It’s a notoriously hard conversation to have: the dreaded “comp talk.” Everyone recognizes that salary negotiation is difficult for job seekers — after all, there’s lots of emotion, aspiration and fear baked in. But it can be equally daunting for employers.
Especially in a labor market as tight as ours, there are many layers of needs and restrictions for employers, bringing plenty of anxiety to the process for recruiters and hiring managers on the front lines of building teams. And it’s a tricky line to walk: no one wants to be responsible for blowing it with a highly desirable candidate — but you also don’t want to hire someone in a salary range that’s either unsustainable or unequitable.
There’s no shortage of content geared toward job seekers looking to negotiate a higher salary, but there’s not a lot of support for employers on the other side of that process.
Ultimately, employers have to balance the need to stay within a tight budget with the goal of hiring the best person for a job. If, at the end of the process — whether you’ve won the candidate or not — you know you’ve done your due diligence with the steps above, you can take comfort knowing that it’s a tricky process for everyone involved. There’s always a silver lining — even on the rare occasion that you feel a good one got away.
Here are 12 tips on how to negotiate with top talent:
#1 Do advance research. Before posting any open role, start with a solid grasp of your internal budget for the salary, then look at salary ranges on Glassdoor for similar roles in your area. By conducting solid compensation analysis in advance, you ensure that you calibrate the job requirements properly — and that you’re not surprised by the job seeker’s salary expectations.
#2 Clarify job level early. When there is a discrepancy between what salary a candidate is hoping for and what an employer is able to offer, it is usually because there’s a misunderstanding in job level or skill requirements. Be sure to think carefully about job scope before posting your open role. If you add skill requirements that are nice-to-haves, you’re more likely to attract job seekers outside of your salary range, making agreement on compensation a likely sticking point later in the process. By laying this early groundwork, you minimize the likelihood of a failed salary negotiation later on.
#3 Don’t require salary history. Consider removing any indication of current salary from the application process. People don’t always need to increase their income with every job move, and by asking for it in advance many candidates in this situation will get scared off because they fear their salary history prices them out of the role, which could mean your best candidates won’t even apply. And on top of that, in many states, it’s even illegal to ask for prior salary history.
#4 Specify a salary range up front. When you’re ready to post your open role, be sure to add a salary range on your Glassdoor job post. Research shows that the top piece of information Glassdoor users want when evaluating a job or employer is detail on salary/compensation packages. By clarifying a salary range upfront, candidates will opt in or out early, minimizing the possibility of coming to a salary stalemate later on.
#5 Fully evangelize your benefits. Whether your salary ranges are competitive in the local labor market or not, it’s important to be loud and proud with the benefits your company offers. And while elements like health insurance and paid time off are important, don’t be shy about promoting the less-common benefits offered by your workplace. The unique benefits your company offers might be just the antidote to a lower salary.