Most job applicants will tell you that they struggle with salary negotiations in an interview. This is because they don’t want to make their future employer unhappy.
An interview is an opportunity for both you and the employer to discover if you can work with each other. It should not be a salary negotiating venue.
If salary discussions are opened up, you may find that the interview ends in one party stating that they will “think about it”. They then will wait two days and reject the offer. You are commonly left with no chance to renegotiate. If you come in too high, the employer may think you are too greedy. They may think that even if you decide to take a lower rate, you may not stay long. They may of course accept your offer!
Sometimes the employer opens up the discussion. This is not in your favor. Many employers find themselves emotionally attached to the salary negotiations outcome. This is especially true of business owners.
A safer option is to state:
“I’d like to first see if we have a good match without money being involved.
We are in the right ball park with what I originally submitted.
I’d like to leave salary discussions between my agent and yourself if you don’t mind.”
Your role in the process should just be to sell yourself.
A good recruiter acts as your broker. It allows an unemotional discussion on salary. Their role is to professionally find that middle ground.
Last week, one of our clients mistakenly took on the salary negotiations in the interview.
They were previously aware of the candidate’s asking price and their current salary. The employer stated that they can’t go past a certain limit because of existing salaries. They then pointed out the weaknesses in the candidate’s application compared to their existing staff. At the end they offered a salary that was the same as what the candidate was already on.
The job seeker was shocked and insulted.
What the employer did not realize was that this candidate was on the same salary for the past 4 years. It was their first role and they were responsible for being the lead developer in a smaller team. This meant exposure to a wide variety of tools but not mastering one like the employer’s team had. In the market place his asking salary was already below what was fair value.
The candidate rang us two days after not returning our calls. He rejected the offer. Although shocked that the negotiation table had been moved, we asked him why. It was money.
He was already working, although not in his ideal role, and was happy to wait until a better offer arose. We trial closed him by asking that if he could get the money that he was after would he take this role. He said no.
After 15 minutes of discussion we discovered that his bottom line was: “If the salary is not suitable from the very start then its not acceptable at all”
Now this of course shows that the applicant is an inexperienced negotiator. He did not realize that this was possibly not the bottom line. It could have just been a negotiating gambit by the employer.
The applicant took this stance as an insult. They believed that the employer was obviously stingy. More to the point he felt uncomfortable with bargaining with his future employer.
Here the employer tried on the take it or leave it negotiation technique.. However this left them no place to move if their bluff was called. The point is that both parties were too closely connected to the negotiating process.
We negotiate on behalf of employers and employees every day. Of course the employer pays the bill at the end of the day for our services, so we want to make the deal work. However if one person is popping champagne, and the other person resentful, it wont take long after the ink has dried before that deal falls apart.
Our job is to find that middle ground where both parties are happy. Sure sometimes there is no middle ground. But many times there is. Salary is such an emotional discussion. It smacks right at the root of most people’s sense of self worth. That is why it needs to handled professionally and unemotionally.
A third party negotiator’s role is to bring back the decision making process to a less volatile discussion. This results in better hiring decisions and happier long term employees.