Negotiating Yourself Right Out of an Offer
By Rob Reeves, Executive Recruiter, President, CEO
So you fancy yourself a skilled negotiator? That will hopefully serve you well, just don’t negotiate yourself right out of an offer. We recently had a fantastic candidate who did just that.
It is important to understand that negotiating a job offer is the beginning of an important relationship between hiring manager and employee. “Don’t lose sight of the human part of negotiating.” cautions Rob Reeves, executive recruiter and CEO of Redfish Technology for over 17 years.
Salary negotiations can be challenging. The market is heating up for great sales, marketing and engineering talent in the technology sectors. Candidates often want a step up in salary when making a move. Even if you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and you’ve got negotiating in your blood, listen up!
Here’s the story of the candidate who negotiated himself out of an offer, let’s call him John. We’ll call the recruiter Rob, and the hiring manager Henry.
Rob found John by networking through industry contacts in search of a highly talented candidate with proven success. Rob presented John with a fantastic opportunity in a growing, innovative mid-stage start-up company with stellar leadership. John was definitely excited about the role and the company, but he had hoped for a higher salary than the company had slated.
Based on his extraordinary track record and the value that John could bring to the company, as well as John’s keen interest in pursuing the opportunity, Rob and John decided to go ahead with expressing John’s interest.
In approaching the company, Rob knew how John could be particularly valuable for them. In speaking with Henry, Rob presented John’s track record, talent, experience, and cultural fit. Rob also advised that in order to secure this profile of candidate, the position was likely going to have to pay higher.
The company agreed with the Rob’s assessment that the candidate was outstanding and would be a great match, and so went forward with the interview process. After a series of phone and on-site interviews, John reaffirms his interest in the opportunity. Despite being more expensive than the company had hoped, the value was there and Rob and Henry went to bat behind the scenes.
The management recognizes John’s value and approves a salary increase of $25K over the original requisition, an amount previously unheard of. Things are going well. John remains keenly interested. Rob fills John in the fact that this offer is pretty extraordinary for the company and is way over what they have previously done. Henry makes the offer.
Here’s where things start to go wrong. While John has no doubts that he has expressed about the company or benefits, he balks at the salary offer. John has had experience negotiating and is feeling quite confident.
John tells Rob that he wants to have more dialogue with Henry and others at the company and feel them out further. He suspects they have other cards to play that have been withheld. He wants to negotiate all aspects of the offer as to title, equity, perks, although he offers no specific requests.
After a few days of the company waiting for John’s acceptance and instead hearing that John wants to start the salary negotiation, Henry and the management team rescind the offer.
What went wrong?
How might John have handled things differently?
Rather than understanding that the salary negotiations had been going this during this whole process, John tried to take the $25K increase as the starting point and open up negotiations.
First of all, John didn’t recognize the exceptional move the company had made by offering him a salary $25K over par. He didn’t acknowledge that while this may be a big move for himself, it is certainly a big move for a smaller company. John could have expressed that he appreciated the great effort that had been undertaken to make him an increased offer.
Additionally, John offered no specific requests. Negotiations may go back and forth but there needs to be a material discussion of quantifiables. Had John offered a quid pro quo, such as “I will accept the offer and start work next week provided you give me $5K more or you offer me a company car”, or whatever it was that would have made him able to embrace the offer, he may have succeeded.
Finally, John did not continue to expression his interest. John’s emphasis was on the salary not matching expectations but he did not reaffirm his interest and desire to join the team any longer. Perhaps he was concerned that his continued interest would be seen as a weakness in the negotiation. To the contrary, Henry and Rob found the lack of enthusiasm about the opportunity became too large of a detriment.
John missed that this was the beginning of an important relationship, and after a glorious beginning, his reactions were quickly souring the milk. John failed to recognize where he was in the negotiation process, he did not recognize the effort made on his behalf, he did not offer any quid pro quo, and he withheld his enthusiasm at the time that would have probably had the biggest impact.
Rob and Henry went on to fill the position. “Every negotiation is different, and there are a lot of moving parts,” stated Rob Reeves. “Despite the disclosure and frankly coaching, unfortunately sometimes candidates can make fatal miscalculations that cost them a great opportunity.”
About the Author:
Rob Reeves, Recruiter and CEO of Redfish Technology, Inc.
Rob has enjoyed recruiting for nearly since 1995. He founded Redfish Technology in 1996, and has taken it from a predominantly West Coast Technical recruiting firm to a nationwide, full service staffing firm specializing in High Tech and Clean Tech sectors.