How to Navigate Salary Negotiations During the Hiring Process

After running the gauntlet of the interview process, you’ve finally found the perfect candidate. You know you’re going to start salary negotiations at some point—and the candidate might not be the only one who is nervous about it.

Negotiation is a delicate part of the B2B recruiting process. You want to hire great talent, but what if they have unrealistic salary expectations? On the other hand, you don’t want to lowball a candidate with a salary offer your competitors can easily beat. A little haggling is to be expected. But how do you prepare yourself for it and make sure everyone walks away happy? 

The Right Approach to Salary Negotiations

Of course, you have a budget and can’t offer every candidate the highest possible salary on the market. But remember: your goal is not to offer the lowest possible salary that you can. The perfect salary offer should make the candidate feel valued and inspired to join your company.

As with many things, it’s all about going in prepared and finding a balance. Here are some of our tips for achieving that balance.

Before Negotiations

This is as important a time as the negotiations themselves. Beginning with a solid game plan will make it that much easier for yourself and the candidate once things get down to brass tacks.

Establish a salary range.

Consider the level of the position you’re hiring for, the expertise required, and the salary you currently pay employees in that role. Then, look beyond your own company and see what salaries other companies in your space are offering for the same position.

Knowing the market value of the position will help you establish a salary range for the position. The last thing you want is to make an offer and learn that it’s nowhere near the number your competitors are offering for the same job.

Establish non-negotiables. 

Make this clear from the get-go. You don’t want to mislead a candidate by pretending the salary is malleable if it’s actually set in stone. The same goes with the benefits package. If you aren’t willing to budge, let them know ASAP so there are no nasty surprises later in the process. If they accept the offer, this process just became super easy. If not, you’re free to move on to other candidates sooner than you would be if unsuccessful bargaining took place.

Offer an enticing benefits package.

While the salary number gets the most attention, your benefits package can make or break your hiring process. Time off, work from home policies, insurance packages, and other benefits are increasingly important to modern candidates. Be ready to discuss these benefits alongside the salary to give the candidate a comprehensive understanding of what you’re offering them.

During Negotiations

After you get the ball rolling with your initial offer, there’s more work to be done.

Be upfront with your salary offer.

Many recruiters make the mistake of playing “chicken” with candidates. In other words: they offer a low salary and then increase the offer if the candidate asks for more. They’re hoping, of course, that the candidate will bite on the lowball offer.

This is the worst way to start a salary negotiation. It’ll most often accomplish nothing but making the candidates feel insulted. At worst, you’ll lose a great candidate for good. Make a fair offer, know your range, and explain how you settled on that specific number.

Listen to their counteroffer. 

And we mean truly listen. Candidates likely have a good reason for suggesting a specific salary. When giving some thought as to whether they’re worth the investment, ask yourself the following:

Know your limits.

Recognize when a counteroffer is simply too high. No matter how qualified they may be, you’ll set an unsustainable precedent if you greatly exceed your pre-established salary range.

Keep in mind that negotiations aren’t about winning. At this stage, you want to start building a mutually beneficial relationship with the prospective employee. The goal, other than having them accept the offer, is to make sure everyone walks away feeling satisfied about the salary they’ve agreed on. Playing to win will more often than not makes you the loser when it comes to the hiring process.

After Negotiations

At this point, you’re almost in the clear. But you can’t rest on your laurels quite yet. 

Give them time to think. 

Accepting a new job is a major step, even if it comes with a great new salary. Even if you want to fill the position quickly, don’t rush the candidate. Give them a few days to think about the offer, weigh their options, and come back with any concerns or questions.

Stay connected.

Assuming they’re giving the customary two weeks’ notice at their current job, there’ll be some time left before they join your team. Stay in contact during this period to let them know that they haven’t fallen off your radar. Offer yourself up as a point person in case any questions come up, and they’ll feel valued before they set foot in the office for their first day.

Use what you’ve learned.

If you went through a particularly trying negotiation process, use the knowledge you’ve gained to inform future hiring processes! What could you have done differently? Where did things start to fall apart? This goes for negotiations that went successfully, as well. 

Key Takeaways on Salary Negotiations

There’s much more to negotiating a salary than talking about pure numbers. Any potential employee will want to feel valued, heard, and appreciated. You can do all of this and more during the negotiation process, and hopefully by the end of it you’ll have added a crucial new member to your team!

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn more about improving your B2B recruiting efforts. Our business database is the tool you need for more informed hiring decisions.

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