by Stacy Pursell, The VET Recruiter®
I write quite a bit about the topics of both compensation and negotiation. That’s because not only are they two of the most important topics for job seekers and candidates, but they’re also two of the most popular topics among job seekers and candidates.
So—you guessed it—I’m tackling both topics at once in this article.
And also as you might have guessed, I have a case study that serves as the foundation of the article. As always, I include case studies in my articles and blog posts primarily as cautionary tales. The only thing better than learning from your own mistakes is learning from the mistakes of others. That way, you don’t have to endure the pain of the mistake in order to benefit from it.
Well, I’m actually going to “under-promise and over-deliver.” That’s because I have not just one case study, but two.
2 for the price of 1
In our first case study, we have a candidate who is earning a certain amount of money at her current employer. During our interview with the candidate, she indicated that she needed to earn the same amount or more in the new position. That’s reasonable. Well, my client offered her a salary that was $13,000 more than what she was currently making! So she accepted the offer, right? Wrong. She countered the offer in an attempt to get an additional $2,000.
In our second case study, we interviewed a candidate who once again stated that they needed to earn a certain amount of money if they were to be hired. Once again, that’s reasonable. In fact, during the interview, the candidate discussed that salary range with the hiring manager. Then after the interview was over, the candidate asked for a starting salary that was $50,000 more than what was discussed. (That’s not a misprint: $50,000.)
Not surprisingly, the hiring manager was not happy. Not only did they say they were not going to meet that salary expectation, they also said they felt they had been the victim of a “bait and switch.” I asked the candidate about her thought process behind their request. She said, “If you don’t ask for it, you won’t know if you will get it or not.” So then the candidate shaved $35,000 off his request. The hiring manager said no. So the candidate shaved another $10,000 off his request. And the hiring manager still said no.
The hiring manager was annoyed. They no longer wanted to consider the candidate for the position. And when you think about it . . . can you really blame them?
Perception is reality
The candidates in these case studies may not have thought they were being greedy. They may not have felt greedy. After all, greed is subjective. However, they appeared greedy to the hiring managers. That was their perception, and as I’ve stated on many previous occasions, perception is reality in the employment marketplace.
With these two case studies still fresh in our minds, below are three BIG reasons not to be greedy (or appear greedy) during salary negotiations:
#1—The hiring manager will think that money is your #1 consideration.
Why is this bad? Because if the hiring manager thinks that money is your #1 consideration, they’re also going to think that you’re at risk for accepting a counter-offer from your current employer. They might also think that you’re at risk for accepting their offer and then accepting another employer’s offer after the fact if you like that one better.
#2—A greedy candidate translates into a selfish employee.
Remember that what the hiring manager sees during the hiring process is what they believe they’ll see if you become an employee. This is the essence of personal branding. And as you can see by the case studies presented above, not only might the hiring manager perceive you to be greedy, but they might also perceive you to be dishonest. After all, these candidates presented a salary figure that they indicated would be acceptable. Then, after receiving an offer that met their expectation, they changed the figure. That’s where the “bait and switch” enters the picture.
#3—You’re effectively killing the excitement surrounding your candidacy.
This is the sad end-result to all of this. Not a very happy ending, is it? It certainly wasn’t for the two candidates in my case studies. How, exactly, have you killed the excitement surrounding your candidacy? Let us count the ways:
- If the hiring manager thinks that you’re a risk to accept a counter-offer or an offer from another employer after accepting their offer, they’re not going to make the offer.
- If the hiring manager believes that you’re greedy, they’re not going to make the offer.
- If the hiring manager believes that you’re dishonest, they’re not going to make the offer.
- If the hiring manager believes that you’re both greedy and dishonest, then they definitely are not going to make the offer.
See where this is going? For those candidates who engage in this type of salary negotiation behavior, it goes nowhere.
Look, I get it: we’re in a candidates’ job market right now. No one knows this more than I do. However, there is a limit to what candidates can do in a candidates’ job market. You can’t “ask for the world” because qualified candidates are in short supply. While employers are interested and motivated to hire top talent for their open positions, they are NOT desperate. And if you treat them like they’re desperate, they are not likely to react in a positive fashion. At the very least, they are not going to “give you the world.” They still have budgets they have to maintain and salary bands.
This is where leaning on the expertise and experience of a recruiter pays off, and I mean that in the literal sense. I have participated in hundreds of salary negotiations between employers and candidates in every kind of job market imaginable. I know all the ins and outs, and I know where the lines and limitations are.
What you want to do is maximize the potential that a situation offers, not destroy that potential by misjudging the situation with the application of false assumptions and flawed logic. Take advantage of current job market conditions . . . instead of wasting them.
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