Don't Get Blindsided by Your Candidates

 Todd's a rookie recruiter, and he just dodged a bullet.

His candidate said he would need a minimum salary of $65,000 to change jobs.

So Todd sent the candidate to an interview with his client. Three weeks and two interviews later, the employer told Todd he wanted to extend an offer.

"What sort of salary did you have in mind?" asked Todd.

"Well, your candidate is pretty good, but he's weak in several areas," said the employer. "So we're going to offer him $52,000, which we feel is fair market value for a person with his experience."

The wheels began to spin in Todd's head. Three weeks earlier, the candidate said he needed $65,000. And today the employer wants to offer him $52,000.

If I can get the employer to split the difference, thought Todd, the candidate will probably accept.

So Todd rolled the dice. "Mr. Employer, your offer is too low. In my opinion, it'll take at least $58,000 for the candidate to accept the job."

"Is that so?" said the employer. "I'll call you back."

Twist and Shout
Ten minutes later, Todd's phone rang. It was the employer and he was furious.

"I decided to call the candidate myself," he shouted. "And guess what? He accepted my offer of $52,000."

"He did?" said Todd.

"Yes, and I certainly don't appreciate your greedy little tactics," said the employer. "You were just trying to ratchet up your fee at my expense."


"Good-bye," said the employer, and he hung up the phone.

Reality Bites
Poor Todd. His intentions were good, but his information was bad. He was certain he knew the candidate's bottom line. Unfortunately, the $65,000 number was only an abstraction; it wasn't factored into the context of a tangible job offer.

Todd learned a harsh lesson: People make demands, threats and promises all the time and they're quickly forgotten in the face of reality.

To protect yourself from surprises, here are a few tips when it comes to working with candidates:

1.Do the salary math. Ask for clarification when it comes to benefits, bonuses, commissions and deferred compensation (such as pension, stock and profit sharing). That way, you'll know exactly what the candidate's earning.

2.Press for verification. For example, you can ask, "Exactly what did it say on last year's W-2?" or "If it were necessary, would you be able to show me a recent pay stub?"

3.Look for the logic behind a salary demand. If the candidate is making $75,000 a year and says he'll need $100,000 to make a job change, ask how you would justify such an increase to a prospective employer.

4.Keep your facts up-to-date. Every time you talk to a candidate, ask if anything has changed. 5.Deal in specifics. As Todd discovered, what a candidate tells you in the abstract ("I need $65,000") may be very different than what he says in real-life ("...but I'll take $52,000").

Your best defense against broken deals and hard feelings is to close each side independently. Despite the fireworks, Todd still made the placement. But had he known exactly what the candidate was willing to accept before the offer was extended, the employer would have been grateful, not hateful.

By Bill Radin
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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