Why Do They Always Get a Raise Right Before the Offer?

Why is it that candidates ALWAYS seem to get a review, raise, additional responsibilities right before your client is about to make them an offer?

Alright, it doesn’t ALWAYS happen. As recruiters we tend to exaggerate just a bit, but it happened this last week to not one, but to two recruiters I know and have great respect for, and it drives me mad when I hear this.

This should never happen.

We, as third party search professionals, shouldn’t let it happen.

I have a rather simple strategy for keeping the incidence of this occurring with my candidates to a minimum, and it is something every recruiter knows they should do, but sometimes just forget or get lazy about doing.

Right after I cover a candidate’s work history, just before I am about to get to the meat of my interview with them, where I want to know how they have made a bottom line difference for their organization by how they made money, saved money or changed a process that did one or both of these things, I go through a quick salary history review.

And it is quick. By doing it fast, they don’t have time to “create,” and I am more likely to get the just the facts.

Usually I start three jobs back, and I ask what they started at, what they ended at while in that job.

Next job back, their starting salary, when they got their last raise, how much it was, and what it took them too. Plus whatever bonus opportunities, or anything else they had that would show up on their W-2.

With the job they are in now, I ask them what they what hired at, have them break it down to each W-2 component. Then I ask them to very methodically tell me about every raise or salary and/or bonus adjustment that brings them to what their current comp package is as we speak. I also ask if there is any bonus money that has been earned but not yet paid out, IF, IF, that seems to be the case, as it sometimes is with delayed bonus payouts commonly used today by employers.

I am not done yet.



Views: 146

Comment by mk on February 2, 2010 at 11:49am
A company I worked for required, as part of the background check after an offer was made, a copy of the most recent pay stub from a current employer. It was used to verify current employment, but I always advised candidates upfront that a copy of pay stub would be required as part of the background check. THAT eliminated any last minute pay increases. : )
Comment by Randy Levinson on February 2, 2010 at 12:25pm
Jeff, as third party recruiters we need to be the foremost expert on the candidate. Yet they still tend to balk at any discussion (at least in Silicon Valley) on salary until they are really pressed. They don't seem to make the distinction between us and the employers so it can be like pulling teeth. What I like to do is start where your blog continues this article. I ask about their next expected raise (or if they don't expect it). Then we talk about where that will bring them in total comp, then break it down by each component then backtrack to their hire date and previous jobs. This gets them to start off with a number they are comfortable with, then boast though the backtracking on how far they have come.

The last thing I work with the candidate on is 3 numbers. The "don't bother making the offer", the "let me think about it" and the "no brainer". When we agree on those numbers I can better represent them to the client and deal honestly with both parties while maintaining a negotiable position to them as well.
Comment by Jeff Skrentny, CERS on February 2, 2010 at 12:25pm
Sounds like a fine step in the salary history process to me, but rather late in the process.

Why wait until an offer has already been made? Awkward moment to discover a problem, lie or misrepresentation of salary once the offer has already been made by a client. Yikes, I don't want that kind of egg on my face. I am suppose to keep problems like this from happening, not discover them when it is too late.

We ask for the last W-2 with our Candidate Assessment Questionnaire (CAQ) which we need completed BEFORE we will even interview a candidate. But even with this pay stub or W-2, the details and information garnered with the approach outlined above, especially as compared to time needed to invest in getting this done, makes it a no brainer for me. The ROI just can't be ignored, and pays dividends and keeps errors from happening much earlier in our process.
Comment by Jason Elkin on February 2, 2010 at 2:38pm
Hi Jeff,

Thanks for writing this. For some time I thought that these types of 11th hour issues were a special joke that the universe was playing just on me.

The solution that I developed was in two parts:

1. Ask about the review and promotion process at the candidate's current gig. It's quite a bit more difficult to sell a promotion or raise if they have already told you that the company they work for does reviews in Dec and you are talking to them in July.

2. I input the process data for reviews, raises and promotions into a master Company file. It helps me with business development down the road and also allows me to fact check what the latest candidate from that company is telling me.

Most candidates will stop trying to "sell" you if they know that you've spoken to a few people at the company they work for in the past, and have a decent knowledge about the review/raise/promotion process.
Comment by Jeff Skrentny, CERS on February 2, 2010 at 3:01pm
Great input Randy and Jason.

Randy, I like how your begin in the middle with salary history...NICE TWIST! Almost cinematic. Here in the midwest, I don't find much push back on the chronological approach. What I like about what you have done, is you take a best practice that really can't be ignored for us to do our craft well, and tweaked it to work for your market and your candidates.

Jason, I like the addition of the information in a master file for the company...nice extension use of the data that could be come very relevant at a later date in your practice as you work with additional candidates from the same employer. I like the way you think.

Finally, Randy, my post was JUST about getting salary history, I did not want to delve into negotiating when an offer seems in the making...but I will say that your three numbers are my three critical data inflection points, points that every third party search pro MUST have to close a deal intelligently. At least that is how I have always worked my desk and my deals.
Comment by Shari Burke on February 2, 2010 at 3:10pm
I understand getting all of their current info up front, but I don't see that stopping their current employer countering with a substantial offer. Even when I have said, "Why have they not done that before if they thought you were so valuable." Many times they would rather stay where they are familiar with and they got their raise. Occasionally they are just really unhappy where they are and nothing will keep them there, but I don't find that to be the case very often. If they are miserable, they usually have one leg out the door and the company could not offer them enough to stay.
Comment by Jeff Skrentny, CERS on February 2, 2010 at 3:18pm
Shari, counteroffers are a whole different can O worms...whole different.

A complete salary history is just ONE, SMALL step to minimize exposure to them. And even when one uses the whole process we recommend in our Torpedoing Counteroffers training:


the fear of change is a powerful motivator for one to decide against moving and accepting the counteroffer.

It is material for a separate post, and I have already scheduled to address it in the very near future. But let's be candid, isn't it nice to have this challenge to deal with again...means clients are making offers and candidates are considering them once again.


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