I have been working with a recent graduate to get his CV up to scratch for his first job in his chosen field, we have produced a good, strong CV and also been through some careers coaching to ensure he is applying for the right roles and in the right way. As he started to apply for positions he found a great deal of interest from recruiters and direct from employers, so much so that he had a number of interviews lined up and was now being prepped ready for these when he came across an awkward situation with a recruiter.
To set the scene; he had already been through a 2 stage interview with company A and was due to go for a 2nd interview with company B when he received a call from the recruiter representing company A telling him he had an offer for the position – great news! However the candidate wanted to go for his 2nd interview with company B later the following day as he had a preference for this position/company. Being new to all this, the candidate explained his situation to company A recruiter and asked for a little time to consider his application. Bearing in mind 24 hours since his offer had been made hadn’t passed this shouldn’t be an issue. However recruiter representing company A then started to pile on pressure, stating that the offer may be withdrawn if he didn’t accept now and that he had a list of other suitable candidates which he could supply to company A.
The candidate called me and explained the situation asking what he should do, he feared being left in a position where he would have no offers at all should company B not make an offer and company A may withdraw offer. I pointed out that he should be in receipt of an offer letter as a minimum from company A but ideally they should be sending over a contract as there is no real offer until you have something in writing. I also pointed out that I doubted company A were threatening to revoke the offer and that it was likely the recruiter was saying this as a bullying tactic to get him to take his role – clearly his commission was at stake.
After a lengthy discussion we agreed that any company offering and withdrawing within 24 hours might not be the company you would want to work for, but giving them the benefit of the doubt we said a positive move forward would be to ask for the offer in writing for consideration (and buying some time for the other interview to take place). When the candidate asked the recruiter for an offer letter/contract the recruiter said it is not normal practice to send out such documentation without acceptance of the role. As the candidate regaled the conversation to me it became clear that recruiter A was getting rather desperate and saying anything to get the candidate to accept the role.
This kind of practice is not on and can really damage the reputation of the company the recruiter is representing, not to mention lose a good candidate for them, the good news is that the 2nd interview at company B was a success and an offer was extended on the spot to the candidate who has accepted and starts next week.
It is important to stay in control in these situations, do not be bullied into taking a role and always ask for an offer letter/contract as you may find yourself with no firm offers in place – you are entitled to take some time to consider an offer and it isn’t unreasonable to take a couple of days, keep your cards close to your chest about other opportunities when being pressured as this can lead to additional pushing from recruiters. Gut instinct should play a good part in decision making, don’t let fear of losing an opportunity make your decisions for you. If you are commanding a good level of interest elsewhere then you won’t be on the shelf long before more offers come your way.
You receive a job offer and want to ensure you are getting the best proposition – here are some tips to assist you in doing just that. Firstly you need to take a look at the role being offered, is it a step in the right direction? Often we look for a new role for a number of reasons such as; the current role no longer offers challenges, you feel you are not being paid your worth, the boss gets under your skin, you want to progress your career, the business is not going in the direction you want to go in, your project portfolio is not interesting you any more etc. So taking a look at the role in greater detail is essential – no point jumping from one disappointing role to another and being trapped for another couple of years so you do not ruin your employment track record. Once you have identified that this is the role for you, you should address the following:
- Salary – is this an improvement and commensurate with the task you are being asked to execute? Although salary is important if you have other reasons for moving on from your current employer, you should take a pragmatic view of what the new employer has to offer. Do not expect to jump up £10k from your current role unless you have been massively underpaid previously and can justify your reasoning for such a big jump in pay. By presenting a business case on why you feel you should be commanding £XX more than the offer you have been made you are more likely to make an employer sit up and listen rather than flatly refusing the offer and demanding more.
- Benefits – an interesting area, pensions, healthcare, season ticket loans, child care vouchers, car / car allowance etc should all be taken into consideration but really; which of these actually interest you and of the ones that do and are offered – are they good enough? If you are currently paying into a good pension scheme and there is an option to transfer into a new scheme – what can the employer really offer you? By listing your current benefits and stating their value you can present these to the HR team with a preference for the parts you are actually interested in and state justification for why these are important to be maintained or improved upon.
- Bonus – how realistic is the bonus scheme, what have they previously paid out to others in similar roles. Are they based on personal /group performance or a combination? Taking a pragmatic approach to this is important – you may find that your bonus handsomely enhances your salary; however a lot of firms are reporting suspension of bonuses due to the global economic situation. Make sure you state your current bonuses and list actual payouts so a reasonable comparison can be made which will benefit your negotiations. When a bonus scheme has not been paying out at your potential employers’ business this can open up further negotiation on salary.
- Holidays – although these come under benefits it is important to make sure you address this benefit as you would your salary. Some organisations cannot present any negotiations on the holiday entitlements offered for a particular grade but it is worth investigating further as a sudden loss of a week’s holiday can impact your life significantly, especially when you have other commitments such as children. Some organisations can offer a compromise such as working from home for some days or flexi time which should be negotiated before you take on a new engagement.
Sometimes the recruitment process can take weeks if not months before an offer is made leaving you frustrated and when the pressure for you to make a decision within a couple of days is presented, it is easy to try and play the employer at their own game – don’t! There are often a good few reasons why it can take so long for decisions to be made and as such you should take an understanding approach to their offer and ask if you can take a little longer to decide. Of course once negotiations are underway the onus is on HR staff to swiftly take action and mediate between the hiring manager and you to reach a compromise – this can take a while.
The lesson to be learnt from negotiating your offer package is to present your reasoning for wanting a change made to the offer – I have seen offers being retracted by employers when candidates come too hard with demands, but presenting your business case in a professional manner often reaps a good result. Do not make do with an offer through fear of losing it – be professional and see how the employer responds.