5 mistakes employers make during salary negotiations

Negotiating salary is a crucial element to master during the recruitment process. The best candidates know there is so much more to a great job than a regular pay cheque. But even workers who are happy in their role will want to discuss salary at some stage, and that’s where your finely honed salary negotiation skills can come in handy. We give you a head start by pinpointing five common mistakes that hiring managers make when negotiating salary below:

1. Being unprepared

Many of today’s savvy job candidates show up at the salary negotiation table organised, having done their research on how to get what they want. You should be prepared too. Before you discuss salary, make sure you’ve benchmarked your offerings. Use resources such as the Robert Half Salary Guide as a reference.

2. Agreeing to a salary that’s too high

Paying a new employee at a rate far higher than the rest of your staff can quickly kill the team spirit in your office. Being treated fairly and with respect is a key aspect of workplace happiness, and while you may think remuneration packages remain secret, they often get out, especially in a small business environment. A better salary negotiation strategy is to set a maximum amount you’re willing to pay a candidate. That way there’s a reasonable degree of internal equity, and you won’t have to worry about disgruntled co-workers if the candidate does reveal his salary.

3. Thinking it’s all about the money

Salary itself isn’t the only part of the salary negotiation equation you need to consider. If a job candidate isn’t satisfied with the starting salary, rekindle his interest with a reminder of the additional perks of the role such as opportunities to learn and grow with the organisation and the overall benefits package. Still not budging? Some of the other perks you could offer include:

  • Telecommuting
  • Flexible work hours
  • Opportunities to attend seminars and conferences
  • Discounted gym membership or onsite child care

4. Playing games

Salary negotiation essentially comes down to bargaining: You’re trying to get what you want (a great employee) within your budget. Some degree of back and forth is inherent in the process, but don’t let it lead to playing games. Respect and be honest with the job candidate and with yourself during salary negotiations.

Always keep in mind your workplace needs and how easy or difficult you believe it will be to fill the position.

Don’t let your judgment be tainted by factors such as the halo effect — focusing on one positive attribute of a candidate and ignoring everything else. Sometimes you have to let a great candidate go if you can’t strike a reasonable deal.

5. Getting caught up in the moment

Avoid the trap of becoming so engrossed in negotiating salary that you forget what’s important to your organisation. If your attempts to woo a reluctant candidate fall short, the best thing to do in many cases is to cut your losses and look elsewhere. The goal at this point should be to end the process so that the candidate leaves with a feeling of being treated fairly and with dignity. Don’t burn bridges, as you never know when your paths may cross again.

Preparation is the key when negotiating salary with a new hire - use the Robert Half Salary Guide to ensure you're offering the right salary package for top talent.

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