Negotiating salary in recruitment.

The story goes…

A friend of mine had a difficult salary negotiation with a company, we discussed that together. He was not nervous about the issue, afterall they had been so friendly with him during the selection process, that he was more focused about the high demand expectations from the company than the job itself. So that, together with his motivation, it made him make a small offer because he was worried not to fit in in terms of salary. But I saw something strange, there were last minute job inclusions not expected. They were also too keen on him and already speaking about his future work before even the salary negotiation! We prepared it together but everything went wrong because he did not stop the job descriptions and other clarifications in order to negotiate/increase salary. When he realized of the strategy from the company it was too late and they had increased the tasks and reduced salary expectations. He does not even now remember if that was before or after his YES. Now he thinks he has beed mistreated and he’s underpaid and starting a job without motivation.

Lessons learnt

It is clear that the company loses when the company stretches too much a candidate to start in a company under salary. Often companies sell to candidates the good working conditions: environment, city locations, or working hours, in order to attract talent; which is good. It happens usually when they acknowledge that people in their companies are lower paid than the average. But many times, it also depends on the person at the other side of the desk because in the end the negotiation is a one to one ping pong game.

But let us start from zero.

Negotiating is as ancient as human beings, the “I want to sell / I want to buy” show is old stuff. But there are two basic rules that define a good negotiation:

  1. First is that There is no negotiation if there is no agreement.
  2. Second rule is that it must or at least should be a win-win agreement.

The first one is obvious, specially at job search, a candidate that starts a negotiation with far too high salary expectations can eventually be excluded. Moreover, these days I hear that companies are more strict within their salary limits, and it seems to me obvious, knowing that a candidate with too high expectations would leave soon the company soon if they are not met. Budgets are more important than ever these days. (Please let me add that this comment is more generic, that talent is always talent, and people would pay for talent always; some positions do not even get filled in, we are in the talent era). But in the end, it is a offer-demand thing. I am not mentioning that candidates should be under-valued in terms of salary, but candidates should be able at a first stage to give a wide range to fit into a position.

The win-win sometimes is not clear. The job of HR people is to make it affordable for the company to get the bests candidates. So there must be a mutual agreement in terms of salary, the recruiter must know the market of professionals and have a clear vision where the company is positioned in terms of salary, knowing that eventually talent could be out of the scope of certain salary ranges. Therefore the company must make efforts via salary or compensation benefits to attract the talent. From the candidate’s perspective, too high salary, it is sometimes automatically rejected. And therefore it is important to know how much one is worth (one can easily find nowadays salaries in the internet). And remember, no interview no job. No good salary negotiation no job.

I’ve got the power.

The most important thing before starting a salary negotiation is, who’s got the power? I mean the negotiation power. And this is not related to the candidate working situation. In terms of the company it will be related to how many candidates available, how much this candidate fits into the company values and culture, and how urgent is to fill the position among others. Furthermore the position on the company in the market and reputation helps to gain this power.

From the point of view of the candidate. The more reputation and experience the better power position. Candidates already working and not openly looking for changes have often more negotiation power. If it is the company or the headhunter looking for the candidate it helps. If you are one of the fews tops in your category in the market of course. If you are in two or three selection processes let them know. And so on.

But in the end it is all about how you express what you express. And it is also how much you value yourself in front of a company. But of course, before one needs to make a good interview, have good experience and show a lot of motivation.

Everything is negotiable in life. Steps

Step 1: You need to know how valuable objectively is in the market (there are webs that give you the average salary for that sector, position and years in the market by country and even city).

Step 2: You must be clever enough to give to the company a salary range. Company will do the same, give you their salary range for that position.

Step 3: You must position yourself in the range on upper, lower or middle values and let them know. Companies always do it (i.e. “candidate must be really experience to achieve the high range of salary”, “in your case we would expect to be a challenge more than economical….”). So why don’t you do it. (i.e. “For these kind of roles, knowing the scope and people in charge I would expect the company to offer me…”, “I wouldn’t change for less than.. “). Always be prudent and polite. And remember to give it into (appropiate) ranges.

Step 4: At the same time that you give range in step 3, leave discussions to the end: just remark the ranges and expectations and always mention you will come to an agreement. Use phrases like “I am sure that there will be a mutual understanding and agreement”, “for me it is much more important that I fit into your company and that you like my profile”, “I am sure that we would meet us halfway”. And remember to say it because you feel it. Be always honest to yourself.

Step 5: Let the company make you an offer. If it is far away from your expectations be truly with yourself and your motivation. How much would you reduce?. If you cannot find a common point do not take it, do not feel too under paid. If it matches your expectations, remember there is always a bit room for improvement and prepare it well, make a good argumentation always leaving the door open, never close doors in Negotiation.

Step 6: After minor modifications, take it. Do not bargain. The company can think that you only move because of money and fear you to leave or even worst, you can get a bad reputation. In the end you also do not want to be more monitored or judged on performance at the beginning (“To what we pay him/her must be good..”).

Finally I always say that I fit in all projects and I can come to any price if the project is motivating and I recommend you to consider my words. Because in the end what most counts is a balance between salary and job profile, motivation and payback. You must feel well paid but also company must feel that they buy a good choice.

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