Hiring Tips: How to Extend and Offer and Enhance Negotiations

Question:

I’m a new legal manager looking to make my first hire. Once I have identified a top candidate to fill a job opening, what’s the best way to extend an offer? Any advice on how I can enhance the negotiation process?

Answer:

Start by making sure you have a thorough understanding of compensation trends in the legal field. To attract and retain employees in any hiring environment, you should try to pay slightly more than what your competitors do, if possible. So, take the time to review salary surveys and government data to ensure you’re at least meeting current standards. Remember, too, that you can balance out a lower starting salary with such incentives as extra vacation time and bonuses after an established period of time on the job.

Once you’ve selected the ideal applicant for the position, it’s important to make your offer as soon as possible. Delaying action just a few days can cause you to lose a qualified candidate to another firm.

Present your offer in person, if possible. This allows you to review the salary and benefits package face to face and clarify any issues upfront. Also, consider sending a follow-up letter outlining the details (you may want to work with one of your firm’s attorneys to develop a template), including any contingencies, such as satisfactory reference checks.

If an applicant is reluctant to accept your offer, try to find out the source of concern. While you want to be flexible, avoid modifying your offer in any way that could compromise your firm’s standard practices. For example, promising an inflated salary could upset your pay scale and disrupt morale if existing staff learn of the special arrangement. Also, be careful not to work too hard to persuade someone to join your organization. In the end, you could end up with an employee who remains dissatisfied on the job or continues looking for other opportunities elsewhere.

Finally, don’t forget to stay in touch with the candidate after the offer is accepted. Keep the lines of communication open by checking in with the individual before his or her start date and sending company literature and forms. You’ll help ensure a successful beginning at your firm.