Make an Offer and Make It Quick: Temporary Changes in Best Practices

While the demand for hiring materials here at CEDR is skyrocketing, frustrated members are reaching out to our Solution Center. As businesses come roaring back, employers are experiencing a new twist when attempting to hire. They begin by describing an interview with the perfect candidate that ends in losing that potential hire to another practice at the last minute. In some cases, top candidates are all but disappearing– coming to an interview and then never answering another phone call or email again. It seems ghosting within the context of hiring is a thing now.

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Fire fast, hire slow.” Chances are, you’ve heard that exact advice coming from CEDR in the past. Consider this a mea culpa. In today’s fast-paced job market, we’ve been rethinking that old wisdom and adopting new mantras. Right now, we’re telling the members who call in to our Solution Center to speed up hiring as much as they can, specifically, to leave as little time as possible between the interview and the offer.  

This is, for those in the medical and wellness industries, a job seeker’s market… for now. Rather than, the old adage “Fire fast, hire slow,” as soon as you spot the candidate you want, adopt the new adage, “Make an offer and make it quick!” This does not mean you can’t or shouldn’t get ahead of the hiring curve when it comes to your interviewing technique. You still need to go through the process in CEDR’s Hiring Guide and get your proverbial ducks in a row before the interview, but, as of right now,  the time between the interview and when you select a candidate has a new sense of urgency. Here are some things you can do to keep the most qualified candidate from slipping away and keep your practice legally compliant when making an offer.

Get organized first

There are lots of things you can do to speed up the hiring process. Before you begin hiring, it’s important to make sure your candidate pool is focused, small, and as well-suited for the position as possible. Equally important, it’s a good idea to have the details of the position worked out before you start running job ads and talking to candidates. As much as you’re able, decide on exactly what you want and what the position will entail before the actual job search.

The more you know about the specifics of the position, the duties performed, the qualities needed, the schedule, benefits, and salary, the better chance you have of finding the perfect candidate. More importantly, if you spend as little time as possible working out the details of the offer letter, your top candidate’s inbox won’t be filling up with other offers while you’re still drafting the hiring package.

As soon as you know, reach out

As soon as you’ve determined which candidate is the best addition to your team, give them a phone call. Though it is still best practice to call the candidate rather than text or email, some people, particularly young folks, aren’t in the habit of picking up the phone so don’t be surprised or discouraged if you get sent to voicemail. If so, say something like, “I have great news! I want to talk to you about joining our team. Can you call me back soon?” 

Although it’s understandable to be reserved during the interview process, don’t downplay your interest once you’ve decided who the best candidate is and you’ve got them on the phone. If your candidate is weighing two similar job offers, they might be more likely to lean towards the practice where they feel they will be valued and appreciated. So, don’t hide your enthusiasm about bringing them on board. Let them know what impressed you and why you think they’ll be a great addition to your company culture.

During the actual phone conversation, be sure to:

  1. Tell them why you chose them
  2. Ask them if they want the job
  3. Give a brief overview of the position’s salary and benefits
  4. Tell them to look for an offer letter with more details in their inbox
  5. Establish a timeline for the candidate’s decision

When it comes to making a salary offer in 2021, now is not the time to lowball! Remember that most job seekers expect to make 10% more when they change jobs, so offer accordingly. Right now, with healthcare-related industries growing 15%  across all specialties, your job seekers are bound to have offers to consider. In the current climate, put your best foot forward and offer a competitive wage right out of the gate. We know that keeping your cost of labor under control is not something you can just ignore. We also know that once you raise the pay for incoming employees, it also affects the pay of everyone else. However, teams are stretched thin and as businesses come back and the need for your services ramps up, employers can’t keep asking our existing employees to do more with less. Most practices we speak with need people and help now!

One more very important point–paying people more, offering signing bonuses, or any number of added perks does not make them more qualified or a good fit. So, this demand for more money is a double-edged sword. The old adage includes “fire fast” and that still applies. Once a new hire joins your team, if they are not a fit, get them out as fast as possible.

If the candidate asks how long they have to think about the offer, the general industry rule is to allow the candidate a week to decide. If you’re in a hurry, three days is tight but reasonable. Should the candidate ask for more than three days, let them know that you can meet them in the middle at four days. While extenuating circumstances certainly exist, if the candidate wants more than a week, they might not be too committed and, perhaps, you should consider your second choice.

Hiring package language

If you get organized before your job search, your hiring materials should be very close to finished by the time you’ve made a decision. Send the offer letter quickly after the phone call so that the candidate can begin considering your offer immediately. The offer letter should outline the basic terms of at-will employment and should include their pay, position title, and a summary of the benefits your practice offers. 

When it comes to the offer letter, there are some linguistic matters to consider if you want to protect your practice legally. 

Three areas of the offer letter where language is very important are:

  • At-will employment
  • Contingency issues 
  • “Probation” language

The default employment status when you hire someone is at-will, and you don’t want to alter that status through any phrasing in your offer letter. In Montana, employees are only at-will for their first 12 months, after which employers need just cause for termination. However, everywhere else, employees are at-will for the entirety of their employment unless you change that status. 

Because of this, you need to include an at-will disclaimer to help protect you against any potential claims of implied continuous or extended employment. Without that disclaimer, your offer letter could work against you in the future. In Montana, you want to be clear about the first 12 months being an at-will getting acquainted period. To protect your at-will status, read over the final letter searching for any language that could imply the new employee will have a job with your business for any given amount of time. 

You should also indicate that your terms of employment are contingent upon certain criteria. Specifically, a reference and background check as well as any drug screenings your practice requires. Most importantly, the letter needs to include language that indicates employment is contingent upon them signing an acknowledgment of the employee handbook and their ability to perform the essential functions of the job. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to have new employees sign their job descriptions. If the new, possibly highly paid, hire is severely underperforming, those are grounds for ending the professional relationship and making room for a more competent hire. 

Lastly, avoid “probation” language altogether. Though it’s common practice, it’s a risky one, legally. “Probation” is a legal term of art that could be used in court to imply a promise of employment during that period, thus potentially severing your business’ “at-will” status. 

If combing through legal language sounds a little daunting, CEDR membership includes one-on-one guidance from HR experts through our Solution Center. Our HR experts walk owners and managers through offer letters and other employment documents on a fairly regular basis. Whatever you decide, while it’s important to get the offer letter and benefits package to the potential hire as quickly as possible, make sure you carve out a little time to study the documents and remove any legally problematic language.

If a candidate “ghosts” you, consider this!

A big concern for employers right now is being “ghosted,” or, after an interview, the candidate stops responding to phone calls, emails, or texts. Ghosting is becoming a more common practice among candidates. As a matter of fact, 76% of hiring employers report that they’ve been ghosted this past year

There are lots of reasons candidates ghost employers. Sometimes candidates ghost because the employer takes too long to get back to them. Just like employers are likely to move on to another candidate if they suspect the potential hire isn’t serious, candidates are likely to move on to another employer for the same reason. 

Sometimes, they’ve already been contacted by another practice or business– yet another reason to make an offer without delay! Sometimes candidates ghost because they feel the offer is too far off from other offers. A reminder that, once again, now is a really bad time to not be aware of what your market is offering top candidates in regards to pay and benefits.

Most of the time, though, if you make a fair offer quickly, you probably won’t be ghosted. Presuming that you make a reasonable offer quickly, conduct the hiring process as professionally as possible, and the candidate still ghosts you, you might consider whether that is, in fact, a blessing in disguise and move on to your second choice. 

If a candidate doesn’t respond to the offer within the agreed-upon timeline, make one more call.  This time, say something like, “I hadn’t gotten a response to our offer from you. I was just wondering if I should let the other candidates know the position is filled or not. Can you call me by the end of the day?” If you don’t hear anything, bullet dodged and good riddance. 

Conclusion

Hiring advice and best practices are changing rapidly along with the behavior of job seekers. There are some things you can do in the world of today’s fast-paced hiring to make it less likely you’ll lose the perfect hire to a rival practice. There is something else to remember. Eventually, this need to urgently hire shall pass. As we go into the latter half of 2021, the market for employees is going to start to return to a new normal. Meanwhile, your best offense is to pick your best choice and hire them!

Click to download cedars Free Hiring Guide

Jul 19, 2021

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.
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