Everyone has done it, right? Talking a load of bollocks in the pub about what people are being paid and what salaries people are receiving in other departments of your competitors. You will hear comments like, 'I saw an ad for the same job I am doing now, and it was paying $30k more.' Normally, this type of statement is followed by, 'I am going to walk into the boss' office on Monday and demand a raise.' This is not out of the ordinary, but, let's be honest, it's not the real world. Negotiating rates during a recruitment exercise is a tricky topic.
The number of variables makes any sort of standard advice hard to give. This week, however, the temporary/contracting accounting and finance team in the people2people Sydney office did have a story that from which we can draw advice. Almost weekly, candidates who are in the market for a new temporary role are briefed by people2people consultants about a position, only to then announce to the consultant that another agency is recruiting for the same role and are offering more. It is rarely the case that another agency is actually offering more, but it does happen.
What made this week's situation unusual was the fact that the p2p team were replacing one of our own temporary staff due to an illness. We had filled the role once and had already been through lengthy negotiations with the hiring manager and knew what their absolute top hourly rate was. The team were sourcing for talent and found a particularly qualified candidate.
They mentioned the rate to the candidate, who was willing to be submitted at that rate. All good, but an hour after initially being briefed on the role, the candidate called back and said they had seen another agency advertise the role at 20% more. What our candidate was unaware of was the history behind the role, the fact that p2p was a preferred supplier and that the other agency could not possibly submit their details. What should they do? The candidate had done the right thing by having a conversation with the consultant. However, seeing an advertisement and making decisions based simply on that advertisement is not making an informed decision. Just like having a banter with your mates in the pub over salaries, seeing a role advertised at a particular rate does not then entitle you to ask – nor expect – a higher rate. Every candidate applying for a role is different.
They may be able to secure more for a role because they have skills that are desperately needed by the line manager. Similarly, they may have a lot of skills that are valuable in the marketplace generally but not considered important by the line manager, so the line manager will not pay for them. Listening to your consultant and making informed decisions is by far the best course of action. In our example, the candidate did decide to be represented by people2people at the rate we knew to be the maximum.
She decided that withdrawing and calling the other advertising agency would inevitably lead to an uncomfortable conversation about lowering her rate expectations later during the process. So when considering rates, keep the pub talk out of the conversation. Negotiate on facts, and remember that a bird in the hand is always worth two more in the bush when it comes to an offer for a temp and contract role.