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🤝 Making an offer to software developers

Congratulations: The interview process went well, the reference checks are positive, and it’s time to extend a formal offer of employment!

In tech hiring, you should always assume that you’re competing for the attention of any given candidate with a host of other companies who are just as determined as you are to hire the best people. This means that it should be your goal throughout this whole process to set yourself up to make a decision as quickly as possible.

“Congratulations, we like you and want you to join our team” can be an awesome thing to hear after going through an interview process, but can also bring up an interesting variety of follow-up questions. If you haven’t prepared, they can throw a rather large spanner in the works.

Remember that at the end of the day, you’re asking somebody to commit a large portion of their waking hours to your company and your mission for the foreseeable future.

You should be prepared to make sure that the person has access to as much information as possible so that they can make the best decision.

Pro tip

What to avoid when making an offer

From time to time we’ll see companies sending out thinly-veiled non-offers that typically adopt the format of “If we were to make you an offer, would you accept?”. A message like this can be confusing to receive, especially if you’ve already got an offer on the table from another company and can come off as extremely non-committal.

While it’s understandable in the context of trying to avoid rejection, a general rule should be: If you’re in a position to make a hypothetical offer to somebody, you should also be in a position to make an actual one.

The pre-offer call

Telling somebody that you want them on your team is a big deal. Both parties have put in a lot of effort at this stage, so it makes sense to celebrate a bit — treat it like a victory lap. Like a lot of other important life events, this is news that deserves more than an email. Pick up the phone!

While delivering the good news, you’ll have a great opportunity to run them through the details of the offer and pre-empt any common questions: how many leave days are included, what kind of deductions can they expect on their payslip, potential start dates, etc.

It’s really important to give the person a chance to ask any questions and to be very clear about when you’re expecting to receive a response.

An offer email

If, for whatever reason, you’re absolutely not able to contact somebody over the phone to tell them about an offer, you’ll need to adapt your strategy accordingly.

Be as explicit in the email as possible about all of the information included in the offer and make sure that the person you’re making the offer to knows that you’d be more than happy to contact them to talk through the details.

A good offer will cover the following

  • A warm welcome to the team
  • The role title and job description
  • Who they will be reporting to
  • Start date
  • Salary
  • Benefits breakdown/explanation
  • Leave days
  • Any other elements that make up your remuneration
  • Company mission
  • What your companies values are
  • Your team structure and reporting lines
  • Any important policies (eg: your remote policy or working hours, etc.)
  • The legal aspects. Include the most important conditions of employment in the offer - you can reserve all the legal details for the full contract.

Lines of communication need to be wide open at this stage of the process. If you’ve had to fall back on email for an offer, be sure to keep trying the phone until you get hold of them.

Signing an offer remotely

It is a good idea to see what e-signing tools integrate with your Applicant Tracking System, if you’re making use of one, so that you can create and send your offers in one place.

Some good e-signing tools to use include DocuSign and HelloSign — there are many similar services available.

Whatever you use, make sure the offer is signed and dated by both parties!

Sending a contract

We’ve already established that if you want to hire somebody, you should be trying your best to make this intention known to them as soon as possible. Because contracts can take some time to be drafted, an offer letter can sometimes be used to signal this intention quickly. However, if you can send somebody an actual employment contract in the same space of time as an offer, then it makes sense to do this.

The motivation behind this is mostly psychological; a contract can be seen as a bigger sign of commitment from a company than an offer letter.

Pro tip

If you know that you’re not going to be able to provide a contract super quickly, be upfront and say this, rather than creating expectations for something that you can’t deliver.

Read more about negotiating a great offer here.

After signing the offer

Once the offer has been signed, don’t hang up your hiring hat just yet. There are still important steps to ensure the candidates arrives excited for their first day.

Don’t go silent

If you suddenly stop communicating between signing the offer and the candidate’s first day, you’re making an enormous mistake. In reality, your onboarding process should start the second that the contract is signed.

According to our data, one third of candidates who drop out before starting their new jobs, cite a lack of communication or miscommunication as a major contributing factor.

You just spent an enormous chunk of time assessing this person and convincing them to join your team, don’t leave the door open to counter offers and cold feet by leaving them out of the loop now.

Your mindset at this stage of the process should be focussed on how you can keep somebody engaged in the time between them signing the employment contract and walking through the door on their first day.

The best way to do this is by maintaining open and proactive lines of communication.

Don't inundate them with work

We’ve seen companies assign paid work to a new hire as soon as they begin employment. As smart as it is to dial up the engagement to 11 in the time before somebody starts at your company, you still want to be mindful of the fact that they’re potentially still legally employed somewhere else.

If you’re primarily concerned about staying top of mind, there are other ways to accomplish that without potentially doubling somebody’s workload.

What to do before your new team member starts their job

There are a few ways to keep up the excitement for a new joiner. This includes:

  • Sending a welcome email and letting the wider team know
  • Giving the new joiner access to accounts where possible
  • Inviting the new joiner to any team events that might be happening

Welcome email

The simplest tactic here could be an email the day of or soon after they accept your offer or sign the contract.

Ideally, this email should come from somebody on the team that they’re going to be joining and should outline how stoked everyone is to have them on the team, as well as details like start date confirmation, what to bring with on their first day and what the best ways are to prepare so that they can hit the ground running.

Remember to also announce to your team and wider company that you have a new joiner, to help the candidate feel welcome from the get-go once they start.

Access to accounts

Once somebody has signed an employment contract, many companies will begin treating their new hires like fully fledged employees. Why not get them set up with their laptop and make sure they have access to all of the accounts that they’re going to be using on a daily basis.

If you’re worried about giving somebody who isn’t settled in the building access to your entire code base, remember that it’s not an all or nothing decision. Give as much access as you’re comfortable with as early on as possible and take things from there.

If you use Slack and you haven’t already invited them as part of your interview/assessment process, now is a great time to get them set up. One fun side effect of this is that every time they get a Slack notification from you, you’re going to be top of mind.

Invitations to team events

Invite your new joiner to any team events that might be happening before their official start date. This is a great opportunity to bond with the team ahead of time, in a more informal setting.

This can be done in-person or remotely. Check out some great remote team event ideas here: