How To Make A Job Offer That NO ONE Can Turn Down


Congratulations! After having screened dozens or hundreds of resumes and having conducted numerous interviews, you have found the right candidate for your job vacancy. Weeks or months of hard work come to an end. Make sure you get it right at this critical point of time of the hiring process: one false move can result in a refusal and if you screw it up now, you have to start at zero again (unless you have a back-up – and even then, s/he will only be second choice…).

In my experience, 5-10% of job offers made are turned down.

Making it right is a very precise technique. Here are the 9 steps on how to make a job offer that will be accepted:

  1. Move fast: do not waste time if you have taken your decision as time is always your enemy in recruitment. Real talent is rare in any economic cycle. Try to call the candidate on the day of the last interview: this is psychologically a bumpy phase for your candidate who can encounter stress, hope, enthusiasm but also fear of rejection. If your candidate is insecure after the last interview (for whatever reason), this insecurity will turn into rejection overnight.
  2. Call your candidate: This is not the time for emails as you may want to share your enthusiasm and take the temperature. And correct, if needed.
  3. Be enthusiastic: I saw lousily made job offers, the candidates felt offended and turned them down… Tell your candidate that s/he came in number 1 in 100 resumes or so and convinced everyone involved in the process. You are sure the candidate will make career in your company and you are excited to work with him/ her soon.
  4. Apply the 10% rule: it is an unwritten rule that candidates expect minimum a 10% rise when changing job. Few candidates will change for a lower salary or the same. And if they do so, they will feel bad every time they get the pay slip and won’t stay. Whilst there may be reasons to change for the same, never go below their last base salary .
  5. Show the money: There are two ways to talk about the salary: 1) “We offer you 80k base plus bonus and the regular benefits” or 2) “In your first year, you will get a total compensation of 92k gross (make a looooong pause). This breaks down as follows: 80k base plus 10% bonus based on personal and company goals. In the past 3 years the full amount has been paid to people on your level, so we consider 8k. We also have a very good pension scheme which corresponds to 2k per year. Furthermore, we offer the monthly public transport pass which has a value of 1.2k per year. And last but not least, we have a canteen and take 50% in charge. It is only a detail but represents 4.- per day or 1k for the whole year”.
  6. Get a commitment: many candidates will not say yes or no right away. This question hurts but if you don’t get a clear response, you should ask “what do you think about this offer?”. Don’t skip this question for fear of the response or false modesty. Any hesitation your candidate has at this point of time bears a high risk of a rejection. Now is the time to negotiate and you want to go out of this conversation with a clear commitment from your candidate if s/he is rather positive or negative.
  7. Ask the “killer question”: once you have gotten the “Yes”, ask the most powerful question I have learned in this business (thanks, uncle Wayne!). It will give you 99% security that your candidate will really accept your offer: “I have two more potential candidates from the interview process. Can I tell the other guys that the job is taken?” Few people will lie at you.
  8. It ain’t over till it’s over: one third of the candidates who refuse do so because they accept a counter offer from their current employer. Talk about how it feels giving notice: “How do you feel giving notice after 3 years? How will your boss react? What can s/ he do to keep you?” Be sensitive on this one. Resigning can be much stress. Make a summary of the reasons your candidate gave you to leave the current employer and how your offer responds to these reasons.
  9. Send an email: Put everything into an email (or letter) including all elements of the offer such base salary and all variable parts, job title, vacation and all benefits and extras. End with a nice phrase like “We are looking very much forward to working with you, Doris”. Set a deadline until when the candidate should accept (I recommend 3 days. If the candidate needs longer, s/he is usually not convinced).


Be sure you are the one in the driving seat. Go to the end during this critical phase of the recruitment to avoid nasty surprises and to make sure your chosen candidate will turn up on day 1. If you let go now, you risk losing it all and we don’t want that, do we?

PS: If you recruit on senior level and want a real professional to take over the entire process including search, evaluation, job offer and coaching during the integration period (yes, even coaching is part of our offer), give us a call and we will handle all this for you!


Jorg Stegemann
Jorg Stegemann - Headhunter, Certified Coach and Business Writer - is the CEO of Kennedy Executive Search. Apart from running Kennedy's company blog, he writes for Forbes, BBC and other media.
  1. Charbel Reply

    I had to read this article before failing to fill 2 critical vacancies in my new job. I hope it will work better with other interviewees!

  2. Odile Reply

    Thanks to publish this article. Extremely close to the reality.


  3. Avra Reply

    Hi Jorg, Congratulations for the advice ! My experience also tells me that no candidate could resist your winning strategy. Hope we have the opportunity to exchange more.

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Hahaha! Hope so. Thanks, Avra

  4. Aleksandar Reply

    Great! It looks like a good strategy…and honest one…

  5. Vickie Reply

    Love “Uncle Wayne’s advice!

  6. Uncle Wayne Reply

    Hi Vickie,

    Thanks for the compliment. You will find that candidates and clients alike WILL ANSWER THE QUESTION(S) that you ask them. You just can’t be afraid to ask! The beauty of asking the question is that you will get an answer. Then you will know what you’re really dealing with and you can address THAT!

    Uncle Wayne

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks, Wayne. You are my guru! But you know that, of course…

  7. Don Reply

    Great article, Jorg! I think I’ll make copies and start leaving them with the companies at which I interview…just to make sure they understand the process well.

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Please do – and name me as the source…

  8. Yusuf Reply

    Hi Jorg, a valuable article and it shows a road map for business people. Your conclusion is clear and excellent. Thank you.

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