Sunday, September 20, 2009

Candidate Rant: Flawed Salary Negotiation

A candidate writes:

“Dear HR Store,

Been reading your blog for sometime now and wanted your advice on a current situation I’m in, regarding a job offer. I’ve been looking for a job change for quite sometime and have interviewed with a few prospective employers.

I’ve now received a job offer from a Company that I’m keen to work with, based on the role and responsibility explained to me by both hiring manage and HR. However, the compensation offered doesn’t excite me. I know I deserve better. How do I go about asking for a better deal?

Recently, a friend (ex-colleague from same team) as mine has joined them and he was offered a better deal than me for almost the same role. I did bring it up in my discussions with the hiring manager and HR, after I received the job offer. They have however stuck to their offer and aren’t willing to make any changes. What could I do to convince them?

I’m running out of time and need to let them know of my decision.. I’m keen on the position. But don’t want to go into the job thinking that I’ve been undervalued in terms of compensation.

Any advice?


Since you wrote to me, I’ll give you my take on it. Not sure if you’ll like what I have to say next. So brace yourself. You just touched upon my candidate pet peeve.

If you have been reading my blog, then you may (I wish you already have) read this post on
salary negotiation. If you still haven’t read it, I’ll explain again.

First, it’s good you like the role & responsibility that comes with the position you have been offered. That’s a great start. So you already have a valid reason to take up the job. Since the excitement of getting highly paid for a job you don’t like, will eventually not sound exciting a year down the line. Really.

Second, the Company you’ve interviewed with have their own parameters to select candidates. If they’ve offered you, it means you’ve made the cut. But chances are at you may have only met a majority of their hiring criteria. That leaves certain areas of the job profile that you don’t bring to the table, but have shown potential to pick it up.

That brings us to the point. How do you go about asking for a better deal after receiving a job offer?

- Start with having a candid discussion with the hiring manager regarding your take on the job offer. Start with asking their way/rationale of arriving at a job offer. It will help understand the criteria they’ve considered in your case.
- Based on their response, you build our case with reasons for why you feel that the compensation offered is on the lower end.
- Your reasons could be based on:
o Reinforcing the value that you would add to their team / work.
o You could project your value primarily based on having studied their product/service.
o Take prevailing market conditions into account.
o Your understanding on skill-set availability.
o Your ability to manage more responsibility efficiently and effectively (not another role, but more on the current role over a period of time).

Now, all of this must have been done during the interview process itself. If for whatever reason you haven’t highlighted your strengths, this is your last chance. The hiring manager is usually the decision-maker too. So use your last chance wisely.

However, I would ask you to be ready to hear a ‘No’. That’s a possibility too. If they believe they’ve been fair in their selection process, they’ll stick to their offer. Then the call rests with you. That’s when you ask yourself, “What are the things in a job offer that are you willing to give-up?” Make a checklist of things that you cannot give up, while maybe others you can give up. Which bucket does salary/compensation fall under?

Ok, that was the nice me answering your first part of the question. I’ll move on to my candidate pet-peeve.

You can't compare YOUR job offer with your friend's, even if both are from the same company. You just raised a big Red Flag!

Worse, you brought it up in your discussions with the hiring manager. It screams that you don’t understand the hiring process. If you don’t know how it works, ASK. Understand the process and it will help you handle future interviews a lot better. If you brought up your friend’s salary /comp details, it tells the employer:

- That their employee (your friend) is revealing salary details to candidates (you). That’s reason enough to land him in trouble. And hurt your chances of getting hired too.
- By comparing yourself to your friend, you are creating a pseudo-benchmark for yourself.
- Even if you do accept the offer and go on-board; the hiring manager is going to be on his guard for a long time. You wouldn’t like that. Really.

So there you go. You know what you could do next and most importantly what you should not be doing in future. Make your checklist of things you are ok to let go and those that you aren’t ok with. Quick. Revert to the hiring manager with your reply.

Good luck!

PS: Another post about cost that might interest you