Negotiating for the sake of negotiating – the risks of haggling on salary during the job offer process
in Careers Advice, Changing Jobs, Employers, Interviews, Job Applications

Negotiating for the sake of negotiating – the risks of haggling on salary during the job offer process

A couple of job offers recently have ended up in a stalemate situation between the employers and the employees. The employees have asked for a higher salary and the employers have taken umbrage at the fact the employees have asked the question.

Here are our top 10 pieces of advice when considering negotiating on salary during the job offer process:

  • Never assume that holding out for more money is risk free. Offers can be withdrawn.
  • Do not attempt to negotiate from a position of weakness, particularly if the employer is aware of your weaknesses.
  • If you tell the employer a piece of information during interview, make sure you stick to this during negotiations. An example would be where you informed the employer you were looking for a salary level of £50k, but then when they offer you this you ask for more. It does happen.
  • If you are not particularly bothered about a job offer, but would take it at the right level, haggle to your heart’s content. You have nothing to lose.
  • If you are extremely interested in a job offer and would not want to lose the opportunity for the sake of a few £000, be very, very wary indeed of haggling on job offers.
  • Consider a conciliatory approach. This can include not negotiating on the base salary, but rather to indicate interest in a bonus scheme or a salary review after 6 months. Sometimes employers factor in agency fees for the first few months (fees can be based on salary) and then the salary can be ratcheted up once the agency is out of the equation.
  • Do not tell the employer that a figure is your bottom line if this is untrue. So many times over the years candidates have been forced into a corner and been unable to recover – pride often kicks in unnecessarily..
  • Think about your approach from the employer’s perspective. Have they pushed the boat out to get you on board? Are they spending more than they planned to in the recruitment process? Are they likely to be offended if you ask for £10k more?
  • When considering negotiating, think about what you have to offer. If you are unemployed, currently get a low wage, looking to relocate to an area where there are traditionally very few opportunities or undertake a particular type of work that only this firm covers, do you really want to lose the opportunity in return for an additional £3k?
  • Stay focussed from the outset. If you want £50k and this is your absolute bottom line – specify this from the start. Never change the goal posts.

And our tips for employers when considering making job offers and negotiating:

  • Do not see your rear end just because a candidate asks you for more money. Its human nature to ask for more.
  • Always offer the candidate more than the salary they are currently receiving unless there are clear cost saving benefits to them of joining you. Candidates do not make moves for the same money they currently get unless they are desperate, there are clear financial benefits (eg commuting) or they hate their current firm.
  • Try to negotiate incentives – once candidates start haggling they are going to want to see some movement so they can be satisfied with the result. Bonuses, reviews, future promotion prospects can all be agreed to and don’t necessarily cost anything..
  • Never withdraw an offer simply because a candidate asks for more money. It makes you look petty and very awkward.
  • Do not withdraw the first offer and come back with a lower offer to penalise the candidate for daring to ask for more money. We are not living in Victorian times and eating gruel.
  • Do not go all Alpha Male/Female and start aggressively demanding candidates make decisions by specific dates for no apparent reason. Only introduce dates into the process if the candidate is quite clearly prevaricating. Some do and deadlines can have their place. It has been known for candidates to have a narcissistic personality and go to interviews to collect job offers.
  • Keep calm and think about the longer term goals of the recruitment. Take a deep breath before you get offended by a request for an extra £1,000. Give clear reasons for any refusals.
  • Take note of the employee’s negotiation skills. Are they any good?
  • Try and be as conciliatory as possible. Salary reviews in 6 months never harmed anyone..
  • Be prepared to move on your offer. Lets face it – an extra £2k per year is only going to cost you £166.66 per month plus employers NI.

Both sides tend to get very hot under the collar at times and start hating each other for no apparent reason. When negotiations break down we very often get one of the parties mentioning to us some time later that it was a shame that the offer from X didn’t work out. We refrain from pointing out that it could easily have worked out if only the parties had been a bit more flexible… Some jobs do not grow on trees – and neither do good candidates.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk