Test Your Offer BEFORE You Make It!

Never make a formal offer until every aspect of that offer has been tested and agreed on beforehand. Easy to remember, but hard to fix if you forget. Once you’ve formally extended an offer, you’ve seriously limited your options. The applicant becomes the buyer, the company the seller. Open communication stops dead. Candidates stop thinking about why they want the job and start worrying about why they DON’T want it.

An offer extended while there’s still doubt often gets an “I have to think about it” response. Thinking about an offer is fine – but once you’ve extended it your own flexibility is weakened. It’s much better to have an applicant think about all aspects of an offer BEFORE you formally put it together.


Here’s another important point: Before you extend a formal offer, you get unbiased information. After, that same attempt to determine a candidate’s interest can come across as harassment, pushiness or over-selling. Contentious salary negotiations become awkward and stressful, because neither party wants to lose face. Deals often fall apart at this point for relatively unimportant reasons.

Start by testing a candidate’s general interest in the position. Ask, “Assuming an attractive offer, do the job and the challenge appeal to you?” This question lets you draw a line between the job and the offer, and gives both parties the chance to address concerns about the job itself. You’ll eliminate a lot of bad fits this way!

Then you can ask, “What would you think if we could put together a package in the range of £_____ to £_____?” You’ll need to go back and forth with the candidate to test the range, but this gets both parties talking in an open manner.

Don’t let the candidate forget about the competition – real or imaginary. Say something like, “Although we’re still seeing other candidates, I believe you’d make a great addition to our team. What do you think about something like £_____?” The threat of competition allows you to be a bit stronger during the negotiating phase, and tends to make the candidate more realistic.

A candidate’s hesitation on any item at this stage means there are probably other issues to be considered. Continue probing. Many objections have to do with lack of information: don’t move forward until you have addressed these concerns to everyone’s satisfaction. Now is the time to make trade-offs and be creative. If you can’t meet a particular need, offer an alternative – a signing bonus instead of a too-high salary, for example. Find out now if this could turn out to be a deal-breaker.

Work on all these points until you come to an agreement – or at least an understanding. You’ll both discover that this give-and-take process is much easier WITHOUT a formal offer on the table. And when all the objections have been addressed in a mutually satisfactory fashion, THEN you’re ready to get to the final offer.


Trevor Lee




A Precise C-suite Recruitment Process for the 21st Century.


Our mission is to deliver a high-calibre short-list against a client mandate in days (rather than weeks) adapting and improving upon interim provider skills and applying them to BOTH interim and permanent C-suite appointments in a global context.

All for a single, and universally flat, fee 100% contingent on success. 1000 + successful appointments across 70 countries indicates a winning combination of global reach allied to local knowledge.

How: Once mandated a database of candidates is just the start-point. In common with most executive search firms although some of them consider prior short-lists and LinkedIn to be sufficient for this purpose.

Our database – a unique e-platform underpinned by advanced data management metrics – is based on rigorous up-front selection and to successfully complete the process, candidates must match the following profile:

  • Be looking for their next interim management assignment or a permanent executive position

  • Have a proven track record of more than 10 to 15 years as a successful international executive and/or as a serial entrepreneur.

  • Have a reputation for excellence in leadership, enabling them quickly to gain respect and credibility within a team

  • Understand the venture community and have built fast growing organizations

  • Fluency in English (in addition to their mother tongue, if applicable)

  • Have the ability to analyse and model businesses in a very restricted time frame in their area of expertise

All of which are validated prior to consideration for short-listing against a client requirement. Of over 100,000 applying from 180 countries since 2002 just over 16,000 have reached the certified – iCEO – standard.

The identification phase can well end there due to this massive up-front, and on-going, investment in a constantly updated database. However sometimes other activity needs to supplement this activity and for this we use the full range of UC* technology available.

Also in common with others there follows an extensive process to arrive at a final short-list. With global reach (candidates resident in 180 countries) and having local knowledge (in country Client Partners) this will always involve on-line and face to face interchanges between all parties.

In the case of CEO Worldwide the efficiencies of the digitally driven business model deliver cost and productivity savings which are passed down to the ultimate client in the form of flat fees and a much reduced ‘time-to-fulfilment’. This level of transparency and speed of execution is undoubtedly welcomed by all in the C-Suite.

Then, and this I’ve found to be another area of concern in the boardroom – experience and expertise.

CEO Worldwide Client Partners are operationally experienced people understanding the unique international issues and opportunities faced by the client. They in most instances have been managing international expansion, M&A, turn-around, fund raising etc.. In short they are not regular search consultants who, again in general, lack experience in international C-level roles.

* Unified Communication

Trevor Lee




We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.