Master The Art of Salary Negotiations

by Modis on June 26, 2015

Almost every job seeker is told at one time or another to negotiate when considering a job offer—a common perspective is that candidates should always ask for more. As a hiring manager, recruiter or HR leader, you need to be prepared with a solid response.

At a minimum, you need to be authentic. You should always study your competition to know what top performers are earning. You should always meet your candidates’ perspectives with respect and hear their cases for higher salary. And most importantly, you should put your best package on the table.

Here’s how to stay competitive in today’s negotiation-driven job market.

Be Data Driven

Working with a trusted staffing partner or with a tool like LinkedIn will help you learn what professionals are being paid. Rather than focusing on an average or a select few numbers, study the full range—know that factors are affecting the variance in the numbers that you see. Focus on creating a story from data so that you can understand your company’s unique positioning. From there, figure out what it takes to create the best possible compensation package.

Approach Recruiting like a Researcher

Rely on the interviewing process to learn what top candidates expect to earn. In addition to requesting current salary levels, ask job-seekers to suggest some numbers and compensation ideas.

Instead of asking a point-blank question and seeking a point-blank answer, use this opportunity to create a dialogue. Ask your candidates to explain why they have recommended a certain compensation level. Be genuine about your intentions to learn, and always be respectful.

Be Empathetic

When it comes to hiring, there’s a tendency among companies to forget their manners—which is understandable, given that recruiters are often buried under piles of resumes.

Despite these heavy workloads, top performers have little tolerance for slip-ups, disorganization and behavior that can be misinterpreted as disrespectful. In other words, you need to show that your company cares, every step of the way.

Empathy means treating salary discussions as open dialogues. Empower top performers to self-direct their career paths by asking questions and taking responses to heart.

Assess Salaries Individually

Each candidate brings a unique set of skills and experience to the table, which makes salaries challenging to standardize. In addition to leveraging data from step one, you should also take the time to assess your prospective hire’s personal capabilities. He or she may be worth $20k, $30k or even $40k over your industry’s norm.

What you need to do is ask for your candidate’s experience. Ask each person to quantify the value that he or she contributed previously—preferably, in terms of dollars contributed or saved. A person who can save your company $7M with a unique, handcrafted solution is undeniably worth a $40k salary bump.

Don’t Be Closed-Ended

Top candidates, at any given time, have an open ticket to work anywhere. For that reason, it’s easier to say “no” than “yes” to an unimpressive offer.

When presenting your counteroffer, keep the discussion open. The simple question “what do you think?” could make a world of difference to your candidate’s perspective. Plus, it gives him or her the opportunity to speak freely. If you are too rigid, candidates may misconstrue your actions as closed-ended. Rest assured, they’ll take your offer to another prospective employer or competitor if they feel there is no room for discussion.

Deciding on the Final Salary

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Top performers are driven by empowerment—not scare tactics. Treat your candidates with the same level of patience and respect as you would your best customers. The ultimate goal is to hire employees who can help your business succeed. Having the right salary in mind is the first step to finding top talent. Check out our latest salary guide to get prepared for your next salary negotiation.

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