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Tips to avoid losing candidates at salary negotiations

Tips to avoid losing candidates at salary negotiations

Unless you are a conflict-hungry corporate shark, negotiating a salary offer with ideal candidates can be a nerve-racking situation. This salary negotiation stress is magnified for small business owners, who lack the ability to call on human resources to perform end-to-end technical recruitment. On one hand, you want the offer to be attractive and enticing, but on the other, you’d like to avoid lengthy negotiations and paying above-market salaries for your employees. To add fuel to the fire, you also need to avoid insulting the candidate with a much too low offer.

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I’m not going to lie to you – it’s a daunting task. Nevertheless, smooth salary negotiations are not impossible – negotiation is a skill developed over time and, like all skills, it gets easier with practice. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few salary negotiation tips and tricks I’d like to share with you. For those reading adverse readers out there, I’ve put together a video summary of the key points at the bottom of the article.


Prior to extending the offer, establish a base salary range for the position. Use the number of years’ experience you’ve outlined in the job description, and get a sense of the going rate in your area for the skills/experience required. A website like Salary.com works well for most technical positions.


In the initial offer letter, be sure to outline the value of all your given benefits, including the number of days’ vacation per year and the bonus structure/terms for the position. Top candidates will receive multiple offer letters and will want to compare the benefits packages to see which one provides ancillary services and support that are important to them.


As a smaller company, it can be hard to compete on salary with some of the big players. Larger companies recognize the value of premium technical talent and pay their employees well. For smaller firms, it is often vital to sell the candidate on some of the other things you offer, such as growth potential and company culture. A talented candidate might appreciate the opportunity to grow with you.


You don’t want to low ball your dream candidate, but you also don’t want to open with your best possible offer. For most mid-level engineering positions, having an upper limit that is $10,000 to 20,000 more than the base should give you more than enough wiggle room.


Remember, salary negotiations are tough on candidates too and they aren’t a zero-sum game. Ideally, you will be able to strike a balance that keeps your applicant and your accountant happy.

Want to skip the salary negotiation process and get tech talent sourced by a third party? Contact Expect today to see how we can help.

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