candidates, you badly want the hire to go your way. This pressure can make you emotional and reactive, cause you to rush through the engagement steps, lead you to ignore warning signs, and improvise when you most need to be sure-footed and methodical. I know, because I used to operate that way—and it didn’t serve me well.
Let’s take a look now to navigate the offer-making (and, we hope, offer-accepting) step of the hiring process.
Do a gut check. First things first: check in with your instincts about the candidate you’ve selected. If you’re fortunate, maybe you have to qualified, right-fit A-players to choose from. That can feel tough, but it’s a problem all business owners should be so lucky to have. Whether you’re choosing among multiple candidates or looking at a single first-choice, now’s the time to be sure you’re moving forward with a right-fit hire.
I’ve never been uncertain about an A-player I wanted to hire. I always felt a deep confidence these candidates would be assets to my team—and they were. When I moved forward to hire a candidate while ignoring the rumbling uncertainty in my gut? Those were the employees who turned out to be B and C-players. Those waving red flags we all are tempted to ignore? Don’t ignore them now.
It’s simply not worth it to hire a candidate in whom you have less than 100 percent confidence. It will cost you money, time, and frustration down the road. If you don’t have a candidate who passes your gut check, head back to the earlier steps of hiring.
If you are ready to move forward with confidence, act promptly. Top-flight candidates don’t stay in the job market for long. Don’t keep your perfect candidate waiting any longer than necessary.
Prepare the offer
Your offer letter shouldn’t contain any surprises to the candidate who will receive it. Your work up to this point through the hiring process has developed shared knowledge and understanding between you and your candidate.
Shared the specifics of the role, in a job description and position metrics. Your candidate knows in detail the responsibilities and expectations of the position.
Asked questions of your candidate about their professional goals and aspirations—some version of the question, “A year from now, what would need to have happened for you to be completely happy in your professional life?” You know what’s important to your prospective employee, and the ways your offer seeks to meet those priorities.
Discussed terms, including salary, benefits, paid time off, and opportunities for professional development. You used the in-person interview stage to share specific information about compensation, and to give your candidate the opportunity to respond, and let you know whether these terms align with theirs. You know whether or not you’re on the same page.
Getting to this point means you can move forward with confidence in re-articulating the salient details of the position, and your terms of employment. It’s also a great example of how being prepared, systematic, and thorough before and during the hiring process can pay off—big—when you get to the later stages.
What details should your offer letter include? All relevant terms and conditions, including:
- Position title and description of core responsibility
- Position status: full-time or part-time, exempt or non-exempt
- Salary and bonus information
- Benefits information, including insurance, retirement, paid time off, sick leave, continuing education benefits
- Contingencies or conditions of employment, including employment eligibility documentation, non-compete clauses, confidentiality agreements, background checks, physicals, and any other testing
Be sure to include a line for the candidate to sign and date, to formally accept the offer. And include a deadline date for responding, so it’s clear the offer isn’t open ended. I’ve included a sample of the offer letter I used in my practice, below.
Send the offer
Send the offer via email, not snail mail. You don’t want to lose out on a great hire waiting for the mail to be delivered. Be sure to cc members of your staff who will supervise your new employee.
Waiting for—and receiving—acceptance or denial
Now comes the waiting period. With a deadline in place, you’ve gone a long way to avoiding a protracted process. Still, issues can arise during this time.
Communication delays and procrastination. These can be pretty significant red flags. A candidate who is as excited to join your team as you are to have them will make a timely response to your offer. If a candidate delays response, or asks for more time to consider the offer, that’s often cause for concern. You’ll need to ask yourself: does this person truly want to join our team?
Questions and negotiation. Discussing the terms of the offer during the in-person interview will significantly reduce the likelihood of confusion, or a back-and-forth negotiation of terms. That said, sometimes questions arise, and there are negotiation points to be worked through. The most important thing to remember is this: as long as communication is active and timely, the process is working.
There will be times when a candidate responds by asking for higher compensation. When this happens, go back to your gut check. A candidate can disqualify themselves even at this stage, and, you need to be prepared to walk away from a candidate who doesn’t feel strongly like a right fit. If their approach to negotiation sets off alarm bells in your belly, listen. On the other hand, if you’re confident you’re hiring a true A-player who is a great fit for your team, it doesn’t serve you to immediately walk away from the negotiation. A-players tend to know their worth. And top-flight employees generate bigger returns for your business. It’s important to think of employees as investments, not expenses. If you’re 100 percent sure your investment is sound, you may want to strongly consider meeting their terms where you can.
When the candidate says ‘no’
Most of us business owners don’t get every A-list player we want. It’s disappointing not to have an offer accepted, but it’s important to be gracious. If a candidate declines your offer, respond with gratitude, wish them luck, and encourage them to stay in touch. You never know what circumstances might change. Research shows that 80 percent of employees who take an employer’s counter-offer are no longer with their companies six months later. You never know when you might have another opportunity to recruit this top-tier candidate.
When the candidate says ‘yes’
Give them an enthusiastic welcome, to get them off to a positive start. Now’s the time to share with your candidate the next steps in the on-boarding process. Do this promptly, both verbally and in writing, so there’s no confusion and your candidate knows what to expect. Share details about documents they’ll need to submit, and schedules for testing and training.
The offer letter is signed, but the hiring process isn’t done. The most important step is yet to come. Soon, I’ll talk about how to create an on-boarding process that is empowering for new employees for your business.
Questions about right-fit hiring? Schedule a free strategy call to talk about how to improve your hiring process.
Here’s that sample offer letter:
May 16, 20XX
RE: Offer of Employment
Schrier Physical Therapy, Inc. is pleased to extend you an offer of employment as a full time Clinical Director. This position is an Exempt position as dictated by Maryland State and Federal law. This position requires managing all clinical aspects of Schrier PT.
All benefits including bonuses, except as expressly stated otherwise herein, shall commence immediately:
- An annual salary wage of XXX.
- SPT will pay up to $250 towards one of our three options health insurance plans per month.
- May participate in our Simple IRA Retirement Plan. SPT matches up to 3% of annual salary income amount. Employee is full vested after three (3) years of employment.
- Paid time off (PTO) up to XX hours per calendar year.
- 3 Days of paid Sick Leave
- Paid holidays off as outlined in the SPT Handbook
- Bonus: See Clinical Director Incentive
In keeping with standard physical therapy practices for Physical Therapist, we must require that you adhere to the Covenant Not To Compete Clause which states:
Therapist agrees that at no time during the terms of this agreement, or for a
period of one (1) year immediately following the termination of employment with
the company will the employee compete with SPT, Inc on employee’s own behalf
or on behalf of any other person, corporation, or other entity engaged in a
business which competes with SPT, Inc within four (4) miles from the
company’s principal place of business and any other business locations that are or
become operational during employee’s term of employment with SPT, Inc.
Employee agrees and acknowledges that confidential information,
nondisclosure, and non-compete covenants are reasonable, in that they give SPT,
Inc the protections to which it is entitled and yet does not impair employee’s
ability to earn a livelihood.
Your signature below acknowledges your understanding and acceptance of the terms of employment, as outlined above.
Jamey T Schrier, PT DPT OCS
I have read and I understand the terms and conditions of employment with SPT, Inc.
Sample Smith Date Jamey T. Schrier Date