There is an old lawyer’s axiom – Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. I think this saying also applies to employers extending job offers to management level candidates. I’ve seen too many clients extend offers before they know if the candidate will accept, only to get a turn-down.
Once the offer is extended, the power shifts to the candidate, and often, that is when negotiation begins. The negotiation should be done before the offer is extended. An employer should know whether the offer will be accepted, before they actually give the offer to the candidate. Here is what the employer should know before extending the offer:
- What other factors will influence acceptance? These could include: benefits, bonus, growth potential, relocation issues, spouse’s job, kids in high school, elderly parents, etc. Dispose of these issues before discussing money, and the money becomes easier to discuss.
- What are the non-monetary reasons the candidate wants to come to my company, and/or leave his/her current company?
- What are all the components of the candidate’s current compensation package? Which are important? [Some candidates don’t care about bonuses, and want a higher base; others want the opposite]
- What amount does the candidate want to work at my company?
- What is the minimum level at which the candidate will walk away?
- Would a sign-on bonus (one time payment) substitute for some salary (permanent cost)?
When an employer takes in all the factors and truly understands the candidate’s motivation, then a “test” offer can be given, accompanied by a “trial close.” “If we offered you X, would you accept?” If you get a response “I’d have to think about it”, then you have to discover all the things the candidate would be thinking about, until you get a “yes, I’d accept“. Then the next day, you can extend the offer, and know that you’ll get a yes.