Things You Should Know Before You Make a Job Offer

You have found your ideal candidate and are keen to make a job offer before another employer snaps them up.  You want to speak to them right away and offer them the job without delay.  You don’t want to wait for a formal offer to go out.

If you have read earlier articles by me, you will know that I advocate making a decision quickly and not keeping candidates hanging on after interview, waiting for a response from you.

Before you make a job offer …

But here is a word of warning if you intend to make a verbal offer either face to face or by phone call.  By all means speak to the person and make the offer but confirm that it is a CONDITIONAL offer at this stage, until such time as you have taken up references, done medical checks, etc.   Confirm that you will send out a written unconditional offer once all checks have been completed.  You can make a written offer at this stage, but that should also be conditional.  

The reason for this is to protect both parties to the contract.  The pre-employment checks, references, health checks, etc could potentially raise a problem which you want to address before confirming an offer.  Worst case, you might want to withdraw the offer – either because of the outcome of the checks or for some other reason.  If the offer was a conditional offer, then it can be withdrawn without too much difficulty.   If your offer is unconditional, then as soon as it has been accepted there is a contract between you and the candidate and if you withdraw the offer it is potentially a breach of that contract.

What if the candidate changes their mind?

Sadly, this is not uncommon.  Often someone will have had a better offer from another employer, or will have decided not to move from their current employer. In some cases, they  may just disappear and you will never hear from them again.

You might think that if someone has disappeared after accepting your offer, then you can sue them for breach of contract.  This is true, but would you really want to do so?  It would do untold damage to your reputation and would make recruitment even more difficult as a result.

A better way to protect yourself against this problem is to become an employer of choice.  If people really want to work for you, they are less likely to disappear after accepting a job offer.  In the worst case that they do disappear, then it will be easier to find a replacement.

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Fishing In A Stagnant Pool? Or Recruiting Across the Sector/Industry Divide?

In my own working life, I have lost count of the number of times I have been told by recruiters that I am not being put forward for a role because I don’t have the right industry or sector experience and would need to cross the sector/industry divide.

I have also changed industry and sector successfully several times and have had great feedback.  I have even been congratulated on being able to quickly pick up work in one sector when my recent experience has been in a different  sector. My answer is – and always has been –  that I am trained and experienced as an HR professional and those skills are applicable in any industry or sector, or even country. 

“But I need people who know the ropes”

There may be a need to learn different processes and procedures (or even legalities) but I have never found that to be a difficulty. There is always something to learn in any new job (and actually in any current job as well). If your candidate is unwilling or unable  to learn, then that may be a barrier to employing them.  But their current industry and sector experience is not such a barrier.

Employers are reluctant to take on staff who have not worked in the right sector or industry.  Public sector employees can’t get private sector jobs; non-academic staff can’t move into the academic sector; retail sector only want people who have retail experience; etc. 

I raised this issue last year in a previous article but it bears repeating.

Barriers to recruiting across the divide

It appears that  one of the most common obstacles to recruiting across the sector/industry divide is knowledge of legal processes and obligations, together with  a lack of contacts in the industry.  These things can be learnt.  There will always be a learning curve of some kind for a new employee, even within an industry or sector.  The sector or industry-specific technicalities are more easily taught than things like aptitude and attitude.

The HR department is meant to be a partner to business, not a barrier

Sadly, it appears that the most common reason given for not recruiting outside sector or industry is “internal HR processes”.  I find this difficult to accept as any “HR processes” have been put in place to serve the business or organisation and are easily changed if they are no longer a fit with the changing world.  The point of HR is to partner and facilitate business, not to put up barriers or be a regulating force.  

So if your HR processes are blocking your ability to recruit across all industries and sectors, then I would suggest you need to change your HR processes.

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The Wrong Recruitment Decision – Putting Square Pegs In Round Holes

It is easy to make the wrong recruitment decision.

In a recent article I asked if your recruitment advertisement described your vacant role properly and if you even know what the job actually consists of.

It is worth exploring this a little further, as many employers fall into the trap of looking for skills that aren’t really needed to get the job done. A CIPD report last year found that almost half of the UK workforce are in jobs they are either under- or over-skilled for.   37% of workers have skills to cope with more demanding duties than they currently have.  Specifically, many university graduates are in jobs which do not require degree level qualifications. 

Someone with a degree is well qualified

There is a tendency to believe that having a degree means someone is well-qualified, but they may not be qualified in the right skills for your vacancy and their university life may not have prepared them well for the workplace.  Using degrees as a way of filtering job applications is not helpful to either you or the applicants. 

If someone has a degree but is otherwise unskilled for the role they are given, then you are setting them up to fail unless you provide them with training to fill that knowledge gap.

The dangers of the wrong recruitment decision

When someone is under-skilled for a role, they will not do a very good job and then you will start to question whether you made the right decision to employ them in the first place.  They are certainly unlikely to get promoted if they are failing at their current role, and they will find it difficult to get another job if they are not doing well at the one they are in. 

If you have put a graduate in a role for which they don’t have the right skills,  it follows that they  will not be able to command the kind of salary they might have expected.  So they will eventually become resentful. Their motivation and productivity will be low and that will mean their job satisfaction is also affected adversely. 

Additionally, they will take time off sick or start to disrupt others in the workplace.  Before you know it, they will have become one of those “difficult employees” which every employer dreads.

What about their employer?

From the employer’s perspective, you have spent time and money in the recruitment process and may wonder why it has not produced a better candidate.  You need to be honest and consider whether that is because you did not have the right expectations and filtering process. 

You will need to spend more time and money to put the situation right.  It will mean either an investment in training the current incumbent so they can actually do the job correctly, or you will need to move them to something else and go through the recruitment process again.  A little more thought at the job description stage of the recruitment process could well have prevented this problem.

The other end of the scale

At the other end of the scale, one in 10 people surveyed believed they were under-skilled for the role they were in, but a quarter of the respondents said they had not received any training in the last year.

If you ensure your employees have the right skills for their jobs, either through recruitment or training (or both), then they will be happier in the workplace and you will benefit from higher productivity and increased profitability.

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