Congratulations, you’re about to extend an offer to your job candidate; it’s been a long journey from when you first contacted your candidate. To ensure that the offer is a smooth transition in the overall recruitment process incorporate the following four steps:
1. Begin with the end in mind
2. Set the tone
3. Be prepared
4. Always be in control
Begin with the end in mind. The salary negotiation process begins with the first conversation you have with the candidate, during the phone screening. A typical phone screen lasts 30 minutes. This beginning conversation should evolve around what skills the candidate has, how their skills can benefit the company, how our role can benefit the candidate career and what is the candidate salary history along with their salary goals.
Set the tone. By beginning with the end in mind you are also setting the tone. You are letting the candidate know that the end goal is to get him/her to the offer letter stage. Your tone throughout the recruitment process should be clear-cut, transitory, pleasant and professional. By setting and maintaining the tone the candidate will follow suite. Keep the tone positive by informing your candidate exactly how the interview process will go. Let the candidate know how long the interviews will last, how many people will they meet and what types of questions should they be expecting. Leaving the candidate in the dark will show either aggression or lack of interest on your part.
Before starting your phone screen you might begin the conversation in a similar manner as, “This call should last approximately twenty to thirty minutes. I’m just going to ask a few high-level questions that human resource and the hiring manager would like for me to ask.” You are setting time expectations for both of you to keep and shifting the questions away from you needing the answers to H.R. and the hiring manager needing you to gather the data for them. By shifting the need for information directly away from you the candidate might feel a little more comfortable in discussing uncomfortable topics such as salary.
Be prepared. Be prepared to answer any questions the candidate may have. Have all necessary information at hand. Important information might include selling points for joining the company and/or department. Know what is the salary range, bonus figures, commission structure and any other financial parameters associated with the role that you are looking to fill. Have all necessary documents on hand such as phone screen form, interviewing forms, access to resumes and benefit information.
Expect the unexpected and be prepared to have a strategy for end stage negotiations with counter-offers, requests for hiring salaries, more vacation, time off before or shortly after starting a new job, issues with titles, drug test and background check failures.
If your candidate receives a counter-offer, you would be wise to educate them on why their employer gave them a counter-offer, which is to keep them a little while longer as they look for their replacement. Do NOT engage in the counter-offer wars. Give your candidate 24 hours to reconsider your offer or to accept their counter-offer. Do not give the candidate any more time than 24 hours as then the control will be shifted away from you. Your company has no desire to engage in a tug-of-war with another company for any candidate, no matter how valuable their skills may be.
Be prepared with a plan B candidate and/or sourcing strategy in case your candidate does not accept the offer or fails a drug test or background check. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and have to start from scratch if your desired candidate suddenly drops out of the running at the last minute.
Always be in control. Control in this case does not mean ‘having the upper hand’ or engaging in ‘power-play’ but rather guiding the candidate and watching out for red flags.
The candidate needs to know that you have their best interest at heart and that you are the one controlling the interview process from beginning to end… not the candidate and not the hiring manager. Sometimes a candidate will reach out to the hiring manager while bypassing the recruiter. You will need to inform your manager’s up front that if this happens they need to forward the call, email or communication to recruitment. On more than one occasion I have seen where the manager engages in the candidate’s communication and it back-fires on them in the name of harassment. Suddenly the manager finds they are receiving multiple, daily or weekly communication from the now, un-desired candidate. If the candidate communicates with the manager without involving recruitment, gently inform the candidate that all communication must flow through recruitment. Management does not have the time to communicate with candidates outside of the scheduled interview.
Control the process by driving the conversations. Sometimes a nervous candidate might chatter on and on when answering a simple question. Kindly stop them once you have your information and let them know that due to time constraints you must move on to the next question. Don’t hop-scotch around with the conversation, start with very simple questions such as verifying where they reside, why they applied, what is their current salary, what salary do they desire, and move towards the skills based questions.
Make the salary question one of the first to ask. There is no need to waste time if you are too far off from the salary range assigned for the role. On occasion a candidate may blanch at having to reveal their current salary but will gladly reveal what they are looking to get paid in their next role. Inform the candidate why you need this information also letting them know that once they reveal their current salary you will share your salary range. If they ask for you to first reveal your salary range… don’t; keep the control. To put the candidate at ease you could explain to them how your salary process works, i.e. when it is time to put together an offer the H.R. team reviews the candidate skills, their salary request and the skills/salaries of current team members before confirming an offer figure. Sometimes the candidate will reveal what they are currently earning and say they are flexible in regards to their next salary; this is an acceptable response at which point you can inform them of your process to come up with an offer figure. Many candidates think a company will use their salary information against them to come up with a lower figure but that simply isn’t the case, it is the recruiter’s job to educate the candidate on the offer process and how you come up with a figure. Also, many candidates feel that if they are earning too much money the company will not consider them for a lower paying role, again that is not the case especially if they have a good reason for applying such as wanting to gain skills for a different field or wanting to leave a very small company to a global one where they will work on larger, more complicated projects. The beginning salary discussion and motivation around it are critical to end stage negotiations.
By plugging in this four-step process your offer extension will be a whiz-bang, congratulatory, win-win success!