How to Win Your Dream Candidate — Even with a Lower Offer 

An HR Director at a desk hiring a candidate with a lower job offer

You found them: the perfect rock star candidate.
You write them an offer letter, hit Send, and cross your fingers that they’ll accept.
Just like that, they respond! And they say
…they’ve received another offer.

But wait! They also say that they would still love to join your team — if you can just match their other offer. But what they don’t know is: You’ve reached your maximum budget.  

Don’t worry, the candidate is not lost. You can still win them over even if you can’t match that other company’s offer.   



Pay isn’t everything. When candidates are evaluating multiple offers, they’re considering a lot more than which company will pay more. That’s great news for companies on a budget. 

You can win over candidates with a lower offer by honing in on what candidates truly value: security, growth opportunities, strong benefits, supportive team and leadership, and autonomy. Companies with great cultures draw in high-demand candidates naturally, even without big-digit salaries. They can do this by prioritizing their employees, clearly defining their brand, emphasizing transparency, and highlighting their entire compensation package — not just base pay. 

Once candidates have a clear understanding of the value of working for — and with — your company, they can make a truly informed decision, instead of focusing solely on numbers. So, tell them your full story.



According to Fortune,  the second biggest reason employees leave a job is lack of growth opportunities (#1 being low pay). You’ll want to emphasize how much you prioritize career growth to both win new employees and retain current ones. Create transparent opportunities for growth within your organization to ensure employees can continue to develop new skills and grow into leadership positions. Employees need, and love, clearly laid-out paths for career advancement. 

The hiring process is your opportunity to communicate that you want to see every new employee succeed and grow in their role. It’s also a chance to ensure each candidate’s career goals are aligned with your organization’s strategic goals. 

Lastly, employees generally feel more engaged in their roles when their employers engage in them. Demonstrate to your candidates that your organization will provide all the resources they need to help them reach their goals, including regular progress checks.


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Throughout the interview process, show your candidate that your employees are your top priority. Proving to your candidate that your company focuses on employee happiness, health, growth opportunities, and work-life integration — and supports the local community — will give your company an edge-up on any other potential offers. 

Company stories and great company culture shine brightest here. Talk about family leave, share stories of team-building events (like your annual bowling competition!) and point out any other ways you take care of employees when they need it the most. 

Share clear details on your employee benefits, too. These less-obvious perks are as important to potential employees and their decisions as salary details, so share them early to acknowledge their value. Make it clear that you’re also available to answer specific questions to make sure candidates understand exactly what’s included in your compensation packages

During our 2022 HR Summit: Thriving in HR, one HR leader shared how their company went beyond employee expectations. The company supported an employee’s daughter by buying 2000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and then gave the cookies away to employees throughout the company. These types of stories will help your company stand out and make an impact – so don’t be afraid to share them!


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It’s important to ensure your company’s brand comes across clearly, concisely, and strongly to candidates who are new to the work you do and how you do it. Partner with your marketing team to ensure your job descriptions, About Us page, and even your internal careers page, are written in the correct tone with accurate information.

Be sure to highlight your employee value proposition (EVP) as well. If you don’t have an EVP, create one! Then, make sure it’s visible on your company website, every job description, and in the employee handbook. Also, be sure to monitor your social media and website to establish a consistent brand voice across channels.


You might also like: 3 Ways to Boost your Employer Brand



During the interview process, highlight every important part of the compensation package, such as unlimited PTO, remote work options, flex benefits, positive company culture, or other benefits. Play up any of your benefits that will catch the attention of millennials.

Do some quantitative research on websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn Salary, and to get an idea of what range of salary your offer is up against. Even if you know you’re budget is more limited than your competitors, be transparent and upfront about salary from the get-go. The benefits of being completely transparent about salary, benefits, and other aspects of the job offer outweigh the costs of potentially losing a candidate to another offer. If you know you’re coming in low, use the other aspects of your compensation package to attract your potential candidate.

It is possible to win over a candidate with a lower offer. To do so, hiring managers should be sure to highlight a few key aspects during the interview process that will prove to the candidate that their offer is the winning one. Candidates can then make informed, accurate decisions and make the right choice for them.  


Bonus: Easy and Effective New Hire Templates to make your job Easy

Make a first impression that gets your new hire excited to accept! These easy-to-use new hire templates will help you in each step of recruiting from application to your new hire’s first week on the job.


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