Despite the weak economy, job-seekers are often unwilling to “take anything” when it comes to accepting an open position. According to a survey conducted by Personified, the talent consulting branch of CareerBuilder, an overwhelming majority of unemployed individuals who have received job offers have turned them down because the offer was too low. Some employers are slow to realize that, while money may not be the highest item on a candidate’s priority list, it’s certainly important–and nearly always one of the items the best applicants keep in mind when considering a job offer.
If a candidate rejects your offer, most likely it’s because they feel they deserve more money and may be able to get it elsewhere. Your immediate options are (a) stick with the initial offer but describe a clearly-defined path of increased responsibility and opportunities (indicating a higher salary down the road); (b) reassess the offer, based on the value you think this person can bring to your business; (c) supplement the original offer with the best employee benefits package you can afford.
These options demonstrate to the job-seeker that you’re a flexible employer who values their potential worth to the business.
What if the gap between your offer and the candidate’s salary expectations is too wide? One response, of course, is to simply shake hands and wish him or her the best in their future endeavors. Or you can ask yourself a few questions and make a decision based on your answers:
Does this person have skills you can’t find elsewhere? If the skill-set far exceeds that of other applicants, you may want to reconsider your “best” offer.
Can this person become a long-term employee? There’s no way to know for sure but, if your instincts say ‘yes’ and you foresee longer-term benefits for the business, it may be worth upping the offer. On the other hand, if you sense that the applicant doesn’t intend to stick around (a dreaded “job-hopper”), then stand by your original offer and see what happens.
How badly do you need someone in this position? Ideally, you should know the answer to this question before the hiring process gets underway. An urgent need to hire reduces your negotiating power, but it also makes the situation more clear-cut. If the best applicant is sitting in front of you and wants more money–and you need them right away–you can either boost your initial offer or move on to the next best candidate.
In any salary negotiation, there should be flexibility on both sides. A job-seeker should be able to justify their demand for more money to your satisfaction. An employer must avoid the mind-set of seeing how much they can get for little or average pay. It’s also important to conduct annual market salary surveys to be sure you’re even making a competitive offer.
Remember, it usually costs more to start the recruitment process all over again from scratch than by adjusting your offer slightly upward in order to keep the job candidate happy.