How To Screw Up A Perfectly Good Job Offer

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

The IT job market can best be described as “odd” right now. The market for candidates is extremely tight with lots of opportunities for job seekers in most technical areas. On the flip side, companies seem to be moving more slowly than ever in making their hiring decisions and we’re barely into the holiday season.

Here are some of my best (or worst) ways to screw things up at the offer stage of the process. As always, these are based on real-life observations.

1. Company: Waiting around to make an offer. If you like a candidate, move quickly. Good candidates have a lot of opportunity right now. Trust me.

2. Company: Waiting around AGAIN, after the offer has been accepted to schedule a start date. All this does is make the candidate nervous that the job isn’t going to be there. It’s very easy for another company to swoop in and make your candidate a competing offer with an immediate start date, and you have to start your entire hiring process over. I’ve heard various reasons for this: Procuring a work station, orientation classes only offered on certain days, won’t have the person’s project ready, etc. Seriously, isn’t there something you could have this person do in the meantime? Maybe they could review code and familiarize themselves with the applications. Maybe there are some training webinars they could attend. Be creative! Isn’t that what you expect from your employees?

3. Candidate: Asking for things that aren’t deal breakers. Introducing doubt into the process will only give the company pause in pulling the trigger. For example, if a company-subsidized mass-transit pass won’t decide the job for you, don’t ask for it. Consider it a nice perk if the company offers it once you start.

Image Credit: Raffles Medical Group

Image Credit: Raffles Medical Group

4. Company: Lowballing the candidate on salary, especially over a small amount of money. For example, why would you offer someone $2,000 less than they asked for? That’s $166/month to the company. That means A LOT more to an individual than it does a company. Even if the candidate accepts the job, it starts them off with a bad taste in their mouth. Why not offer them $500 MORE than they asked? That’s only $41/month more to the company, but is going to make the candidate feel like you really want them on board. I do understand there are caveats here – if the salary band is too low, or if you simply can’t afford the salary by $10,000 or something. But is $2,000 really make or break?

5. Candidate: Getting greedy. Don’t provide a salary range, then ask for more money after you get an offer. Just as in #3 above, even if the company gives in, you really don’t want to start off with the company already thinking you are less than professional.

6. HR / Company: Please push to get rid of ridiculous policies like limiting the salary you will offer a candidate based on their last salary. You’re seriously telling me you wouldn’t offer a market salary to a perfect candidate, THE SAME SALARY YOU ARE PAYING SOMEONE ELSE IN THE SAME JOB, just because they were underpaid at their last company? How does that make any sense? You’re just going to lose this person to another company who doesn’t have ludicrous policies. The market determines salaries for specific skills, not a specific company.

7. Candidate: Being less than forthright. Please disclose things that will show up on your background report at the beginning of the process, if there is a background check to be performed. It’s going to show up. You won’t get the job if you don’t disclose it. Sometimes, and yes I’ve seen it, you WILL get the job if you’re honest up front.

8. Candidate: Accepting a counter offer. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know not to accept a counter offer? I guess there have been examples of it working out, but I haven’t seen them. Usually it’s about money. And if it takes you threatening to quit to get a raise, is that really a place you want to work? Any other reasons you were leaving your last job rear their ugly head again, no matter how much money they offer you to stay. And now the company knows you were willing to quit. Whose head will be on the chopping block first come layoff time?

I could probably go on and on with more specific examples of how I have seen job offers swirl down the toilet, but these are the most oft-repeated mistakes that I see.

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