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A Team Approach to Job Offers

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: When I make a decision to hire someone, I’d like to make the job offer, but HR says they have to do it. Is this a law or just my HR department wanting to control the situation?

A: No, there isn’t a law that says HR has to make the offer. What may have happened in your organization is a manager made a job offer and promised something that couldn’t be delivered—like giving the candidate six weeks of paid vacation when your policy only allows for three weeks. A situation like this could lead to a policy that only HR may extend a job offer.

Although HR’s concerns are valid, I agree that the hiring manager should make the verbal offer, since you have had the most contact with the candidate, you have listened carefully to what’s important to him or her, and this person is going to report to you. But before you make the offer, you and HR should agree on the details—salary, time off, start date, flexible schedule, and any other specifics. Then, make a call to warmly offer the candidate the position.

It’s important that you let the candidate know how much you are looking forward to having him or her on your team—this sets the tone for your future working relationship. Explain that your HR department will send a formal written offer that will confirm the details and that the candidate will need to sign the offer letter and return it within the specified timeframe. Be sure not to agree to any terms or conditions that HR hasn’t approved in advance.

Before you make the offer, you and HR should agree on the details—salary, time off, start date, flexible schedule, and any other specifics.

Let the HR team know immediately after you’ve made the verbal offer, and ask that they confirm the details in writing as soon as possible. As the experts, HR knows the appropriate language to use in any written communication.

This partnership is the way to go to ensure the candidate gets a warm offer from you, his or her prospective boss, while the written offer letter is crafted by your HR team to ensure all legal requirements have been met.

What if your candidate comes back and negotiates for additional vacation time or asks for a higher salary? Work with your HR team to handle those negotiations. HR is well aware of your organization’s salary structure and will help you stay within established guidelines. You don’t want to make critical decisions on salary or benefits that will cause problems with your current good employees.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected]