A Penny for Your Thoughts on the Recruiter’s Approach to Negotiating Pay

Most of us follow the mindset of “we work to live, not live to work.” We hope to enjoy what we do, but we also hope to be compensated well so we can balance our jobs with hobbies and personal lives. Despite this logic, pay negotiations and compensation packages are routinely one of the weakest areas of communications between employers and employees.

The goal of wage negotiations is to walk away from the table with both employer and employee feeling content on the terms that were created. There will be some wins and some loses, but there should never be a sense that someone was cheated or treated unfairly. It’s important to switch between seeing the hiring process from an employer’s perspective and an employee’s perspective during negotiations to achieve this balance. When a recruiter finds an ideal job candidate for one of their clients there are three things they should focus on to improve their pay negotiations: market value, a compensation range, and the candidate’s needs.

1. Know Your Market. A good recruiter wouldn’t throw a job candidate into the interview ring without doing research on an applicant’s background. The same goes that you should study a job market before jumping into wage negotiations with a candidate. Size up the job pool for how many other similar opportunities are available in the local area, especially with your biggest competitors. This gives you insight into what a potential job candidate is also considering with their next career move. It also will give you an impression on the sense of urgency with which to pace negotiations.In addition to knowing the saturation of the hiring market you’ll also want to find the median pay range for specific positions. You can be sure that a top candidate will know what the average hourly wage is for their position. Tools like Salary.com and Payscale.com can benefit both employers and employees in this market research. Keep in mind that market value also correlates to location. A tech job pays a lot more in San Francisco than does in Orlando, Fla., so don’t be afraid to point the facts on salaries during negotiations.

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2. Set A Range. Every job candidate goes into an interview with a predetermined minimum compensation in mind but most will resist stating an actual figure early on in negotiations for fear of limiting their potential for growth. Rephrase the question for their minimum acceptable wages and ask for a range. It takes the pressure off and if a recruiter did their homework they can easily see how the candidate’s range matches up to the market price’s range for the position.

3. Build The Relationship. Get to know the candidate’s needs in all aspects of the position. This is really the meat of the strategy for pay negotiations. It can be the hardest part to master too. If you can’t meet a candidates requirements reflect on what other elements of the job are important to them. Could more vacation days or faster access to paid holiday time make them feel compensated fairly? Could a position include benefits like gym access or tuition aid that would in the long run more than cover the difference in the pay range? Understanding what motivates an employee to work is invaluable and with wage negotiations it’s possible to discern that before you’ve ever even seen them on the job.

Job negotiations, especially concerning fiscal compensation, will always impact the future of a working relationship. Poor communication skills can lead to discontent for hired candidates and undermine their performance at work and their trust in a recruiter in the long run. This is why it’s so important to take the time to always include the above three building blocks for pay negotiations into the interview process. Even if it’s not possible to come to agreements with a candidate on the compensation for a position, the odds are better that a working relationship can be kept intact to leave opportunities open in the future.

MORE: What you need to know about gender bias in tech recruiting

John Giaimo

John Giaimo
John Giaimo is president of Software Resources Inc., an IT Staffing Solutions firm. Founded in 1992, Software Resources is a certified women-owned business enterprise (WBE), and is a national award-winning staffing firm serving clients in the U.S.

John Giaimo

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