How much?! Just this last week, I was asked by one of our senior recruiters at people2people for some advice regarding a salary issue. She was working on an assignment with a solid six figure salary. She had been briefed on the role by a very reliable and professional HR manager, and the assignment had produced a successful outcome despite restrictions on the techniques we were able to utilise to resource for candidates. Our contact and the CEO were delighted with one particular candidate and were ready to make an offer. The offer was 10% less than the candidate's salary expectations and the remuneration stated on his resume! It seems that the CEO believed that the preferred candidate was not worth the salary, despite the fact that the recruiter and the employer's own HR professional had discussed and confirmed the position’s salary prior to the second interview. The candidate was impressed with the opportunity, and the company was willing to reduce his salary expectations to secure the role. So why is it that the CEO decided after a seven-week recruitment campaign to offer the candidate less than his current remuneration? The answer is... I have no idea! Regardless of the motivations or thinking that brought the CEO to this decision, he insisted that the offer be made. It was swiftly declined. There many consequences arising from this situation:
The prospective hire now feels less valued
The CEO’s actions have raised questions with the prospective employee on whether the company can afford to make the hire
Goodwill that is always present with a new employee has already been eroded
The recruiter now has less confidence in representing the company in the marketplace, as she may have her reputation tarnished. It is nearly always the recruiters who are blamed for these types of outcomes
The HR professional feels disenfranchised, as he has gone to the market with a salary expectation
Even if the original salary is now offered, it may be difficult to rescue the situation and have the prospective employee accept the offer
The advice I gave the consultant was to consult. What I mean is that she should explain to all parties what the consequences of these actions are. This is for both the client making the offer and the candidate declining the offer. Ultimately, it is the recruitment consultant who can facilitate any negotiation. The outcome of this story is that the recruiter has had to recommence the recruitment process. The lessons for everyone are:
For the consultant – Make sure you consult and communicate expectations regularly, not just once.
For the HR professional – Ensure the salary expectations are clear with your line managers. Use the expertise available with your recruiter to communicate the marketplace effectively, which means assisting your line managers with filling any knowledge gaps. It may be against policy, but sometimes a meeting with the line manager and the recruiter can ensure everyone is communicating the same message.
For the CEO – Make sure you give clear boundaries, particularly on salary, to your HR function, and don’t assume you know the market better than those who are working in it every day. If you can’t afford the salaries after seeking advice, then be prepared to compromise on other aspects of your recruitment brief.