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A Recruiter’s Guide to Salary Negotiations - Tips and Ideas for Getting the Right Compensation

Recruiter's Guide to Salary Negotiation by WinterWyman Search

When it comes to salary negotiations, when and how you handle them can mean the difference between landing the role with the pay you want, or losing the opportunity altogether. We asked some of WinterWyman Search’s expert recruiters for their thoughts on the savvy, fair and realistic ways to negotiate compensation. Here’s what they had to say.

Carrie-Anne McGrath - Partner and Manager

First and foremost, be prepared. Do your homework and know what your approximate value is in the market. Simply stating the words, “I should be paid more” never won a salary negotiation. Be ready to present why you should be paid more and make a convincing case.  We all think we should be paid more. It’s not often that I hear someone say, “I am paid fairly; I don’t want to make more money.”  

Assuming you are not using a third party like a recruiter to handle negotiations for you, I suggest giving a range when asked what you are looking for.  Never give a single number, because you will be held to it.  For example, if you answer, “I’m looking for 90K” and the role can’t pay more than 88K, you may have just ruled yourself out of your dream position for $2,000! Adversely, if you say 90K and the role would have paid 95K, you basically just told the company you will take 90K, so there is no reason to offer you more.  Usually a 10K range is fair to give a potential employer.  Just be ready to explain why you deserve to be in that range. 

When negotiating, use phrases such as, “I’m really excited about this role and I want to take the job, but I was really hoping for “X” to make the move.  I’m not saying I am turning it down by any means, but is there anything else you could do?”  Sometimes the way in which you ask can open up doors.  

James Mellon - Principal

When it comes to salary, you will naturally want to try to get the best offer possible. When you are negotiating, understand the factors that go into a realistic salary. A company offers a salary based on a variety of elements that include the candidate’s experience as it relates to the role, the salary range for the position and the candidate’s salary expectations compared to what others with a similar background are seeking.

It is also important to look at the total offer package and not just the base salary.  If there is a bonus percentage or equity/stock included in the offer, you should also take that into consideration. And don’t forget to include the healthcare/benefit plan the company is offering.

Choosing the best position and the right company are ultimately the most important factors above and beyond salary. I would rather see someone take the right role for a little less compensation than the wrong role for a little more. I think being happy in your job and moving to an organization or role that will further advance your career are what should be the main drivers in a job search. 

William O'Neil - Principal

Make sure you do not focus only on base salary. Base salary can have strict parameters due to internal equity. If you can’t get the company to go higher on base salary, there are a few other options to get more compensation. Ask for a sign-on bonus, an early review (typically six months), equity, or more vacation time.

If you decide to fight for a higher salary, be prepared to lose the job due to unrealistic expectations. At some point, a company wants to make sure you are taking the job for the right reasons and not just money. There have been numerous occasions in which companies will walk if they believe they have put together a competitive offer based upon your experience, education, the level of the role, how it coincides with similar level roles in the company, etc. But they will go to the back-up candidate or start the search from scratch if they don’t believe they can make you happy from a monetary basis.

Bill O'Connell - Partner

I've always felt that salary negotiations should be direct and simple. Your prospective company should be made aware of your compensation package expectations. That should include base salary, bonus, profit sharing, or equity awards. They should also be aware of when your next salary review will occur. Remember that salary should only come into play once you've decided that this opportunity is right for you and you can see yourself being successful and happy in the new role. If compensation is the only compelling factor to take the position, that might be a sign that this job is not the right fit after all.

Another factor that might come into play is "nonquantitative" compensation. Most options like work/life balance, potential ability for flexible hours, or working from home might not be on the table initially, as they tend to be earned with some time. However, if they are important to you, the potential for that now or sometime in the near future should be addressed. 

Andrew Finn - Partner

The first thing to remember is your ultimate goal: to find the right career opportunity. Sometimes people get so caught up in compensation that they lose sight of what's really important. The last thing you want to do is get a few extra dollars but in a manner that leaves a sour taste in your new employer's mouth. Don't win the battle and lose the war.

I always recommend having compensation conversations with a high amount of professionalism and tact. I believe that it's not only what you say, but how you say it. And that last piece might actually be the thing that sticks the most with your new potential employer. 

Lastly, be mindful of the fact that the best negotiations typically end where both sides feel good.  Both sides should be treated respectfully by one another and end the discussions with a fair outcome for all parties.

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