salary negotiations

After weeks of processing CVs, screening candidates via phone interviews, and then undergoing a rigorous interviewing process, you’ve found the perfect candidate for the job role you’re recruiting for.

They tick every box, and are a perfect fit for the role: now all that’s left is to negotiate a salary. This is always a tricky stage for recruiters – if your salary negotiations go wrong, you could end up starting all over again.

Here are some key things every recruiter needs to know when it comes to salary negotiations:

  • A job contract should be mutually beneficial to both parties. As a recruiter, you have a budget you need to adhere to – but hear the candidate out when they raise valid concerns and see if you can find a point that satisfies both parties.
  • Try to identify the candidate’s most recent salary and benefits to give you a better understanding of how much more of an increase they will be looking for.
  • Don’t agree to a salary you can’t uphold – enter into the negotiations fully prepared to fulfill whatever you offer.
  • If possible, use conditional increases. A guaranteed increase after a probation period can significantly increase the likelihood of your candidate accepting your offer.

Be Prepared

A high-quality candidate will have done their research into the average salary for the role they are applying for, and you should be prepared to be able to justify the salary you are offering for a role. These days, candidates know how to prepare themselves for asking for a raise, and if you are not willing to increase your salary offer then you should at least be able to clearly explain why.

Equally, as a recruiter it’s your responsibility to report back to your client if their current budget is too low to get them the quality of candidate they are looking for. You are responsible for managing expectations on both sides, so being prepared to backup your opinions with numbers and up-to-date market research is essential.

Try To Gage Their Expectations

A candidate’s current salary and benefits may be a closely guarded secret of theirs throughout the interview process, but you should make every effort to find out as much information about their current salary to prepare yourself for their expectations.

Most job-seekers will be looking for around a 10% – 20% rise (generally speaking), so having an idea of their current salary will let you know if your budget is suitable.

Additionally, gaining some insight into the candidate’s current wage and expectations will prepare you better for upselling other intangible benefits of your role, from job satisfaction to employee perks.

Time Your Negotiations Right

Opening your salary negotiations too early could turn away strong candidates before you’ve really piqued their interest in the job.

Ideally, the discussion of salary should not even begin until you are ready to make an offer. This benefits both you and the candidate: it allows you to determine if they are the right fit for your role, and also allows you to really highlight the positive, intangible benefits of the job role, from fulfillment and job satisfaction to employee perks.

Use Perks and Benefits As Bargaining Tools

Emphasize the non-salary compensation the job role includes – for example:

– Flexible working

– Bonus schemes

– Holiday allowance

– Company car

– Pension scheme

All of these additional perks and benefits can be a useful tool to convince a candidate to join you, even if you don’t have the budget for higher salary negotiations. For some employee benefits, it can also be useful to highlight the money saved from them – such as a company car, bonus schemes etc.

Upsell Non-Salary Benefits

A good way to test your candidate’s interest is to ask them if they would still be interested in the job if the salary wasn’t a factor. A way you can test this is to ask them something along the lines of “if money was off the table, would this still be the job you’re most interested in?” or, another popular technique is to ask candidates to rate the job role from 1 – 10 compared to other roles they may be considering.

If you’re not their number one choice, don’t make the offer yet. Find out why the role may or may not be their top choice, and what you can do (beyond salary expectations) to change that. This is also a good way to determine for yourself if the candidate is invested in the role for it’s long-term benefits, not just for the salary.

Above all, it’s important to maintain a fair and positive when negotiating a salary with a strong potential candidate. If you’ve reached the point where you are ready to negotiate a salary with a candidate, then it’s safe to assume that they have all the skills, experience, and other qualities you are looking for, so the salary should be the last point to complete the process.

Keep in mind that the salary needs to reflect your candidate’s experience and skill, so listen if they have concerns and be prepared to go back to your client if you feel the budget does not reflect this. Finding a mutually beneficial solution is going to be the best approach for both parties in the long-term.

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