How to Ensure Top Talent Won’t Ever Turn Down Your Salary Offer

Perks and benefits add value to a job, and top talent has been vying for the companies that offer the best “extra little something” over the past few years. However, you’re fooling yourself if you think that an endless selection of K-cups in the break room will detract from lackluster salaries.

Compensation is still a major factor that attracts talent. If the money isn’t there, the best candidates will never accept your job offer.

In fact, we recently released our  2018 Best Places to Work Report. It found that 81 percent of respondents believe competitive compensation contributes to their high level of job satisfaction.

But for most organizations, this poses a problem.

In an ideal world, companies could pay their employees exactly what they want. In reality, there are budgets that have to be maintained. There really is no “magic number.” Yet salary becomes more fair and attractive to top talent when the offer is made with their best interest in mind.

Knowing what to offer potential employees isn’t always easy. But by following these tips, you can make offers to top talent that is eager to accept, and build a team of the best and most loyal employees:

Fly That Salary Like a Flag

Imagine the hiring process from a job seeker’s perspective. There’s a lot of work involved. They have to customize their resume and cover letters and set aside time for multiple interviews. Applying to work for a company is a commitment.

No one wants to waste that much time and energy when there’s no information about compensation in the job listing. So, list the salary for your open position in your job advertisements. Simply saying “salary is competitive” isn’t enough.

Be transparent about what you’re prepared to offer potential employees. Even if you can only offer salaries slightly lower than the industry standard, tell applicants up front. This way, you’ll know that the applications you receive are from people who are truly excited about your mission and values.

Lay Out Clear Criteria for Salary Scales

Salary decisions are never arbitrary. You have a formula based on the responsibilities of the position and the skills of the candidate to determine what you can offer. But job candidates want to know where salary offers come from. In fact, in a 2017 PayScale report, 82 percent of employees said they were fine receiving a lower salary as long as they knew the reasons why.

During the interview process, explain to candidates precisely how their salary will be decided. You can even show them the resumes and offers of current employees — with the names redacted — so they can see how different skills and experiences equate to different offers.

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Show Them the Path to Salary Increases

Sometimes a candidate is a perfect cultural fit and truly excited to work for the company, but they lack the experience you’d prefer for the position. You want to give them a chance but need to lower your salary offer. If you can explain to the candidate how you plan to get them to the next level and in what timeframe, they’re more likely to accept the lower offer.

Start by showing them how training works within the company. Let them know what options are available and how new skills will impact their career. From there, explain how promotions and raises work at the company. The more details you can give the better.

This will get them excited about their future with the company. In fact, our aforementioned survey found that 51 percent of respondents said the promotion structure of their company gave them the most job satisfaction.

It can also be helpful to have candidates sit down with a current employee who has moved up the ladder. Let the two of them talk — alone — so the candidate can openly raise their questions or concerns. Getting genuine answers from someone who started in a similar situation will help them understand why the salary is a fair offer.

Salary offers can be tricky. Don’t give up when you cannot find that magic number that satisfies everyone. Just make more genuine and transparent offers.


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10 Comments on “How to Ensure Top Talent Won’t Ever Turn Down Your Salary Offer

  1. I’d love this, but I have yet to find a company willing to be transparent about salary. A great follow up would be getting mindshare from leadership for pay transparency.

    1. Hi Steph! Companies are continuously working on transparency as more and more job seekers express its importance. This is a great idea for a follow-up article and I’m putting it in the works. Stay tuned!

    2. Problem is, ma’am, that most employers won’t share this info, but will waste your time, and there’s, which makes no sense to me.

  2. How does the job seeker effectively glean the salary, without sounding like a money-hungry fiend.

    1. Hi Melissa! Having a conversation about salary can be uncomfortable. But remember, especially as a salesperson, pay structure is a key component of the job and hiring pros understand this. Start the discussion by asking questions about commission structure and typical percent of quota attainment. These questions get recruiters and hiring managers on the topic of pay structures, opening the window for an easier transition into a pure salary conversation.

      1. Hi Karyn. I’m usually not a fan of disclosing salary information up front, but I have done it with success for sales roles. It’s best to give an idea of what the total target earnings should be without revealing the actual commission structure. Competitors seek out this information and will use it. This gives the candidates an idea of the job’s potential without hurting your competitive advantage.

        1. Great advice, Jf! Sales recruiters and leaders are always looking for that balance, and offering an idea without total commission structure is a positive and impactful way to go about it.

  3. Having wasted precious time on go nowhere interviews, I now insist on the compensation range up front and early on, especially during the initial phone screening and/or application process. If the employer gets butt-hurt, is evasive, or side steps the issue with the “how much are you looking for” question, I just move on.

  4. There’s no doubt that you get better application and email response rates, but I can understand why companies are reluctant to do this. Disclosing the salary, especially in a job posting, can hurt your competitive advantage when you’re bidding on work. To avoid wasting time on interviews, give the company an idea of what you’re looking for. If you’re worried about getting taken advantage of, do your research and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Employers don’t always know what the market rates are.

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