Negotiating Money: The BIG Mistake You Might Be Making

Let’s face it: when it comes to a new employment opportunity, money is important. In fact, that might be an understatement.

However, considering how important money is to candidates, you might be surprised by how candidates approach money and money negotiations. Unfortunately, many of them approach these issues incorrectly, and they do so from the very beginning of the process. When this happens, they put themselves at a great disadvantage. In short, they lose leverage. The reason they lose that leverage? Because they take it away from themselves!

As crazy as that might sound, it’s the truth. And we’ll explore that truth in this article.

Negotiating backwards

In my many years of experience as an Animal Health Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter, the biggest mistake that I see people make when it comes to negotiating money is that they negotiate backwards. Now what does that mean? I will illustrate with a common example. I call it a common example because it has happened countless times during my recruiting career.

I reach out to a candidate about an opportunity with one of my clients. The candidate is interested. However, they don’t want to move forward in the process yet. First, they want to know what the compensation will be. Now, I can’t answer that question, not with any real accuracy, because I’m not a time traveler or a psychic. It may seem like I’m trying to be funny, but I’m actually not. That’s a serious answer.

The fact of the matter is that I have no idea what compensation offer my client will make, if my client makes an offer to this particular candidate.

All I know is the pay range that my client is willing to pay. And it’s actually ironic that the candidate is asking me what the compensation will be. It’s ironic because they have more influence over what the compensation figure will be than I do!

The reason: everything depends on how well the candidate performs during the interview and how much they impress the hiring manager. When a candidate asks me what the starting compensation for a particular employment opportunity is going to be, that’s like asking me to guess how impressive they’re going to be during the interview. That’s a question that’s almost impossible for me to answer.

The offer and the resume

Then, of course, there’s the issue of the offer of employment. First, as a candidate, you have to earn the right to receive an offer. Just because you’re a candidate and the organization is considering you does not automatically mean that you’re going to get an offer. So in effect, you’re almost “putting the cart before the horse” when you ask what the starting compensation for an Animal Health job or Veterinary job will be when you haven’t even interviewed for the job yet.

Now, you might be thinking, “What about the resume? Won’t my resume convey how much value I can bring to the company, and therefore, how much the company should be willing to pay me?”

Not all of a candidate’s value is conveyed or contained in their resume. After all, if it was all contained in the resume, there would not be a need for interviews. But the interview process is necessary. It’s necessary because organizations want to evaluate candidates at all levels, including how they present themselves, their communication skills, and how they’ll fit into the company’s culture.

All of this—the resume, a candidate’s skills and experience, and the face-to-face interview—are used to first determine which candidate receives an offer of employment and second what the compensation level associated with that offer will be.

A matter of losing leverage

When you negotiate backwards when it comes to compensation, you put yourself at risk for losing leverage. As many of you know, I’m a big proponent of having leverage. When you have it, you can move from a position of strength in a given situation. Leverage is a valuable commodity in the employment marketplace.

To illustrate this, let’s run through a hypothetical situation. Let’s say that a job candidate wants to know what their starting salary would be for a particular open position. So the hiring manager provides a figure. Let’s peg that figure as not too high and not too low. The candidate decides to interview for the position, and they interview well. They interview so well, in fact, that the hiring manager decides to make an offer to them.

Here’s the problem: no matter how well the candidate interviewed, the hiring manager is going to extend an offer that contains the compensation figure that they provided to the candidate before the interview. With their performance during the interview, the candidate may have earned themselves a better offer, but now they’re not going to receive that better offer. That’s called losing leverage and “leaving money on the table.”

Here’s the bottom line: the interview can you give you more leverage when negotiating salary and compensation. YOU have the power to affect the final outcome.

Negotiating salary should always occur at the end of the interviewing and hiring process, during the offer stage. These negotiations can be delicate, and that’s why aligning yourself with an experienced Animal Health Recruiter or Veterinary Recruiter is a strategic and intelligent career move. Experienced recruiters have experience helping candidates negotiate compensation so they can receive the best offer and set themselves up for success in their new job.
But first, you have to interview. Not only that, but you have to interview well and convince the hiring manager that you’re worthy of an offer of employment.

So don’t make this critical mistake. Don’t negotiate backwards and lose leverage in the process. Approach the situation the correct way so that you can put yourself in the best position possible.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.