Going For The Gold: Working Out The Salary

Timing is almost everything when it comes to working out the perfect salary. You shouldn’t start too soon?but you shouldn’t wait too long, either. The best time is when both parties are somewhat serious: usually at the end of the first interview or just before the second interview. If you wait until the offer stage to settle the details, it’s too late. By then, the candidate will know he’s the finalist?and this gives him the upper hand. But if you talk about salary too soon, before you and the candidate know each other, it creates an awkward situation. Then it often becomes just a yes/no filter to determine if each party wants to proceed. This precludes the chance of any trade-offs, and often turns into a classic case of missed opportunities on both sides. I suggest developing the framework for an offer package early in the assessment process?and in small steps. The process becomes smooth and virtually painless this way. It minimizes the awkwardness of the typical negotiating session, when you put everything on the table at the end. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> This gradual approach also gives the candidate the perception of a stronger negotiating position: the key is to get concessions along the way, when you still have leverage and something to offer. You can negotiate pieces of the complete offer this way ? and test sincere interest at each step. You can be assessing the candidate’s competency at the same time as you’re recruiting them and closing the deal. If you don’t know a candidate’s salary history, ask before you invite her back for a second interview. If it looks too high or leaves you little room to maneuver, state your concerns immediately?and ask how serious an issue this is. You can also state your own salary range and say that you hope this fits in with the candidate’s needs. In either case, any balking at this point is a good clue that you may be coming in too low. A little probing helps. Keep your options open?and do your best to get the candidate to come back in for a second interview. If the candidate agrees to come back, you know you’ve just established the condition of a potential offer. Use each subsequent interview session to gain more information and commitment. If you sense sincere interest after the second interview, mention to the candidate what still needs to happen before you get to an offer. This could be a background and reference check, testing, even a medical exam to insure a drug-free workplace. When candidates accepts these conditions, you have a pretty good idea of their degree of interest?even if a final salary package hasn’t been agreed on or even fully discussed. And you’ve laid the groundwork for a mutually profitable working relationship?which, after all, is the name of the game…

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Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


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