Crisis? Corona? Where? The job market is overheated. Companies have trouble finding talent anywhere in the world: this is what we see in the Kennedy Executive Search network that spans 4 continents with it’s 25 offices.

Candidates have the choice. We here at Apollo in Paris hear every week “I am headhunted almost every day”.

How will you make the difference? How will you convince the talent you want to accept YOUR offer and not the one your competitor made?

First: make the right offer. If your salary, benefits, home office policy etc is not in the market, forget it. Do not believe that you as an employer have the choice. Employers are lining up.

Second, make the offer right. Make sure you don’t blow it at this critical point of time in the hiring process: one false move can result in a refusal and if you screw it up now, you have to start from zero again (or have to hire the back-up. Who will only be the back-up).

In my experience, 5-10% of job offers made are turned down (at least this is what happened to my colleagues when I was still corporate. My own ratio was always lower…).

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. Always. 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. Do NOT “let him/ her digest and if s/he is really committed, s/he will wait for us”. This is bullshit
  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 out of all his/ her competitors 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 10-15% rule: It is an unwritten rule that candidates expect minimum a 10-15% 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. A few thousands bucks make no difference for you. But they do for the candidate. We at Apollo refuse to make offers below and tell our clients and also the candidates that they must not do it
  5. Show the money: There are two ways to talk about the salary: 1) “We offer you 100k base plus bonus and the regular benefits” or 2) “In your first year, you will get a total compensation of 120k gross (make a looooong pause). This breaks down as follows: 100k base plus 20% 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 20k. And we guarantee it for the first year. The car you will get is worth 5k. We also have a very good pension scheme which corresponds to 2k per year. In addition to that, etc etc”. Break it all down. But: go from the big number to the small one not the other way round
  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. 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 and at the same time, they commit
  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. Emotion. 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 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 5 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 surprises. If you let go now, you risk losing it all and we don’t want that, do we?