Benefits and Compensation

Negotiating Salary with a Job Candidate

You’ve finally found the ideal job candidate, and now it’s time to make a job offer. If you haven’t yet discussed salary, this can be an uncomfortable conversation.

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What if the candidate wants more than you’re offering?

Eliminating the Element of Surprise

Compensation is still sometimes treated as a taboo topic during the interview phase of a possible employment relationship. It’s the elephant in the room that both the company and the candidate ignore.
Job seekers are often counseled to not bring up salary until the interviewer does. The interviewer, meanwhile, doesn’t want to take the conversation in that direction until there is interest in the candidate.
One way around this is to include salary information, whether actual salary or a salary range, as part of a job ad. It’s a practice some employers, as well as companies in the recruitment industry, including job site Glassdoor, support, mainly because it addresses this important issue up front. Nevertheless, including salaries has downsides as well.
Another approach is to bring up salary ranges early in the interview process, in order to gauge an interest in the job. If you tell a candidate the job pays between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, and the person is seeking double that, you probably won’t find common ground.

Talking Dollars

Regardless of whether you’ve already shared preliminary information about salary, a candidate may ask for more money, once a job offer has been made.
According to a 2017 study by recruiting software provider Jobvite, 29 percent of job seekers negotiated their salary at their current or most recent job. Asking for more money, it turns out, usually proves successful. Among those who negotiated, 84 percent received higher salaries, and one-fifth received 11 to 20 percent more.
Workers who make more are more likely to negotiate, Jobvite finds.
If in your role as recruiter or hiring manager, you’re uncomfortable with salary negotiations, chances are the candidate feels the same way. Jobvite finds that 48 percent of job seekers don’t feel comfortable negotiating salary.

Taking Charge

As the recruiter or hiring manager responsible for making a job offer, however, you should expect to negotiate salary. With this in mind, prepare in advance for the conversation.
Know the salary range for the position – not only the “official” range, but the absolute top end the company will pay for an ideal candidate. After you make an offer, ideally less than that number, review the entire compensation package.
When reviewing overall compensation, make sure you include:

  • Paid time off, including vacation days, personal days, and paid holidays
  • Matching contributions to 401(k) or other retirement plan
  • Tuition reimbursement or paid training programs
  • Student loan assistance
  • Annual bonuses and/or sign-on bonuses, when applicable
  • Stock options, when applicable
  • Health insurance and dental insurance
  • Life insurance and disability insurance
  • Paid parking or commuter assistance

In addition, don’t forget to mention other benefits that have a less obvious dollar value, but may still make an impact, such as:

  • Telecommuting opportunity, even if part time
  • Half days on Fridays during the summer
  • Free snacks

Will you have to give a little, if the candidate wants more money? Probably. But if you show how much your company already offers, you will take the focus off take-home pay and get the candidate to look at overall compensation.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.

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