With the current market situation being still very much candidate-driven, it shouldn’t shock you as a recruiter that salary is going to continue to be a huge part of the conversation with any potential candidate you’re trying to place. Most employers across all sectors plan at least a 4% salary increase for their employees, with a quarter budgeting for 5%-7% increase. And rightfully so – after all, considering the costs of living crisis, candidates should have the right to demand higher pay, correct?
Well, that leaves you in quite a pickle – because this exact market situation creates a perfect excuse for candidates to be a lot more demanding than they normally would be. And you, as a recruiter, might often need to manage their expectations…
This can be a tough one as you don’t want to offend your candidate and say there’s no way they can get the salary they want or they aren’t worth that salary, but it is also your job to make sure they understand the market and who they are competing against. If you have a candidate that is demanding a really high salary without justification, it is important to handle the situation in the right way.
So how do you go about it in these tricky times?
Understand other important benefits
Make sure your candidate understands that salary is just one part of a package, and present the other benefits that might be important to them, too. It’s crucial that you know exactly who they are and what values are important to them as people – because that might be key to negotiating. For example, the second most common reason for wanting to change jobs is flexibility and remote working – and over 64% of candidates would love an increase in benefit quality!
With the cost of living crisis, of course, salary is important to candidates, but it isn’t always the be-all and end-all for them. A higher salary is great but what if they then need to pay expensive costs to commute to the new role? Or perhaps they need the flexibility to be able to do the school run so they don’t need to pay for extra childcare?
All of these things add up to their salary expectations, but it’s your job to present them with different solutions.
Confirm their current salary
Make sure to ask about their current salary and what salary they are seeking for their next role. If there is a big difference between the two and you can see it isn’t because they are being underpaid, it’s time to figure out their reasoning.
Some candidates don’t want to tell you their current salary but you need to convince them that it will help you understand things from their perspective - so that you can best represent them to your clients moving forward, specifically if there is a big jump between where they stand right now and what they’re aiming for.
Perhaps they have been studying towards a qualification to take them to the next level but haven’t put it on their CV? Or maybe they really have been underpaid in their current role and deserve the big change. Only by having those sometimes difficult conversations will you be able to understand their reasoning and respond accurately.
Research the market yourself
If you have done your research, you will be able to guide the candidate on what the typical role pays based on experience level. Remember - you’re the expert, but you need to have the stats to back yourself! This will build trust with your candidate, as they will see that you know what you are talking about and have experience in the field.
You can then explain to the candidate that they will be up against people with years more experience, often looking for a lower or similar salary - and it may rule them out of the process straight away, without even securing an interview with your client. It’s crucial that you’re being realistic and honest with your candidate, always keeping the explanations backed by real-life examples and data.
Be prepared to say goodbye
If you’ve covered all these steps and your candidate is still demanding a salary that is way over their experience (or over what the client is prepared to offer), then it might be time to say that you won’t be able to represent them. You can’t win them all. Make sure you really have been fair in your assessment of what they are looking for and if you can honestly say you won’t be able to put them forward for the salary level they are looking for – it’s time to wish them well and say goodbye.
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Awesome Aussie Beth is an experienced recruiter and Growth Executive here at Firefish. She has a huge love of the industry and a real passion for helping recruiters to change the way they recruit.