Making the right job offer

Good news. The right candidate has come along for your job vacancy - it's time to make a formal job offer. It’s a step that calls for prompt action backed by careful planning to ensure your ideal candidate doesn’t accept an offer elsewhere.

Follow our job offer guidelines to avoid being left with hiring the next-best applicant, or worse, having to restart the recruitment process from scratch.

Don’t delay with a job offer

When you have found the perfect candidate, prompt action is essential. If a top talent is keenly sought after, any delays in making an offer can see candidates accept a job offer elsewhere (potentially even with a competitor). Thus it’s a smart business practice to act quickly when it comes to making a job offer.

Agree on salary and other benefits

Settling on salary arrangements is a key part of a formal job offer, and some degree of negotiation is quite normal.

The better candidates will typically have a good idea of their market value, and that makes it essential for your minimum-maximum salary band to reflect the qualifications, experience and skills that your preferred candidate brings to the table.

The Robert Half Salary Guide is a useful resource here. It provides the latest salary benchmarks and current market trends to let you see if the salary you are offering is competitive – and whether the candidate’s expectations are reasonable.

While salary is an important factor, candidates will want to look at the whole package before deciding whether to accept the position. In addition to financial benefits, it can be worth reminding the candidate of the advantages of working for your organisation over others. These may include an exciting company culture, formal professional development programs, career advancement and opportunities for flexible work arrangements.

Some degree of flexibility may be called for if you have an outstanding candidate you don't want to lose. You may need to offer a higher salary than originally planned, but be open and transparent about how far you are willing to go.

Draft a job offer letter

While an initial job offer may be made verbally, it is important to back it up in writing as quickly as possible with a formal letter of engagement. This will describe the terms and conditions of employment and set out basic details including:

  • Position and job title
  • Start date
  • Hours of work
  • Pay and other entitlements
  • The terms of any probationary period if applicable
  • Termination of employment / notice periods

The written offer should be accompanied by a description of the position listing the key duties of the role.

Legal advice isn't always necessary for hiring new staff though it may be helpful if the job has specific requirements particularly in regard to confidentiality or non-competition. If in doubt, have a legal professional review the job offer letter to ensure you've covered all the important issues. But don’t let this delay the process.

Remember, at this stage, timing is critical. Be sure to come through with a job offer as soon as you've made your choice. Jobseekers can be left frustrated by a prolonged recruitment process and that makes it more likely they will apply for roles elsewhere.

Be ready for a counteroffer

In a competitive market, it is not unusual for high calibre candidates to receive a counteroffer from their current employer. It pays to be prepared for this. 

If a candidate mentions a counteroffer, let them explain the circumstances. They may be unsure about whether making the move to your organisation is the right step. If that’s the case, think about how you can reassure the candidate that taking up the new role is a wise career choice.

If the candidate’s current employer is offering a pay rise or a promotion, consider whether this is something your company can realistically match. Or is there some other type of benefit you have overlooked, but could still offer?

Either way, avoid getting caught up in a bidding war with the other company. Even if you win, you could eventually find it challenging to retain the employee.

Set a timeframe for a decision

Switching to a new job is a significant decision, and even though you may need to fill the role fast, be prepared to give the candidate time to consider your job offer. Offering a response time of 24-48 hours is reasonable – possibly longer for senior or executive roles. Nonetheless, make it clear you would like an answer within a few days.

Waiting longer than this can be risky. The candidate may be considering a job offer from another organisation, and you don't want to be the hiring manager who missed a golden opportunity. That said, be on the lookout for warning signs that the candidate doesn’t really want to work for your company. If the candidate is clearly hesitant about accepting your offer or continually puts off giving a response, it could be time to reconsider the applicant.

By following these steps, you increase the likelihood of receiving a timely response to your job offer, and welcoming a fantastic new employee to your workplace.

Want more hiring tips and recruitment advice? Visit our recruitment process hub.