*I’ve written about salary negotiations before here. I’m not against salary discussions, I actually believe they are very important. So important, in fact, that you should talk money early and often with your recruiter. I get a lot of questions from friends and family about how much they should ask for, or how to counter an offer. I willingly share my thoughts and recently helped a friend get a pretty significant increase over her current salary AND a slightly higher bump to the offer she was originally given. I’m not against salary negotiations. I do, however, have a significant aversion to bullshit.
I don’t believe in negotiating just because you can.
I reject the idea that candidates leave money on the table if they take the first offer.
That’s what I did.
My good buddy and mentor HR Nasty wrote an EXCELLENT must read post about the reality of lowball offers. Simply put, we just don’t make them. Instead of trying to recreate the brilliant article that he’s already put out there, I decided to share my story. A little history – most of you know I joined Microsoft earlier this year. I’ve had a solid run in recruiting, starting in agency and moving to the corporate side a few years ago. I’ve always had a “bucket list” of sorts, a handful of companies I’d like to work for before I die. Even though I loved my job, as I told my husband – “when Microsoft calls YOU ANSWER”. And I’m so glad I did. Just because I’m a recruiter, doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the recruiting process. I had to apply. I went through a recruiter screen followed by an interview loop. I received an offer. I took it.
That’s right – the professional recruiter who some would say should know better took the first offer she was given, and liked it. Here’s why –
I did my homework. I knew going into the process where I “should” be. I talked with other people in similar places in their careers at a lot of different companies. There were no surprises and I never felt that my expectations were unreasonable. A lot of information you’ll find can be somewhat suspect, but it’s still worth at least checking out. The most important thing, at least for me, is that I felt prepared.
I trusted my recruiter. We talked about money pretty early in the process. He knew not only where I was in my current role, but also where I wanted to get to. We had a multiple honest and transparent conversations. I felt very comfortable that, even though my recruiter worked for the company, he cared enough about me and my career goals to make sure I was treated fairly.
I got a solid offer. Remember all that homework I did, and the conversations with my recruiter? Well they paid off, since the offer I got exceeded my expectations. I had a number in mind, and all in, the number was more than met. What more can you ask for?
I was honest with my trusted recruiter. This may not be an issue for the average job seeker, but as a recruiter, it immediately came to my mind. Was I supposed to negotiate? I told the recruiter that I was thrilled with the offer and wanted to accept – BUT – I had to be sure. As a recruiter, was I being tested? Did my new boss expect me to counter? My new recruiter BFF only laughed at me a little and assured me that was not the case. He felt (as I do, when I make an offer) that it was a fair package taking into consideration all the relevant factors. I would have to be an idiot not to accept it immediately.
I am not an idiot.
I jumped on the opportunity and never looked back. I’ve never once wondered if I left money on the table. By accepting a fair and competitive offer at the first pass, I saved everyone a lot of hassle. Now I certainly don’t know all the backstory conversations my recruiter and boss had during my offer process, but I can tell you how it feels as the recruiter making offers. There’s not much I find more frustrating than negotiating with a hiring manager, nailing down a solid offer and delivering it to the candidate - only to have to go BACK to the hiring manager because the candidate is under the (incorrect) assumption that we’re intentionally low-balling. No one wins at that game, and I hate to lose. There are times when negotiating makes sense – in the case of my friend, she was significantly underpaid (one of the reasons she was looking) and was worth, in my opinion, more than the offer she ended up accepting. By taking my advice and stating her case succinctly, professionally, and with data to back it up, she was able to get closer to her target number. She happily accepted and when we did the math, realized just what a huge percentage jump she made. It was a great end to a tricky situation and I’m glad I was able to advise her on smart salary negotiations. It’s just not always necessary.
***This blog originally posted to www.hrnasty.com. Follow him at @HR_Nasty**
Good post, Amy. Especially illustrating when and why someone might need to do some negotiating.
I have a lot of candidates ask about counter offers/negotiating. In general, I have worked throughout the search process to ensure that client and candidate are at the same place in regards to compensation. So, unless something has drastically changed, the offer should be acceptable to them both. Most people that ask seem to have heard or read somewhere that it is part of the "game". The clients I choose to work with aren't into playing games or seeing if someone has the "skills" to negotiate the offer, etc. They are professionals who want to make the best choice to fill their positions.
Thank you Amber! I think a lot of candidates come into the process expecting to be lowballed and so no matter how good an offer is, they still ask for more. That puts me in the awkward space of either saying nope take it or leave it OR going back to the manager and try to negotiate (again). I won't put forth a lowball offer just because I "know" someone's going to negotiate. I just won't do it. I believe in fair offers every time.
This is an important post. I always talk bottom line. I don't want anyone to start playing games. Unless the player is a pro, the gamesmanship looks bad. Most of it looks very bad. Be honest, be upfront from the beginning. Thanks.
Exactly Barb - most people on both sides just plain old suck at negotiating, making an already uncomfortable situation that much worse. Thanks for commenting!
Amy, I sincerely appreciate this post. My father used to say, "try to avoid coming through the door swinging." You have proven it's possible.
Thank you Chris! Your dad is a smart man :) I just didn't feel the need to negotiate for negotiation's sake... the offer was beyond what I hoped, and certainly higher than the private number I had in my head... why not jump all over a good (no, GREAT) thing and just be happy about it?
Amy.....I think you're great but not everyone sees the world through "Amy" eyes.
Awww....and they're so purty.
Folks coming from other cultures treat the act of negotiating (Bargaining or haggling) as part of the process.
There's also dickering.....which is the petty/negative version. We dont like dickerers
I think it's helpful when you know who your candidate is, and where they come from.
"Negotiating" is part personality. Some candidates will accept everything at face value. Others won't.
Personalities will also determine if there's any negotiating and its outcome.
Add that candidates are not as educated or trust the process like you do.
Here's the other thing: your offer was a higher (much higher?) than what you wanted, so the need to negotiate was obviated.
Love the hair. :)
Thanks Daren. :)
Maybe this is the "paradigm shift" recruiting really needs? Why is it so hard to just be honest? I've been recruiting this way for years (long before joining my current company) and it's worked pretty well so far. I'm not going to start trying to manipulate people / the process now. As far as negotiations go - I'm happy to negotiate all the way through the process. Once we have a final / formal offer, we should already know what a winning number is.
My view is very jaded. I know of too many people not being paid (including me) for services rendered.
So we are naturally suspect based on experience. As much as I want to believe everyone works to do what's right, many do not.
Why do you think companies like Walmart fight to keep unions away?
Why some states create "right to work" laws?
Employment agreements that call for meditation over lawsuits?
These are not the actions of companies wanting to "do the right thing".
And did they not tell you the Microsoft 'permatemp' issues that they created for themselves by NOT doing the right thing? I'm sure it was covered during orientation over at Bill and Melinda's, right? ;)
I get it Daren. I think we're all jaded re: different things and in different ways. :) I've only been here since February, so I'm sure I have a lot to learn about Microsoft. What I do know (and my point on the show) is I can only control myself and how I choose to work this process. I won't lie, I won't lowball. Period. If other recruiters do, or other companies encourage it, so be it. It's not my reality (thank goodness).