You have finally found your next great hire! You pored over countless resumes, completed all the interviews, checked references and now it’s time for salary negotiation. You want to extend an offer that will be accepted. While the offer isn’t only about the compensation package, it usually is the top concern of job seekers.
Before beginning the salary negotiation, it’s important to have a clear understanding of both parties’ objectives. Your objective should be to negotiate a fair, market-based compensation package that is competitive based on the unique combination of skills that you require in this new employee, while being fiscally responsible to your company.
Your potential employee’s objective should also be to negotiate a fair, market-based compensation package based on their unique skills and experience. In the best case scenario, both parties desire the same outcome, a negotiation that results in a win-win. Here are six tips:
- Conduct market research. Prior to your salary negotiation discussion, do your homework so your salary offer is based on actual market data. Review salaries posted on current online job postings as well as a reputable salary guide from an industry expert. This research is critical to your effectiveness and credibility in the salary negotiation process.
- Make adjustments if needed. Starting salaries are changing rapidly, especially in many high demand disciplines. If you find a material difference in your budgeted compensation package and what your research tells you, make adjustments if you can. Just because you’ve always paid $70,000 for a certain role, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to continue to find the same level of talent at that salary. If you aren’t offering competitive compensation, you may be left settling for your second or third choice for the role.
- Minimize surprises. Talk about compensation expectations early and often with the candidate. You want to know as soon as possible what the salary expectation is and how flexible they are when it comes to negotiating a fair starting package. It’s not about negotiating in the first interview, but about understanding the candidate’s expectations so both parties save valuable time if the compensation gap is just too large to bridge. There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours together with both parties thinking they’ve found the right fit only to have the deal fall apart at the end because you couldn’t make the numbers work.
- Take emotion out of the equation. Negotiating can become personal and emotional. Resist the temptation to dig in your heels. Nothing can make a positive situation like extending a job offer turn south faster than an intense and frustrating conversation around starting salary. Remain calm and keep the conversation professional, while maintaining an open mind. Don’t let pride or inflexibility prohibit you from getting the employee you want!
- Money isn’t everything. Starting compensation is always high on the list of reasons potential employees accept or decline a job offer. That said, there are many other factors to consider, especially if you’re limited in the salary you can offer. Can you offer a flexible schedule, such as working four, 10-hour days with Fridays off, for example? Is telecommuting possible? Working from home can save employees valuable time and money (in commute costs). Options such as these may be just enough to tip the scales in your favor from a reluctant candidate.
- Never extend an offer you aren’t certain will be accepted. Offer acceptance should be a forgone conclusion when you get to this stage of the process. You want to be so thorough in the interview process that you are confident the candidate can do the job, wants the job and that the compensation aligns with their expectations. If you have questions or reservations, have those discussions with the prospective employee before making the formal offer.