Making job offers that get accepted

Nov 13, 2017

You go to so much trouble to find the right person for your critical job opening. Sometimes, the process takes months. The higher level the job, the longer it takes to fill. Everyone is busy. Just finding times when the candidate can come to meet with you and your people can be difficult.

After an exhaustive search and plenty of dead-ends, you get to the point where you are ready to make a job offer. You extend the offer and it turns out you are unable to hire the person you thought you’d get. They turn you down.

What went wrong? What can you do differently next time to avoid wasting so much time? Here are five points you need to consider:

  • Make sure you are offering the job to the right person. Sometimes it’s obvious to me that there is no way a candidate is going to take the job offer. If it is too lateral of a move – or your company is not as prestigious as the one where the candidate works at present – or the candidate has a spouse with a better job – maybe it’s just unreasonable to expect them to take your job.
  • Make sure you do everything you can leading up to the offer to create a positive impression. Who did the job candidate meet with? Positive people who think well of the firm or negative ones who might say the wrong thing? In cases where a relocation is required, did you get a good realtor involved to show the candidate the area?
  • Make sure your offer is a decent one. “Decent” in most cases means a minimum of a 10 percent BASE salary increase in the case of a local move, or 15-plus percent when a relocation is involved. And don’t get confused about this. Your offer, bonus included, is not the issue. I’m talking about base salary here. Also, don’t think just because you are in a lower cost of living area that these numbers will go down. Good people (i.e., not desperate, unemployed ones!) expect more pay to make a move to a new firm. It’s risky!
  • Don’t give any more than 24 to 72 hours for a decision. If you give longer than that I can almost guarantee you that you will have a turndown. All you are doing is giving the candidate time to shop your offer with other companies or even their present employer. No one needs more than two or three days.
  • Warn the candidate about the possibility of a counter offer! Most companies do not bring this up. You need to! Ask this simple question of each candidate you are making an offer to: “Now John Q Engineer, what will you do when you go to turn your notice in and your current employer tries to talk you into staying?” Wait to hear their response and then say, “They will put you on a guilt trip, tell you all of the plans they ‘had’ for you, and promise you anything to get you to stay. The reason is you caught them unprepared. And our experience is that means they will do whatever they must to keep you on-board now while at the same time immediately starting to look for your replacement!”

Please take my advice here. You don’t want to waste weeks and months, and then not get the person you wanted badly enough to make a job offer to. That’s a waste!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.