Getting to the Final Act: The Offer
The last step in the recruiting process is when the talent seeker informs the job seeker that they intend to make an offer and close the employment deal. That process if often uncomfortable for the job seeker, who is concerned that negotiating too hard may result in the withdrawal of the offer (This phenomenon is further concerning if the job seeker is unemployed and anxious to get the job). To have a mediator or intermediary in between the job seeker and the employer softens the anxiety. The corporate recruiter, HR person or executive search consultant will typically play that role. You should know that recruiters never turn off the second best candidate, just in case negotiations fail.
In the final stages of the process, the recruiter would have probably asked the job seeker what his or her salary expectations were, or what his or her previous compensation package looked like. Many job candidates are reluctant to offer that information as they are afraid that the employer may discover that the job seeker’s expectations are actually lower than what they intended to offer. There is, unfortunately, some truth to that, as some organizations don’t really have a salary structure per se, and don’t have competitive salary information (so it’s always better for the job seeker to err on the slightly higher side of the truth and of expectations – just in case). So, they effectively rely on job interviews and candidates to figure out what the job is worth. Of course, great employers know what they will offer to maintain internal equity and present a competitive job offer. They will nevertheless ask about expectations fairly early in the process to gauge if the candidate will fit in their salary structure. It’s always a good idea for the job seeker to do homework to find out what the market value of the job is, and what the total package typically consists of (You may consult a member of your social network).
The job offer should contain not only the complete description of the compensation and benefits package, and how they will be adjusted in the future (It’s a good idea to ask for past history of salary increases and bonus payments), but also a clear statement of what the role and performance objectives will be. The purpose of clarity is never to document the deal in case of legal action such as in cases of employment termination, but rather to ensure that there is mutual understanding between the team leader and job seeker around expectations for the role and its priorities.
It’s always better for the employer and job seeker to verbally agree in principle to the main terms and conditions of an employment offer, rather than exchange numerous versions of an annotated offer. Not only is that back-and-forth process counter-productive, but it may inadvertently make the job seeker look like he or she is greedy, rigid and nit-picking. A conversation better allows the job seeker to explain and rationalize his point of view or position regarding any element of the offer.
The offer will undoubtedly be subject to the successful completion of reference and other types of pre-employment checks related to the nature of the job. Beware of organizations that insist on the individual successfully completing a probation period. This legacy concept allows an employer to terminate your employment at its discretion, without valid reasons, and therefore without compensation. The practice is often reflective of the fact that the employer is not confident in its ability to select the right candidate, or to determine what performance in the role means.
Your references will probably be members of your social network, and one ideally connected to the employer. You may want to have your references pre-qualified by a third party to find out what they will actually say about you (Career-transition firms offer that service). Not only will it be useful to you from a development standpoint, but it will also give you great insight into how you’re perceived professionally (You would be surprised what references will say about you). Also, remember that recruiters are avid users of social networks, and may also get informal feedback from some of their contacts who know you. Works both ways.