Master the Art of Salary Negotiation, Then Make an Offer

By Robert Half on November 29, 2016 at 11:05am

Managers, when it comes to salary negotiation, hard-to-find candidates hold increasing leverage in today’s competitive hiring market. The shortage of skilled accounting and finance professionals, combined with frequent instances of candidates receiving multiple job offers, exacerbates existing recruiting difficulties and requires companies to up the ante to attract top talent.

For decades, Robert Half has helped employers evaluate compensation trends and develop strategies that align with their industry and region. The latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance shows a comprehensive list of salary ranges for more 175 positions, with a Salary Calculator to adjust salaries ranges for jobs in your Canadian city.

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Even with Canadian finance and accounting salary ranges expected to increase an average of 3.1 per cent in the coming year, employers can make an offer that is both attractive to top job candidates and a fit for the organization. That is what we call "mastering the art of salary negotiation."

So, where do you start? Here are five salary negotiation tips to help you woo top talent and build your ideal finance team today.

1. Research the market

Examine the hiring market, with an emphasis on local trends affecting hiring. Talk to your network about what they are seeing, the salaries they’ve had to offer and hiring strategies that have worked for them.

Also review industry reports, such as our Salary Guide and other specialized salary guides. Resources such as these provide insights into positions in demand and key trends influencing the hiring outlook. These types of tools also help you see how your compensation practices stack up against your competitors and other companies in your area.

2. Know your limits

Whether you’re operating on a tighter budget or have significant room to move on salaries, determine the upper limit of what you can offer prior to negotiations. To identify this number, ask yourself:

  • How flexible can I be with this position and its pay level?

  • Are there other skilled candidates available in case my top contender does not accept the offer?

  • Is there a talent shortage for this particular specialty? If so, how severe is it?

  • Could a stronger offer create tension if it’s out of line with what other members of my team earn?

  • In addition to salary, what options do I have to bolster my offer?

3. Determine the candidate’s expectations

Professionals commonly want to make a move to a job that will pay them more, and many people are confident in their earning power. In order to develop an attractive compensation package, managers must understand an applicant’s current pay level.

Job seekers are likely researching relevant salary trends (and reading blogs like this one), and you must be, too. A lack of insights into current market conditions or the candidate’s desires is a major red flag for professionals considering joining your company.

4. Consider perks

Money may be a driving factor, but it isn’t the only issue people consider when choosing a job. Find out what matters most to the professionals you’re recruiting — do they want flexible hours or the opportunity to work remotely, for example — and be creative with employee perks and incentives. In many cases, meeting applicants’ needs in these other areas, which often include little to no cost, can be the difference in whether they join your company or not.

5. Finish strong with your salary negotiation

Think of the negotiation process as relationship building. Be upfront about your salary numbers, and make a strong initial offer. See how the candidate responds. Then be prepared to justify your offer.

You can find out a lot about a person in this stage of hiring. When a candidate enters into the negotiation process, it shows confidence, but is that confidence accompanied by professionalism and courtesy? Those are characteristics you want for your team.

Whether you succeed in hiring your top candidate or not, keep negotiations professional and courteous. If the person joins your firm, you will have provided a great start for him or her with your company. If your offer is declined, you’ve at least fostered a positive experience that could keep your business top of mind for the next time the professional contemplates a career move.

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