Once you’ve found the right employee, the one who fits all your criteria, gets along with the staff, and is a big team player, how to you offer him or her the job? The way you make your offer can set the tone for the working relationship and may even determine whether or not your candidate even accepts. Making your offer the smart way will help you land that employee for your team and make sure he or she is happy in your company.

Choose Carefully
Strong candidates should have more than just theskills on paper that you need. They should also have a personality that will fit well into the workplace environment and culture. An excitement about the work and the position will usually result in higher productivity and fewer mistakes than over qualification and apathy will.

Start Personally
A personal offer, either over the phone or in person after the final interview, shows far more care and consideration than an email. This simple step will make your potential employee feel more valued and increase your odds of getting that acceptance. Tell them what qualities made you think they were a good fit for the organization and indicate that you respect them professionally without coming across as desperate.

Follow Up In Writing
The best way to make sure everyone understands the agreement is to put it in writing. Having a good employee contract does more than just establish your non-compete clause. It should also give your employees a good understanding of what will be expected of them on the job. This step will also make entrepreneurs who are just starting out appear more professional and desirable as an employer.

It’s also a good idea to get details about benefits in writing, such as when they start, what they cover, and what the options are. Benefits are often very important to your employees, and you need to be clear from the beginning about what they should expect. This includes health insurance, life insurance, pension plans, 401K accounts, sick days, vacation days, and any other benefits your company may offer.

The Salary Offer
This is probably the most important part of the offer. It determines how much your company needs to pay and how much you think the candidate is worth. Unless you salary is completely fixed, it’s important to make a first offer that is lower than you are willing to go, but high enough so as not to be insulting. Most companies will have a lower salary that they hope to offer and a higher salary that they are willing to go to for the right person. Likewise, most employees have a high salary that they would love to receive and a lower salary that they are willing to accept. The trick is finding a happy medium. As a rule, never offer a lower salary than the candidate received at his or her last job. This is both somewhat insulting and unlikely to be accepted. Try to start near your lower range and work your way up in negotiations.

Negotiating The Salary
Unless you have specified that it is a firm offer, your candidate is likely to negotiate his or her salary before starting. It is important to remain respectful during this exchange while still meeting the best needs of your company. Being willing to give a little will make your future employees feel like they are getting something out of the exchange and more willing to agree. Be sure to point out any benefits or bonus structures to strengthen your bargaining position.

Make sure you are offering a fair market price for the job type before you make an offer. Even if your candidate accepts, he or she will eventually find outif you are underpaying your employees for the type of work they do. At the same time, try not to overpay, especially if your other employees are making a lower amount. While most workplaces discourage or even forbid talking about salary, it is almost inevitable that the truth will come out, even if only by implication. Giving a newcomer a higher salary than your senior employees undercuts their position, makes them feel under valued, and may make your newest employee feel like he or she had free reign and no need to learn from those more experienced.

The final offer should ideally be at least a bit higher than the lowest your candidate was willing to go. If you have a fixed raise schedule, be sure to describe it with the offer. Something at least a little higher than the minimum will make the candidate feel respected and appreciated, a feeling that may lead to more enthusiasm and more effort in the workplace.

The Waiting Game
Your candidate may ask for some time to think about the offer. This is a reasonable request and may indicate a thoughtfulness in the face of important decisions rather than a reluctance to start. Anywhere from 24 hours to a few days is reasonable to offer any candidates. If you must know by a certain date, tell them so. If you have not heard with a few days, you may want to do a follow up phone call. A slow answer may indicate your candidate has other offers to consider or an uncertainty about your company. Following up can help you get the candidate you want and discover a candidate who just isn’t excited about the position.

The dance between company and candidate is a delicate one. Both sides must maneuver correctly to ensure that their needs are respected and met. It is your company’s responsibility to ensure that any candidate is well informed about the position, the benefits, and the salary before any decision is made. While being misleading, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may get a candidate to say yes, it will also breed discontentment down the road and may lead to problems. Conduct your job offer with respect and clarity to get the best results for everyone.