Negotiating – A Recruiter’s Take on Employers

By: Elias Cobb, National Recruiting Manager

Having been in the recruiting business for almost 16 years now, I’ve seen literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of offer negotiations go on.  I’ve also seen many, many blogs advising candidates on how to best negotiate with companies, and the things they must keep in mind.  I have a different take in this post; here’s what I have seen from employers – what works, and what really, really doesn’t!

First and foremost:  Make the offer in a timely fashion!  Perhaps the biggest reason I see candidates take other jobs is that the company took literally days and sometimes weeks to actually put together an offer.  Oh I understand, sometimes there are approvals and other things in the way.  How about clearing some of those up as you are in the final interview stages?  And I’ve seen it take 7-10 days (or more) just to generate an offer letter!!  Really?  Here’s what happens:  Sometimes the candidates gets another offer because it took too long.  Of course, if you’d moved a little faster, you might have gotten the candidate to accept your job.  But often times when the other offer comes in, it isn’t even that much better, or not better at all, than the original company’s offer.  But the candidate feels that the OTHER company wants him or her more because they moved faster.  When you drag your feet, you are basically telling the candidate “You aren’t that important.  We’ll get to you when we’re good and ready, and on OUR timeline, not YOURS.”  Not a good impression to put out there.

Secondly, the money.  I’ve seen so many negotiations start off with the client offering $5,000 less than what the candidate is asking.  I’ve literally seen many, many candidates turn down offers because the offer came in $5K too low.  My question for the hiring manager is this:  Is “winning” the negotiation that important to you?  If your budget really can’t go up $5K, ok (seems suspicious, though).  But is losing a candidate whom you like worth the $416/month?  You know that $400/month means a LOT more to an individual than it does to a corporation.  And in these days of highly competitive offers for IT talent, is it worth losing this candidate so you can feel like you won the negotiation?  And even if the candidate accepts the offer, they may start the job with a bad taste in their mouth about the offer.  Here’s a revolutionary idea:  Offer the candidate a couple thousand dollars more than what he or she is asking for!  How much goodwill and positive feelings are you buying by doing that?  That’s also showing the candidate that you really want them on your team!  Of course this is all subject to your needs, and how much you really do want that candidate on your team.

Third, and finally, I think many hiring managers aren’t keeping a few things in mind right now:  It’s a candidate market in IT.  Unemployment in IT is quite low right now, especially for developers.  Hiring managers need to understand the market, their limitations as far as competitive salary and benefits, and adjust their expectations and offer negotiations accordingly.  To build on that a little, even if you’re not hiring for one of the uber-competitive roles, understand your company benefits and salary may not be the best out there.  You need to do some research on what the market will bear, and if you’re not at that level, don’t expect to hire the best of the best.  And last but definitely not least, treat the candidates as you’d want to be treated!  It seems like sometimes hiring managers get into their position and then completely forget what it was like to look for a job.

Let’s treat each other like human beings and with some respect and compassion, and remember that not everything can be boiled down to a number on paper!

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