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