The Proper Way to Handle Salary Negotiations

Stacy Pursell

The VET Recruiter ®

We’ve discussed the topics of money and salary negotiation before, and we’ll be doing so again. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, negotiating money correctly is very important for candidates who want to maximize the job offers that they receive from potential Animal Health and Veterinary employers. Making mistakes during this stage of the process can be costly—both literally and figuratively.

Second, money and salary negotiations are consistently two of the most popular topics among our readers. This makes sense, of course. Everyone wants to know what to do and what to say to ensure they don’t make the costly mistakes just mentioned.

In a previous article, we addressed “negotiating backwards.” This involves asking about the starting salary for a position before you’ve even interviewed for that position. However, in this article, we’re going to dive further into the intricacies of salary negotiation during the hiring process.

Case studies: a learning opportunity

One of the best ways to learn how to do something correctly is to do something incorrectly. When you know what NOT to do, you move one step closer to knowing what needs to be done. And as we’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, it’s far better to learn from someone else’s mistakes and not your own. When you learn from the mistakes of someone else, it’s just as instructive . . . but in many cases, far less costly.

As many of you know, we often present case studies in the newsletter articles and blog posts that we provide for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. We do so because these case studies represent one of two things:

  1. The right way to do something
  2. The wrong way to do something

Regardless of which of these two things a particular case study represents, it affords a learning opportunity. As you might have already guessed, there is a case study in this article, and in this particular instance, it represents the wrong way to do something.

I was recently working with a candidate, and that candidate had reached the offer stage of the process with one of my clients. This candidate asked for “everything under the sun.” Not only that, but he also asked for progressively more and more. He wanted more money, more time off, more continuing education, a later start date, etc.

My client took all of these requests in stride, and the hiring manager was gracious enough to present an offer that included everything that the candidate wanted. You might be thinking to yourself that this story and this case study ends with the candidate accepting my client’s offer.

No, that is NOT how it ends.

Bottom line: it’s not worth the risk

It ends with the candidate declining the offer.

Was the candidate within his right to decline the offer? Of course he was. Every candidate is within his or her right to make the decision that they believe is the best one for them. However, there is a whole list of reasons why this case study represents what NOT to do during the offer stage of the hiring process. If you do what this candidate did, then you run the risk of the following:

#1—Appearing dishonest

When you ask for progressively more and more during the offer stage, what you’re implying is that if the things for which you’re asking are provided, then you will accept the offer. If that was not the case, then why are you asking for these things in the first place? There would be no point. As a result, when you turn down an offer that contains everything for which you’ve asked, it appears as though you had no intention of accepting the offer in the first place.

#2—“Burning bridges” with the employer

The hiring process is long enough as it is. It requires a ton of time, energy, and effort. When a hiring manager “bends over backwards” to placate a candidate during the offer stage and that candidate declines the offer, it equates to a ton of wasted time, energy, and effort. The hiring manager is not going to forget what the candidate put them through, only to decline the offer. This hiring manager and this employer will not consider the candidate again for one of their open positions. After what happened, why would they?

#3—“Burning bridges” with the recruiter

Just like the hiring manager, the recruiter expended a ton of time, energy, and effort in the process. They negotiated back and forth between the candidate and the hiring manager, hoping to broker a win-win situation for both. Remember that a recruiter’s reputation is on line every time they present a candidate to one of their clients. What that candidate does and how they conduct themselves during the hiring process is a direct reflection upon the recruiter. Consequently, the candidate could jeopardize being presented to other opportunities in the future.

Once again, is the candidate within their rights to decline the offer? Absolutely, they are. But considering the circumstances surrounding the offer and the amount of concessions for which they asked, this situation was wrought with risk. And the bottom line is that taking this course of action is simply not worth the risk.

The Animal Health industry and the Veterinary profession are not huge fields. In other words, “everyone knows everyone it seems.” As such, you should NOT adopt a short-term approach to your job search and your career. Doing what’s best for you in the short term will only benefit you in the short term . . . and sometimes, it doesn’t even benefit you then.

Your career is a long-term proposition. And the younger you are, the longer the proposition is. So keep that in mind during the hiring process, especially during the offer stage. Think of what’s best for you and your career in the long term and act accordingly.

You are well within your rights to decline an offer. Just make sure that when you do, you don’t appear dishonest and you don’t “burn bridges” while you do it.

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.

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