What if Your Best Candidate Rejects Your Salary Offer?

Once you’ve sorted through resumes, contacted references, and conducted interviews, the end of an arduous hiring process may seem to be within reach at last.  Settling on your top two or three candidates, you make an offer to your first choice, complete with salary – only to hear your top candidate say “thanks, but no thanks.”

What should a hiring manager do next?  Going back to the drawing board is an option, but it’s an expensive, time-consuming route that isn’t necessary if you’re prepared to address a top candidate’s concerns about salary up front.  Flexibility and innovation in salary negotiations can help you find a compensation package that will satisfy your top candidate and encourage him or her to stay with your company.

When your best candidate turns down a salary offer, consider responding in one of the following ways:

  1. Hold firm.  You may choose to stay with the offer that is on the table, although this position involves some calculated risk.  If you stick with the initial offer, help the candidate put it in perspective by describing a well-defined route the candidate can take to earning increased responsibilities and the salary that accompanies them.  Candidates considering a long-term position with your organization may reconsider their initial concerns.
  2. Reassess the offer.  On what basis was the original salary offer made: budget concerns, expected value, the candidate’s skills and experience?  Reconsider not only the grounds for the original offer, but also the factors that may support raising the offer.  For example, if a candidate has a particular professional license or years of specialized experience, these qualities may justify an increase in the salary offer.
  3. Sweeten the deal.  No matter how outstanding a first-choice candidate is, many organizations simply don’t have the budget to offer significant salary increases – especially in a tough economy.  If you simply cannot change the dollar amount, consider increasing compensation in other ways likely to appeal to a high-performing candidate.  Flex time, access to company discounts or tickets to cultural events, and more assistance with professional tasks can all attract top talent, even if the salary is lower than a top candidate might otherwise expect.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our experienced staffing partners can help you find and keep top talent. Contact us today to learn more!

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