Salary Negotiation: What to Do When a Candidate Counters

Salary negotiation tips

Great news! You expect your top candidate to accept your job offer. But don’t draw up the paperwork yet. A little salary negotiation may be needed first.

Job seekers in top demand may have more than one offer on the table, and with more pay. They’re also likely to be armed with salary information and salary negotiation tips from an abundance of online resources. If you want to reach a fair deal, you need to be equally prepared. Here are some salary negotiation tips:

Decide how far you’re willing to go

If the candidate suggests a higher figure than you’ve offered, you can choose to raise the amount of your proposal or stick to your guns. If the candidate keeps pushing, whether you want to exceed the established range generally depends on two factors: how badly you want the person and the policies and precedents in your company.

Ask yourself three questions before you start promising the moon:

1. Are other, equally qualified candidates available if the applicant says no? If the answer is yes, the leverage rests with the company.

2. Has the job been particularly hard to fill, or are market conditions making finding and recruiting suitable candidates difficult? If the answer to either question is yes, the leverage rests with the candidate.

3. Will a stronger offer be significantly out of line with existing pay levels for comparable positions in your company or hiring manager’s department? The spirit of teamwork and fairness can take a hit if you don’t maintain a reasonable degree of internal equity in compensation levels.

Think creatively

If you’re not able to match the candidate’s salary request, consider salary negotiation tips around expanding different components of the package. Applicants often are willing to compromise on base compensation if concessions are made in other areas.

Offering flexible work arrangements, for example, is one candidate-pleasing option that will cost you little to nothing. Providing additional time off or telecommuting options may also be acceptable to the candidate in lieu of higher wages. Also, consider a signing bonus after a specified time period.

Know when to draw the line

Some human resources experts insist you shouldn’t push too hard if a candidate clearly isn’t interested in the job unless offered a higher salary. Probing a bit to find out if there are also other reasons she is being hesitant isn’t a bad idea, though. If it’s not entirely the salary, try to identify the source of the problem and make reasonable accommodations.

But don’t get so caught up in negotiations that you lose sight of what’s appropriate for your organization. Sometimes you just have to walk away. If your attempts to woo a reluctant candidate fall short, the best thing to do in many cases is to cut your losses and look somewhere else. 

If a promising candidate does accept your final offer, congratulate yourself! You’re helping to build a strong team for your business. And help other managers by sharing your salary negotiation tips in the comments section below.

Tags: Hiring, Salary