How to make a graduate a job offer that they can't refuse
You found the perfect graduate intern. They are intelligent, have great academics, an interest in the world of startups (and your startup in particular) and maybe even a chunk of relevant work experience. The only problem is that another company has a keen eye on this person too – perhaps more than one company - and there may be graduate recruitment agencies involved too (usually well-versed in ensuring their candidate accepts a job offer!). The last card that you are likely to be able to play is the job offer itself. Making a job offer can be tricky, as you need to ensure you go through the correct steps and do it in the proper way, so that the candidate knows that you are serious and genuinely excited for them to join your company.
Here are the main things to think about:
1. Work out the details
This step is probably something you will have thought about earlier in the process (perhaps before the interview stage), however some companies prefer an ad hoc approach to hiring and you might not have the details set out yet. Before making an offer to a graduate, you will need to decide on the specifications of the role and be clear about what they would be entering your company to do. The details in a job offer need to include: position title, salary, start date, length of probation period, any benefits, any conditions the offer is subject to and the requirements of the role itself. Being clear about these points before offering the job to a graduate will mean that they can base their consideration of the role on the facts of the employment. If they have any questions you want to be certain that you can answer them clearly, to continue their good impression of the company.
2. Be prepared for a negotiation
Once you have decided on the details of the offer, you should work out what you would be willing to negotiate on. Is the salary final or can you move up if the candidate asks for more? Are there conditions of bonuses that can be altered if necessary? It’s also worth bearing in mind offering a quick, guaranteed salary review (after 3-6 months, say) can counteract a candidate’s concerns over the initial basic. Negotiating can be a headache, but the process is easier if you come up with concrete certainties from the off – rather than going back and forth and regretting the final decision later. The difference between offering £19,000 and £20,000 seems begligible but can actually make a huge difference - purely for psychological reasons.
3. Do it over the phone
The key to getting in there before other companies lies in how you deliver the job offer. A phone call is immediate and more straightforward than an email. You will be able to discuss the terms straight away and establish whether they are interested in accepting. If they don’t seem as enthusiastic as you would like, don’t be too concerned – graduates are more likely to be tentative about offers as they are early on in their career path. From your end, you have the go-ahead to be as enthusiastic as you like – make them know how much they would mean to your company and the value that you would place on their professional development. You want them to know that it’s them and their skills that you want – not just the first person who seems vaguely up for the job.
4. Send it in writing
The next step is putting the job offer into a document and sending it over to your candidate. Make sure everything is easily understood and incorporates everything you might have discussed on the phone. If the offer is on the condition of reaching certain requirements, such as a grade on leaving university or subject to references checking out, then make this obvious in the letter and invite them to get back to you if they have any queries. While the tone of the offer letter must contain a level of professionalism and cite everything that needs to be included, there are no hard and fast rules that say you can’t inject a bit of personality into it. As with everything in the startup world, a small gesture like a friendly attitude in your offer letter can go a long way towards showcasing your difference from a traditional corporate company – let them know you do things differently and are ready to welcome them into an inclusive and positive office.
5. Follow up
As with most things in the business world, you will want to follow-up to check that they have received your document. This can be either via the phone or email, but don’t wait too long to send it. While you don’t want to pester them while they make their decision, there is no harm in impressing upon them that you would like an answer in order to get things moving with making them part of the team. A follow-up chat is also a good chance to find out if they have any last qualms about the position that they haven’t already brought up and see if there is any way that you can make your company the better option over their other offers.
Once you have the ‘yes’ that you were looking for you can begin to look forward to their first day. Hopefully at the end of this process your new employee will feel genuinely valued by your team and excited to start. As the weeks go on you should continue to check in on your newbie to ensure that everything matches up with their expectations. As you refine and improve you hiring process, bringing the brightest candidates on board will eventually feel easy!
Need help with the hiring process? BrighterBox connects grads with great startups in London - we can help you make great offers to great candidates. How great does that sound?