Two words everyone likes to see (image courtesy of

In the world of recruiting, one critical step that is often taken for granted is the offer stage. Overall, this is an exciting phase to reach, peeps. Someone is interested enough to propose marriage! But unlike a typical civil union, you are potentially hitching up with someone that wants to negotiate a pre-nup, control your monthly allowance, and require reference and background checks. This is one serious date.

Once an offer is on the table, there’s still a lot of work to be done before you can celebrate. Here are some insights and bits of advice I can offer to help recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates alike navigate the process and ensure a blissful honeymoon phase.

Pre-offer. Before an offer is presented, it’s important to get all your ducks in a row to minimize the deal going sideways. As a general rule, I am always striving to keep my clients (employer and candidate) in a position to make informed decisions. To do so, each party’s requirements and key information must be communicated and considered: compensation, vacation, benefits, perks, start date, non-competes, background checks, etc. Get all your points on the table, discuss, and take everything into consideration before putting the offer together. Don’t wait until the last minute. After the final offer is presented, it is too late to mention you want to work in your pajamas on Fridays. For realz.

Whether you are a recruiter, candidate, or employer, it’s important to be transparent about requirements. Avoid surprises which only serve to contaminate the process. There’s a saying we have in the recruiting industry: Time kills deals. Don’t jeopardize your process and introduce more time and complexity than necessary.

Negotiation. Once an offer is presented, some back and forth is normal and expected. If the deltas are great, you have some work ahead of you. Just as important as what you ask for is how you ask. Adopting a rigid stance will not yield good results and just piss people off. Approach negotiations with an open mind, prioritize your list of wants (must-have, nice-to-have, icing-on-the-cake), and state your position within the context of what will make the employment proposal compelling from your point of view.

Compensation is typically the biggest variable to take into consideration and requires delicate and deft handling to ensure each party gets what they want/need. Just as importantly, it’s critical that said requirements are communicated in a way that does not come across as petty, unreasonable, and ridonkulous. Make sure early on that everyone is in the same financial ballpark.

Counter Offer. Anyone worth their salt and talented enough to receive an offer is likely already employed and will be subject to a potential counter-offensive from their current employer. Don’t be caught off-guard. Anticipate and expect a counter offer. Have a preemptive and candid discussion about a potential counter, and walk through scenarios to gauge the risk of losing a candidate. Put a solid offer together, get a firm commitment from the candidate, and cross your fingers. If the proper steps are taken, the circumstances should be compelling enough to keep the ex getting from getting back into the picture.

Acceptance. Accepting an offer seems simple enough, but this phase can also be underestimated. Ideally, acceptance should be consummated with a signed offer letter, a hand shake, and celebratory drink. Barring that, have the conversation over the phone and get the verbal commitment. Make it an occasion rather than a formality. A nice touch would include a phone call or visit from the organization’s founder, owner, or top leadership. Make the candidate feel welcomed and special. This will serve to reinforce the significance of the moment and pending union, and set the stage for a positive working relationship and dynamic. There is plenty of time to formalize with signed paperwork once this is completed.

Along the value chain of job search, the offer stage is where I believe recruiters earn a significant part of their commission. It’s during this phase when we can broker and negotiate points without feelings getting hurt, ensure everyone’s needs are met, and we can make things happen. If you are in a position to use a recruiter, take advantage of this service and maximize your chance of getting a compelling offer.