Often cautious job candidates stay in jobs they don’t like just because they are too afraid to make a change. Then, they dare to dip their toes into the employment pool, and sometimes find themselves in icy waters. One individual recently told us, “It was a real high getting the interview and knowing the company was interested, but the punch in the gut came when they lowballed my salary.”
Price-sensitive companies are sticking tight to budgets, but keeping their wish lists high. They want to hire the qualified candidate who can offer them the best return on their investment and are flexing their pocketbooks with less frequency than they did in years past. They want great talent, but at bargain prices. Anxious job seekers, particularly those that have not been in the job market for some time, can be hurt or insulted when an offer comes in low. We advise candidates to compare any salary offer with what you might get now elsewhere in the marketplace – there is a world of difference between a ridiculously low offer and one that is competitive, but not generous.
Both Employer and Job Candidate Should Do Their Due Diligence Before Negotiation
Other factors also come into play when it comes to a job offer and compensation. An employer wants to make the best hire at a competitive salary and a job seeker needs to know when to accept a number that’s not quite in their ballpark. Both sides should do their due diligence before it gets down to the negotiation. It’s always smart to know what the competitive pay rate is for a particular job title, industry or region. Good sites for research include:
Secure the Position While Negotiating the Deal
The best way for a job candidate to handle a low salary offer without jeopardizing prospective employment is to NOT take it personally. The ultimate goal, presuming the individual wants the job, is to secure the position while negotiating the best deal. Most firms will expect some discussion about compensation. Once an offer has been extended, the time period between the offer and your acceptance is the period of greatest leverage. The employer has narrowed the field of candidates and chosen their favorite – they want the candidate to accept and are most willing to listen to his or her needs providing they are not completely out of line with their own criteria. As a candidate, if you decide that you want to negotiate, say something like this, “I’m very pleased to be offered this opportunity, but I believe the salary doesn’t take into consideration the value I bring to this position” and then be ready to offer a few key points. Name a salary that is higher than you expect to receive, but within reason. Leave room for the company to counter. Of course, if their offer has no wiggle room then it’s up to you to decide if you can live with this low(er) number. The same goes for the employer. How badly do you want to make this hire? Is it worth sacrificing a great candidate if there is room in the hiring budget?
Keeping the Salary Discussion Conversational
When discussing salary both parties should keep it conversational, not demanding – or condescending. You want to get off on a good foot with each other without creating a situation that will change the dynamics that allowed you to get to this point in the first place. Asking for or offering a salary that is too little will make the candidate reluctant to begin and being too greedy or too cheap can damage the halo of goodwill and motivation that accompanies a great hire. If you arrive an impasse, both parties should have some alternative upgrades ready – these might include professional training opportunities, additional paid vacation day, increased sick days, contributions toward insurance, commutation or childcare costs, bonus plans or more generous performance incentives, a more liberal flextime schedule, or frequency of reviews. Once settled, a formal offer should be extended with all the components of the compensation plan in writing.
When it comes to salary it’s not deal or no deal – it’s about the willingness to compromise and believe that the deal you’ve made, is the best one – regardless of which side of the interview desk you sit behind.