Lay Your Cards on the Table

Once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.

My 15+ years of recruiting experience has shown that it’s much better to lay your cards on the table in the beginning than to barter to get what you want. An employer can get very irritable when a candidate says, “I’ll think it over,” or keeps coming back with new demands again and again. Even if you get what you want, you’ve created a negative impression with the company which will carry over after you’ve been hired. In effect, you may win the battle, but lose the war.

By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, you’ll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether you’re representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.

You may want to itemize your bottom line, and, if it’s appropriate, show it to the company (or your recruiter) as a means to justify your salary request. Carefully figure your total package, and document any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and the like.

If a recruiter asks for your bottom line, he or she isn’t trying to manipulate you or conspire with an employer that plans to “lowball ” its candidates. The recruiter is simply making a good faith effort to discover what makes you happy, and put together two interested parties.

The Detailed Approach

Of course, there are considerations aside from money that usually need to be satisfied before an offer can be accepted. Factors such as your new position title, review periods, work schedule, vacation allotment, and promotion opportunities are important, and should be looked at carefully.

To understand the candidate’s needs, we use the detailed approach to quantify each consideration or “point” made by the candidate as a condition for acceptance. Once we understand each point, we can work with the company to put the deal together, without having to go back later to get “one more thing.”

Once you know your bottom line and each condition, or point, you’re in a better position to get what you want, since you’ve established quantifiable goals to shoot for.

How an Offer Is Staged

Every company makes hiring decisions differently. Some will encourage shoot-from-the-hip managers to make job offers on the spot. Other companies will limit the decision maker’s ability to act quickly and unilaterally, and require a drawn-out series of staff meetings, subsequent interviews, corporate signatures, and so on.

These days, it’s not uncommon for the hiring cycle to last weeks or even months, regardless of how “critical” the position might be. The best approach is to maintain contact with the company, allowing for the fact that there’ll probably be some delay. Presumably, you asked what the hiring procedure was when you first interviewed. Their answer should give you some indication as to when a decision will be made.

Offers can be extended by either a letter, or verbally from a hiring manager. They can also be made through a third party, such as a recruiter. In either case, be careful. An offer needs to include these three components before it can be considered official:

  • [1] Your position title;
  • [2] Your starting salary; and
  • [3] Your start date.

Before you resign from your present job, make sure you nail down each of these components from a company official, either verbally or in writing (in the form of an offer letter). Even if the offer comes through a recruiter, you should always contact the employer directly, and if possible, get a letter of offer or acceptance to verify the deal (although a verbal offer and acceptance will act as a legal contract).

Not long ago, I was working with a candidate who interviewed for a position with one of my client companies. The interview went extremely well; so well that the HR of the company called the candidate at his home that evening to discuss the offer.

“Well, Paul, we really like you,” the employer told the candidate. “The job is yours if you want it.”

“I want it,” said Paul. “When do I start?”

“Well, I’ll call Bill tomorrow and work out the details,” replied the employer.

Understandably, Paul got excited. Filled with pride, he drove his ailing grandmother by the new company the next day, so he could show off his new place of work.

But guess what? The employer never called me, and never called Paul, either. For some reason he changed his mind, and didn’t have the decency to let anyone know.

The reason we tell this story is to warn you that even when the cat seems to be in the bag, it’s not over until all the details are worked out. An offer has to include a position title, a starting salary, and a date of start to be official; just telling you the job is yours isn’t enough.

Here’s another word of caution: Offers sometimes have strings, or contingencies attached. Don’t be surprised if the fine print requires you to:

  • Pass a physical examination;
  • Document your citizenship or immigration status;
  • Obtain a security clearance;
  • Undergo a thorough background investigation, in which your credit history, police records, and travel history might be examined;
  • Verify your academic credentials; or
  • Provide proof of your past employment, salary, or military service.

Very often, these contingencies must be satisfied before you can to report to work or receive a paycheck.

Questions? find me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/talentpartnersinc