Episode #159 – Animal Health and Veterinary Salary Negotiations and “Burning Bridges”

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #159 - Animal Health and Veterinary Salary Negotiations and “Burning Bridges”
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder of The VET Recruiter and workplace and workforce expert, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about Animal Health and Veterinary salary negotiations and “burning bridges” during the hiring process. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here. And specifically, I’m glad to be talking today about this particular topic, Animal Health and Veterinary salary negotiations.

Julea: I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about Animal Health and Veterinary salary negotiations Stacy!

Stacy: Yes, so, First of all, salary negotiations is a very popular topic for professionals working in any industry. Just about everyone wants to know how to negotiate well when it comes to money and salary during the hiring process.

However, not everyone negotiates well when it comes to money. You would think that with as much interest as there is in the topic, more people would be able to negotiate well. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And that’s the main reason I want to talk about this topic today. I think there are many professionals in the employment marketplace, including within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, who don’t use the correct approach for salary negotiations.

Julea: Stacy,  If people are interested in the topic and want to learn more about it, why aren’t they more knowledgeable?

Stacy: Multiple reasons, really, but the main one is that we’re in a red-hot candidates’ job market.

Julea: How does this type of job market affect things Stacy?

Stacy: In the type of job market that we’re currently in, candidates usually have the leverage in a hiring situation. In other words, the employer needs the candidate more than the candidate needs the employer. We have been talking about the shortage of veterinarians for example for a while now. While that’s good for candidates and job seekers, it can cause problems if those candidates and job seekers try to abuse their leverage during Animal Health and Veterinary salary negotiations. Now, I’m not saying that these people are being intentionally malicious. I’m saying that it’s often human nature to try to take advantage of a situation because you have the leverage. However, this kind of behavior can be considered unprofessional and can have long-term consequences that people don’t think about.

Julea: Stacy, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you have a story for us today because you usually come with good stories Stacy. Is that the case?

Stacy: That IS the case! In fact, I have more than just one story to share, but we would be here all day if I told stories about all the things I’ve witnessed as an executive recruiter and search consultant working in the Animal Health and Veterinary Industry. But the story I have today Julea is about the most important part of the hiring process, and that’s the offer stage of the process.

Julea: Why is the offer stage the most important part of the process?

Stacy: For a number of reasons, actually, starting with the fact that this is when the real decisions are made. This is when an employer decides which candidate they want to hire, and then the candidate decides whether or not they’re going to accept the offer that the employer makes to them. But it has ramifications beyond that, as well.

Julea: What do you mean?

Stacy: Job candidates have to remember that they’re branding themselves during the hiring process, just like employers are branding themselves. So if you act badly, then it’s going to reflect poorly upon you, not just in terms of this single job, but also in terms of the future and your career.

Julea: Is that the “burning bridges” portion of today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Indeed, it is. That’s because if you handle the Animal Health or Veterinary salary negotiation poorly, then you could create a situation where not only will an employer not want to consider you for employment again, but the recruiter will also consider not working with you.

Julea: Yikes Stacy! So what happened in your story?

Stacy: Well, I was recently working to fill an executive-level position for one of my clients within the Veterinary profession. There was a candidate who was interested in the position for a number of reasons. For one, he wanted to move to the part of the country where the position was located, mainly because he was from the Northeast and the cost of living was going to be lower where the new job was.

For another thing, the candidate said that he and his wife were able to relocate because their kids were out of the house, so they were free to go wherever they wanted. And this candidate had researched the state where the job was located, and he very much wanted to go to that state.

Julea: So far, so good. So what happened next?

Stacy: Well, this was a six-week process, from beginning to end. It was clear that my client thought this candidate was the top choice. I could tell they wanted to hire this candidate, so I asked the candidate what starting salary it would take to accept my client’s offer. He came back with a reasonable number. So I went back to my client, who made an offer to the candidate that was $25,000 more than the low end of his range.

Julea: So that’s a slam-dunk then, right? Since the offer was $25,000 more than the minimum the candidate said he would accept, the deal was done.

Stacy: Not quite.

Julea: No?

Stacy: I’m afraid not. Unfortunately, the candidate came back and said he wanted a starting salary that was $50,000 more than what my client had offered.

Julea: Wait a minute . . . $50,000 more than what the client offered is $75,000 more than the minimum that the candidate said he needed to accept the offer. How did that happen?

Stacy: Julea, I asked the candidate that question multiple times.

Julea: And what did he say?

Stacy: He said that he didn’t know how many opportunities were available in the marketplace when he started the process. As a result, he decided to ask for $75,000 more than the low end of the range that HE set. Remember, I wasn’t the one who set that salary range. My client wasn’t the one who set the range. The candidate set the range . . . and then he completely blew it up at the last minute.

Julea: I imagine that the client was not happy.

Stacy: No, my client was not happy at all. The hiring manager commented to me that they felt like they had been the victim of a “bait and switch.” And I have to say, I felt the same way.

Julea: I see what you mean by “burning bridges.” This candidate definitely “burned bridges,” didn’t he?

Stacy: Yes, he did. He left a bad taste in the mouth of the hiring manager. They’re going to remember his name and what he did. They’re certainly not going to want to consider him for employment ever again, and if someone in the company asks them about the candidate, they’ll tell that person about their experience with him.

Julea: And I imagine you’re not too keen on what happened, either.

Stacy: That’s correct. I wasn’t too keen on it at all. In fact, I’m still not keen on it. This story is an example of breaking one of the cardinal rules of being a professional. That rule is doing what you say you’re going to do. When you say that you’re going to do something and then you don’t do it, you’re branding yourself as unreliable, and if you brand yourself as unreliable, then you’re also branding yourself as untrustworthy.

Julea: In terms of personal branding, that’s about the worst thing you can do, isn’t it?

Stacy: That’s right. No matter what else happens during the offer stage and the rest of the hiring process, you can NOT “burn bridges” as a job candidate.

Julea: Stacy, is “ghosting” another example of “burning bridges”?

Stacy: It certainly is! That’s another prime example of “burning bridges” as a job candidate, and I’m seeing it happen with more frequency. That’s unfortunate because the candidates who participate in “ghosting” don’t realize that they’re harming their reputation and quite possibly hurting themselves in terms of their career. They’re sacrificing long-term growth for what is, at best, short-term gain. In fact, they may find out that they gain nothing in the short term, while still sacrificing in the long term.

Julea: Stacy, you’ve talked about Animal Health and Veterinary salary negotiation before on the show, haven’t you?

Stacy: Yes, I have. Specifically, I talked about the right way for candidates to negotiate money in Episode #41. I encourage our listeners to check out that episode, if they haven’t done so already. It involves the dangers of what’s called “negotiating backwards” and also includes a three-step process for approaching and discussing the subject of money with an employer. Today’s episode, though, is different.

Julea: How’s that?

Stacy: This story or case study that I’ve shared today is not an isolated incident. It’s happened before, to varying degrees. Now, I have to admit, these other instances weren’t quite as extreme as today’s story, but a couple of them were close. And what these stories all have in common is that the candidates involved in them displayed a staggering lack of awareness in regards to what they were doing and how they were acting.

And what is remarkable to me is that in almost every instance, the candidate felt as if they were justified in their behavior. When I talked with them about it, they explained their behavior away, as if they really had no choice in what they did. As if saying they were going to do something and then not doing that something was completely out of their control, when obviously that was not the case.

Julea: So what’s the take-away from this story and from today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: There are a couple of take-aways. First, you should not “burn bridges” with an employer, a recruiter, or both. There’s no good reason to do it, and you should avoid it.

Second, do what you say you’re going to do. This means when you say that you’re going to do something, make 100% sure that you’re going to do it. Do NOT promise things that you can’t deliver. Once again, this makes you seem unreliable and untrustworthy, and no one wants to hire someone who unreliable and untrustworthy.

Third, instead of not doing what you say you’re going to do, you should under-promise and over-deliver.

Julea: What does that mean, exactly?

Stacy: As I mentioned earlier, if you promise something, make sure that you promise something that you know you can deliver. And then, if possible, go beyond what you promised to deliver. This will brand you as someone who always exceeds expectations. Which is a LOT better than branding yourself as someone who is unreliable.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. We’re just about out of time for today. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap up today’s episode?

Stacy: Yes, there is. I know better than anyone that we’re in a candidates’ market right now and that candidates have a lot of leverage. And as I said earlier, I also understand that it’s human nature to try to take advantage of a situation where you have more leverage. But I want to remind everyone that current market conditions are not going to last forever. There is going to be a recession eventually. It’s not a matter of if, but when. So keep that in mind when you’re interviewing for a job and interacting with employers. And especially keep it in mind during Animal Health or Veterinary salary negotiations with an employer. Instead, brand yourself in the best way possible and do not “burn bridges.” Because you never know how quickly the tables can turn.

And I encourage anyone in our listening audience who is concerned about the possibility of a recession to listen to one of our recent podcast episodes. That would be Episode #155, which is titled “The Job Market for Veterinarians: Preparing for a Recession.” That episode has plenty of advice and tips for how to be ready for a downturn in the economy. It will  come at some point even though things are good right now.

Julea: Stacy, thank you again Stacy for all of this great information about Animal Health and Veterinary salary negotiations. And for those people who are considering a job change, there are many animal health and veterinary employment opportunities on The VET Recruiter website and I encourage you to check them out at www.thevetrecruiter.com

Stacy: Yes, there are. For those listeners who want to change their current situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite them to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. Animal Health and Veterinary employers who have animal health jobs and veterinary jobs to fill I encourage you to contact us as well at www.thevetrecruiter.com

Julea: Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Julea, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health Employment Insider!

Julea: That’s all for today’s show. For Stacy Pursell and everyone at The VET Recruiter, thank for your listening and we welcome you to join us next time when we address more employment issues in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. We hope that you’ll join us then!