The Pietrack Press
As an executive recruiter, I recognize that some candidates will tell me what they think I want to hear. For the most part, I give people the benefit of the doubt that they are being truthful, although there is one statement that candidates say that I no longer allow myself believe, “Money is not that important.”
I used to love hearing “money isn’t that important” because I thought it meant that the candidate was truly evaluating the job without dollar signs in their eyes. Ironically, too many times when we were at the offering table I’d find myself on the phone with a seemingly different candidate than who first uttered those words. Over the years I’ve learned that money is always important.
Now, I don’t think anyone is being untruthful; it is just that people get uneasy when a big decision is being presented to them, especially when money is concerned. Considering a job offer is foreign territory for most people, and they want to make sure they don’t leave money on the table. So, I wanted to answer some routine questions I get around offer time with the hopes that it will ease the pressure of this big decision on unfamiliar footing:
1. Money aside do I want the job? This is the most important question to ask yourself throughout the interview process, but it is especially important right after the final interview. The answer you’re trying to avoid is, “Well, if the offer were really great, yeah, I’d probably accept it.” I would hesitate to recommend taking a job because of money. My recommendation is going after the job you really want as long as the compensation is fair and reasonable according to market standards.
2. How do I negotiate the best offer? First, I want to say that offers are generated with careful consideration and extended with the expectation that no negotiation will take place. The best time to influence your offering is before the offer is even formulated, not after. What most candidates don’t understand is that your recruiter makes a professional recommendation about what to offer. The challenge for the recruiter is that most candidates aren’t candid and want to see what kind of an offer the company will generate hoping that is will exceed their expectations. My advice is to set a reasonable expectation and share it so that you’ll get an offer that you’ll accept.
3. Should I accept their first offer? A major misconception out there is that it is a best practice to never accept a company’s first offer. I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, the company might be able to get you a couple more thousand dollars on your base salary, but what you’re spending in political capital makes it an expensive endeavor. The easiest way to show a lack of gratitude is to ask for an offer to be increased when there is not a legitimate reason for doing so.
4. If the offer is unacceptable but I really want the job, how do I politely ask for the offer to be increased? If the offer is not acceptable but you really want the job, then that is a separate topic than just asking for an increase without well-founded reasons. The simple way to get them to an agreeable set of terms is to tell them exactly what you would accept. Don’t allow them to generate another offer without them clearly knowing what you would accept.
Here’s a script, “Mr. Manager, I am very grateful that I am the person you want to hire, and I am excited to be on the team. I can’t wait to get started on PROJECT-A and PROJECT-B. The only hesitation I have at this point is that the financial part of the offer was below what I was expecting, and at this level it isn’t acceptable. I wanted to say clearly what I would accept so that we can get started on these projects. I would, without hesitation, accept an offer of __________. The reason I think that is appropriate is___________. Do you think that is possible for XYZ to do?”
I hope this insight is helpful to you as you work your way through the interview process. I recommend that you trust your recruiter and confide in them about what would be an acceptable and unacceptable offer. The key to a successful recruiter is to not allow unacceptable offers to be extended. So, be candid about your expectations so that your recruiter can broker the deal. Also, keep in mind what you said in the beginning about how money isn’t the most important thing. If you want the job and like the people, be fair and reasonable as you consider their offering. This will assure that you start this new journey on the right step.