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How to Handle Job Candidates Who Negotiate for a Higher Salary

By Ria Bamba on October 17, 2016

Looking for the perfect employee can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. And when you finally find the right person, the finish line is just a shake of the hand away.

However, there will always be that candidate who is armed with the best skills, is loaded with experience, and can talk their way out of any difficult interview question that will, almost always, ask for more than what you can offer.

As a hiring manager, there are quite a few ways to move gracefully around the fine lines of this sticky situation. Below are some tips for handling candidates who negotiate for a higher salary when you can't provide it — or when you think they don't deserve it yet.

1. Know what you are looking for.

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An applicant’s resume could be teeming with skills and experiences but not all of them are applicable to the position they are applying for. Know and highlight those skills that you want to see and use that as leverage if you think the candidate is not yet ready for the higher salary.

A classic response you can get from the candidate is that he/she is willing to learn. Make them realize this, along with a hint that other applicants have better familiarity with highlighted skills, will help downplay thoughts of a possible higher offer.

2. Mention the many great benefits of the company.

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Deserving candidates might not get their asking price from you but be ready to enumerate the many benefits, bonuses, and other ways the company shows how they value their employees. These could range from performance appraisals, 13th or 14th-month bonuses, SL/VL Payouts, quarterly incentives, discounts in leading establishments, medical coverage, even facilities that are unique to the company (in-house gym, shower area, sleeping quarters, daycare, built-in insurance, retirement pay, etc.).

Emphasize these perks to further stress that they might not be getting what they want in terms of salary, but they can definitely get more in company benefits.

It would be best to gear yourself up with company benefits that are not usually offered in other companies because the usual benefits might not be as enticing.

3. Always have some leeway with the advertised salary, when possible.

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Let’s say you have already established that, as a hiring manager, you know what you are looking for and you are well aware of the benefits. But you are also aware that you have found a rare person fit for the position. Skills and attitude are on par with what you need.

Another extra step is to be ready to negotiate. Even before the hiring process, ensure that you have some leeway in terms of the salary. Express this as early as the job post by having a good minimum and maximum range will make the applicant feel they have flexibility with the salary.

4. Explain the situation and emphasize growth from within.

the boss woman GIF by SoulPancakevia GIPHY

Some companies will not give out a higher salary and will stick with the stated one for the position. So how do you go about keeping the candidate interested? Highlight opportunities for professional growth within the company.

For example, a company that is fairly new could be positioned as a chance for development and increased chances of an immediate promotion since the applicant will be entering as a pioneer employee. This angle could also be used as an opportunity to grow and get more experience within the company. The salary might not be much now, but an increase is just a couple years away and could speak better of them.

5. It's not what you say, but how you say it!

You’ve probably heard that before, but it works. These steps are easy to execute but if they aren't packaged the right way, there won't work. In negotiating with a candidate, walk the fine line gracefully because anything you say can either make the person stick with the company's offer — or find greener pastures elsewhere.

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