Hiring Managers - pay attention to salary requirements

This blog, the first of a two part series, focuses on candidate salary requirements and what employers need to consider before they make an (attractive) offer. Part two will concentrate on job seekers and handling salary issues once an employer makes an offer.

Here’s a situation that we hope isn’t becoming a trend.  A highly qualified candidate provides her salary requirements to the recruiter before being submitted to the client.  The IT recruiter submits the candidate and communicates the salary requirements to the client.  The client company is very interested in meeting her, and the interview process goes smoothly.  The candidate is excited about the opportunity and believes the company will make her an offer.  But then she received the news from her recruiter.

The company extended an offer, but the salary is considerably less than what she requires. The candidate is very disappointed and somewhat perplexed as the company is aware that she has another job offer on the table.  Without hesitation, she declines the low-ball offer and accepts the other one that is within her salary range.

Hiring managers – don’t lose top IT talent by making an offer that they can refuse.  Here are five things to consider before choosing candidates to interview:

  1. Be sure you're aware of each applicant’s salary requirements before you begin the interview process. Know how much you’re prepared to offer if you find the right candidate for the job.  If you’re presented with a qualified applicant who falls outside the salary range, determine whether you may be willing/able to meet the desired salary.  If you cannot, then it’s best to move forward with other candidates. 
  2. As the market continues to improve, IT professionals now have more career options. And as more jobs open up, candidates have the luxury of picking and choosing the right opportunity for them. Perhaps companies could offer lower salaries a year ago because the candidate pool was so big. Candidates didn’t have as many choices, so they were willing to take less.  That’s all changed.  Today, most qualified candidates don’t have to accept an offer that they aren’t thrilled about – because they most likely have or anticipate a better offer.  And if you hired talent at a lower salary during the Great Recession, be prepared to adjust their wages or risk having them jump ship soon.
  3. Beware of the “haggle” factor. Most candidates do not want to go back and forth on negotiating salary with a potential employer.  If the candidate has provided a salary range, she may not mind negotiating a final amount if the offer falls just outside that range. However, coming back with a lower offer sends bad signals, which in turn, can create doubt with the candidate as to whether your opportunity is really the right one. And if your offer is too far off the salary mark, it's likely the candidate won't even try (or want) to negotiate.
  4. Understand why the candidate wants what she wants. Usually, there are factors driving a candidate’s salary requirements such as commute, work from home flexibility, benefits, bonuses, etc.  For example, a candidate might expect $70,000 for a particular position, but since the job will require a longer commute and no bonus potential, she determines anything less than $76,000 will be a deal breaker. Do your best to find out those things that are affecting the candidate’s salary request. If adjusting the salary amount isn’t feasible look at other options that will help make your offer more attractive (i.e. mileage allowance, flex time, telecommute, etc.).
  5. In most instances, an employee has one chance to be satisfied with their salary – and that’s with the first offer you extend. Once a candidate is hired, she can look forward to a yearly raise of three to five percent (if she’s lucky).  Within a few years (if that), she’ll be unhappy and look for other opportunities that pay more. By offering a salary the candidate is happy with up front, the risk of “defection” may be averted.

Pay attention to salary requirements when candidates are submitted, and ensure your company is able to meet those terms (or can at least offer options that will offset the difference in salary) before moving forward in the hiring process.  IT professionals aren’t feeling so desperate that they have to accept “unacceptable” offers.  If you don’t give them what they think they’re worth, another company probably will.  Your company should be asking “What will the cost to our business be if you lose top talent to competitors who are more than happy to pay up?”

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