As I was reading through recruiting articles today, I came across one that I felt compelled to write a counter piece on. Today, cnn.com released a piece called, ‘Got a job offer? Now it’s time to negotiate”. The article starts off on par, stating facts about the great resignation. Millions of people are quitting their jobs and looking for something bigger and better; but it’s where it goes next that I found a bit puzzling. The article had a hard and fast view on how to negotiate, the point of view seems to put the candidate firmly in the driver’s seat. However, coming from the view of a recruiter AND a business owner, I think that advice is very off base.
First and foremost I should say that when it comes to recruiting and hiring every industry is different. What may work in getting a job at a local restaurant won’t work landing an engineering gig at Apple. Taking blanket advice that says “drive your offer number up at the end” could result in you losing your dream job or starting out with a bad taste in your mouth and your employer.
If you are applying to a high tech-firm that has money to burn, then you’re more likely to ask for a higher salary. Often companies who pay these crazy salaries are not budgeting appropriately, putting themselves at a higher risk of going out of business. If you are applying to a small company, a non-profit, or a startup; consider that their budgets may not be the same as a mega-corporation. They will likely have a maximum base number that they can’t go above no matter how much they like you. If you keep your numbers close to your chest in that instance, how can you be sure you aren’t wasting everyone’s time?
This is a candidate-driven market – but does that mean that you should gouge potential employers for your short-term gain? Instead, challenge yourself to understand that companies are also facing financial challenges and that it is important to look at the offer proposition from both sides. The way that we advise our candidates to approach their job search is to know their value. While some people may not share where they are in compensation (although that tends to be a good gauge of industry value) it’s key to be willing to share what you want. If you’re going to inflate the number you are seeking, do it from the start, and be sure to follow with your reasoning. If the average person in your industry makes $75k and you’re asking for $125k, you better be able to provide real-life examples of how you have overperformed and why you are worth so much more.
It is also important to think of the offer as a holistic item. Base salary is often where the company has the least flexibility while the back end offering can be customized. Consider your work life balance, long term incentives, and bonuses. Ask for things that truly matter to you and that make your life better. In the end, an extra week of vacation can be better than an extra $5,000 in base.
Don’t let the promise of big payoffs hurt you in the long run. Like anything else, these employee shortages will even out and the market will once again balance itself. If you have over-negotiated your worth at hire, the company is going to expect you to perform at that level. Start out a new job like you would a new relationship. This is a two sided equation where both sides need to give a little to have the best outcome.