Hiring the right people at the right time can make or break a business. Unfortunately, most businesses wait to hire until it’s almost too late. This makes it essential to bring new hires on quickly and efficiently. You don’t want to waste time with long, drawn out negotiations when you needed someone to start yesterday. Having worked with clients in a variety of fields from manufacturing to collections, I’ve discovered that these five steps to good negotiations remain the same in any field, including hiring.
1. Do your research
One of the worst ways to slow down a new hire is by offering a salary that’s way too low. While some candidates may propose a counter-offer, others will simply walk away. Worse yet, some may walk away and tell others about how low the offer was, making it hard for you to continue recruiting. When considering what to offer, make sure to research salaries and benefits for similar positions in your area. This is especially important if this is a new position in your company, or you are replacing a long-time employee. Many employees consider perks such as flexible hours or professional development to be part of their offer package. Make sure to research perks and benefits as well as salaries.
2. Tell a story
By the time you make an offer, the candidate should already know the company’s story. Not just your history, but the story that makes the candidate want to work for you. Let’s say you describe your company as a place that manufactures parts for cars. That’s a description, but your company’s story is that you make essential components of the safest automobiles on the market today. You provide a safe work environment dedicated to the well-being and professional growth of your employees. Telling the story of your company helps a candidate understand why he or she wants to work there and what the non-financial benefits of working there will be. Your story is both a great selling point, and a great way of explaining your position in various negotiations. Your story should be true to both who you are and what the position is. Other stories of employees who are happy and growing with you may also be helpful negotiation tools.
3. Think win/win
Whether you’re buying a car or hiring someone, the internet is full of tips for how to talk people down on their price. But, it’s important to remember that your negotiations with a new hire aren’t just the end of the search process, they’re also the beginning of your relationship with a valuable employee. This makes it important that you think of your negotiations not as a situation where one of you will win and one will lose, but as a situation where both people get what they need to start a productive relationship.
4. Practice active listening
Active listening doesn’t mean sitting quietly while the other person talks. Nor does it mean saying, “I understand,” every few minutes. Active listening is a process that involves letting the other person know that you have heard and understand the concern and you are offering a solution that makes logical sense based on that concern. For example, if your candidate tells you that he or she needs more money to offset the travel costs of taking a position farther from his or her house you could respond with, “I understand our location is a concern for you. Would working a different schedule so you can avoid rush hour, or having one day a week to work at home help with those concerns?” By listening to what the candidate is actually concerned about, you may be able to find a solution that doesn’t involve more money.
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5. Get authority upfront
Everyone knows the classic car salesman technique of going in the backroom to “ask the boss” before making a deal. In salary and benefit negotiations, this is a waste of time. Before making an offer to a promising candidate make sure to have any necessary internal discussions about how high the salary can go or other benefits such as working remotely, additional vacation days, or flexible hours. There may be some requests or situations that the hiring manager does not feel comfortable agreeing to without more discussion, but try to keep the back and forth to a minimum. You want to avoid any situation where the candidate feels the hiring manager is at odds with someone else in the company.
Often, candidates and employers are on different timelines when it comes to hiring. An employer may want someone in place tomorrow, but the candidate may need to weigh competing offers. Or, a candidate may want a job immediately, while an employer is still trying to decide on a job description. Sometimes, there’s no way to reconcile these differing needs. Being open and honest about your needs and your timeline, and cutting off fruitless negotiations before they drag on too long can help you get the best people in place as soon as possible.