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August 2011

What Should You Do When A Candidate Asks For More Money After A Job Offer Is Already Made?

A note in a LinkedIn Group led me to answer the question of what to do when candidates ask for more money.  It's important to note here that I have no problem with candidates asking for, and receiving more money.  It's my job as the recruiter to understand that before the offer is made.  If it does happen, I've already erred, and now have to fix it. 

Here's how to go about doing that. 

Ask yourself why they did it.

1) They figure this was the best time. 

Many candidates are taught to ask for more, under the idea that they are to wait until they have maximum power.  Your moment of maximum power is actually between the verbal and written offer, but most don't know that, and don't think of it until something is in their hand (they don't realize that paperwork puts restrictions on managers.  The more there is, the harder to get it changed, and the worse the manager looks.  Thus, pre-written offer is the maximum power, because it doesn't cost the manager political capital to acquiesce).  Many candidates are also just negotiators who believe there is no harm in asking.  If either of these is the case, you have an easier road to travel. Figure out if you can get more money, or if it's worth asking, and give them a smile and a raise. 

2) They want to see how far they can push you. 

Some candidates are just contemptuous of recruiters in general, and they figure they'll put the screws to you because they can - those people won't stick around, and they're like a poison when they are in the company. If it's not a must-have hire, ask yourself which would be worse, dealing with a manager after losing a candidate, or asking for more money.  This question has more to do with how much power you have in the company, but if a candidate is putting it on you to solve their problem, you need to be prepared to punch back.

WHAT TO DO

Fear and vagueness are your enemies here.  What you have is a situation where the jobseeker is counting on you to cower in fear and go back to the manager, because they don't respect your authority to end the process.  To combat that, you need to get specific, and address the issue as a valued partner in the discussion.

Speak to the candidate and ask them why they waited to bring this up. Most of the time they'll say,

"the job is different than they were led to believe."

That's a good answer, so pin them to it.  Ask them in what way the job is different then the description, your interview, and the interview with the manager.  Get them to give you specifics of why they believe it is more complex. Get them to write it down.  Expain that you're going to have to go back to the manager with these specifics to determine if it warrants a raise.

Ask them when they begin to believe the position was different than advertised, and at what point they knew they wouldn't take it for the salary offered.  Get them to write that down. 

Then ask them what they plan to do if the offer is half of what they are asking for.  Will they turn it down?  What if it's a quarter?  What if there is no raise, and this is a take it or leave it offer?

All of these questions are negotiation questions that will give you the information you need to know if you're being bargained with in good faith, or if the candidate is stalling for another company, a counter-offer, or isn't interested without a big pay bump.  The more specific you are, the more locked in they get, and the more likely you are to determine if they are going to take the job.  At this stage, it's not about the money, it's about whether you can take them at their word. 

If they give you all of the information, and it looks solid, you have one last thing to ask.  Ask them if they are prepared to take the job at the salary offered, or at their new figure, if you come back with it.  Make sure they understand that the "thinking" for the position needs to occur before you go to the manager.  If you get what they ask for, or even if they don't, you're going to ask for an on-the-spot answer when you return, with a solid start date. 

Discuss with them how and when they plan to resign their current job, and give them a deadline on that as well.  You can't afford any more stalling, and if you're forced to go back to the manager a second time, you might as well cut it short there. 

If you follow these steps, you may still lose the candidate, but only if they planned to turn it down or leave anyway. 

 

 

 The problem being, of course, it makes it look like the candidate didn't understand the position during the interview process, which will lead to a reevaluation of the offer. 


Plead paperwork. Ask how long they are willing to wait to renegotiate the position. This will tell you quite a bit. If they are happy to wait, they aren't serious. If they want it down quickly, it's probably the first scenario where they're just trying to get more out of it. 

The negotiation process should give you the information you need to make a decision. Once you get that information, lock the candidate in with specifics. How much they want. What they'd accept. If they'll turn it down if they don't get it. Do Not, under any circumstances, let them get away with sending you back to the manager just to ask. Force them to a decision, get them to agree, making it clear that you are the decision maker, and that you're not an errand girl.


St Louis Needs To Understand Its History

In the 1930's, St Louis was one of the biggest cities in the country.  I think we were number 6.

At one point, we were a major advertising and financial hub, with companies like Edward Jones, AG Edwards, Stifel Nicolaus and others anchoring the largest trading desks outside of New York and Chicago. 

In fact, last I checked, St Louis was the number 2 Trust Fund city in the country.  That has positive and negative impacts, but it's something few people know. 

St Louis saw a net migration of 60,000 Californians in the last decade, mid-career professionals taking their families and buying homes to set down roots. 

We have national names like Enterprise, Peabody and Arch Coal, Monsanto, and yes, even Anheuser Busch still counts.  Don't forget First Data, Citimortgage, and Mastercard out in St Charles County, as well as Emerson, Hardee's, and large portions of ATT in town. 

There is a lot more, but I bring these thoughts up because the biggest thing that's missing from St Louis isn't business or travel hubs or even laws.  It's attitude.  We don't know what we have, and do a terrible job promoting it to the world. In short, we have lost our sense of history, and in that, we have lost our way. 

When I first moved back to St Louis, at the ripe age of 28, I read two newspaper articles that rocked me. Heck, it might have been the same article, or comments added.   It was about the St Louis Rams, how they were too good a team for the region.  They were described as a trophy wife team, not a good solid housewife like the St Louis Cardinals used to be.  The reasoning went that St Louis isn't a glitzy town, used to scoring touchdowns with superstars.  We were a city of cowards, filled with the descendants of people who reached the West Bank of the Mississippi and were afraid to go any further West.  Those with courage conquered the wilderness.  We stayed here. 

I know you've read and heard that kind of sentiment before, and it perfectly illustrates a failure to understand history. 

My family settled in St Louis a long time ago. A great, great, grandfather shipped mills down to what is now Sauget and went back to collect his family when they were set up.  Sadly, his partner disappeared, as did the mills, so he returned to nothing. His response was to set up a small trading post for those heading West.  That's the family story. 

When you dig deeper, you find out the trading post was closer to a 19th century Mall of America, providing huge amounts of goods from river traffic to settlers. My ancestors weren't cowards  afraid to go West.  They were capitalists who saw opportunity and got rich selling to those who wanted a little freedom.  St Louis wasn't a city of cowards, it was the Gateway to the West, the launching point for the dreams of Manifest Destiny.  We were a hub, with a rich history of colorful characters and a stake in the growth of the nation. 

The wealth that flowed through the city altered us, and left a legacy of buildings and towns and names that is largely unexplored by the current population.  I've spent a fair amount of time in the local libraries, reading about the history of St Louis, from the names of men like LaClede to the histories of Dogtown and Lafayette Square. I've read court proceedings and arrest warrants from US Marshalls.  I've looked at the lampposts and the historical pictures and looked at the map of the city, how roads like OIive and Manchester came to be.  I've read about Forest Park being considered a waste of money, because who in their right mind would travel that far west.

St Louis has a rich history, one that speaks a compelling case for pride.

And yet we do not know it.  We do not promote it.  We don't celebrate who we were, but instead wallow in false comparisons of who we are.

St Louis has changed greatly in the last decade.  We've seen an influx of highly talented people with roots in the community who moved here for quality of life. To keep them, and to bring more, takes more than tax credits and county commissions.  We need to explore the history of the region, and learn what made St Louis a great city.  

That is the way forward. 


A Job Search Is Good For You

I just finished lunch with a guy looking for work.  We were talking about the job search, and he mentioned this is the first time he has been looking for work in two years, but more important, it's the first time he actually had to look-look for work in his career.  Over 20 years of getting jobs from networking, and he's finally had to learn how to look for a job. 

So with my trademark sensitivity, I told him it was good for him. 

Luckily he understood me.  He understood that failing to exercise job search skills over your career leads you into siloed thinking.  By definition, you can only know what you know, and thus anything outside of your experience is unknown.  So if you can't get a job, it's because that skillset lies outside of your experience. 

And if the skills that lead to a succesful job search are outside of your experience, it's fair to ask if those same skills would be useful in your current position. 

See where I'm going? 

1) Job Searches help you hone your networking skills, which can be used to better evaluate market data. 

2) Job searches help you understand what its like to be a jobseeker, which makes you better able to empathize with applicants you might hire.

3) Job Searches can (and should) force you to think about doing old things in new ways, or new things in old ways.  Without the safety net of a job, you're forced to work outside your comfort zone.  

4) Job Searches teach you how to sell yourself and explain your experience.  That's important for internal promotion. 

5) Job Searches make you focus on your finances.  Losing your job is scary.  Thinking about what you'd do if you lost your job should also get you to improve your financial situation before you're forced to. 

Many people say the best time to look for a job is when you have one.  What they mean is that you don't appear desperate.  I think it's because practicing for a job search can make you a better employee. 

In the case of my new friend, his job search is expanding his horizons, and he's going to be a better employee when he is hired.  He's in a learning mode, which is valuable in every situation. 


Recruiter Needed, With A "Proven Track Record Of Success"

There's a job posting that crossed my desk, looking for a networked recruiter with a "proven track record of success."

Normally I glaze over such comments, much like "people-person" on resume, or "energetic self-starter."

This one made me laugh.  A Proven Track Record of Success.  In a sales position, this makes sense.  Someone who has proven they can make money for the company is an asset.  And recruiting is a "sales" position.  But how would you measure a track record?

A recruiter is after all, at the mercy of the jobs laid in front of them.  They do not get the luxury of picking their jobs, or working directly with the manager, or negotiating rate.  I've seen mediocre recruiters bring in 100K because they worked on the right team, just as I've seen people flounder at base pay, who went on to stratospheric career heights after leaving a bad situation.

How to judge?

There is no objective criteria to measure "track record of success."  For some people. it means a placement a week.  For others, it means a placement a month.  For some, it's just means having worked on a fast paced team where you made 300 placements together in a tight time frame. None of them explain how the job would affect you. 

It sure does sound nice, though. It's a warning - only apply if you're a winner

Seems there's a better way to say that.  It tells experienced people that 1) you aren't very good at writing job descriptions, or 2) you've had problems hiring in the past, and will expect the new employee to perform where everyone else has failed. 

 

 


Texting Versus Phone Calls: Understanding Gen Y

I have a new intern, and we've spent a lot of time together in the last two weeks, walking through how to do marketing, recruiting, sales, customer service, as well as talking about trends in his generation. 

One that struck me as strange was the idea of texting before calling. Talk to Gen X or Boomers, and you'll hear that not calling someone on the phone is a sign of cowardice.  I certainly thought so, as I've been trained to believe that most people experience call reluctance. 

Call Reluctance is a fear of picking up the phone, either because you're afraid of what won't happen, or what will. It destroys careers, and is a serious problem for salespeople, which is why sales managers are always barking, Get On The Phone!  You have to make the salespeople more afraid of not picking up the phone. 

It then stands to reason, that someone who won't just call, is afraid of doing so, probably from some character weakness.  I've heard that many times. Heck, I've thought that many times. 

So I asked.

Here's the response:

"Of course I text people.  Usually to tell them to call me.  It sure beats having them answer the phone and saying I'll call you back, or leaving a message that then have to listen to, and then call me and maybe get me maybe not."

What we consider a failure to communicate person to person is really a desire to save time and not perform an action that is worthless (calling someone who cannot pick up the phone, but who does so out of obligation). 

I guess I learned something today. 


Independence Day 2011: Freedom To, Not Freedom From

Today is not just July 4th.  It is Independence Day. 

It represents a leap forward in human progress, a period when a nation was born as an ideal.  Pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, giants strode among us, risking everything (and many losing it all) to give you the opportunity to live as free men and women. 

Today, you have the freedom to start a business.  You have the freedom to start a family.  You have the freedom to choose your friends, and to advance your prosperity through the application of your talents. You have the freedom to worship as you choose, in the open, without fear of reprisal.  You have the right to assemble and demand your representatives listen to you.  You have the right to say no when a government seeks to take away your firearms, or search you without consent, or even to quarter troops in your home. 

These are not freedoms given to you by a government or a benevolent dictator.  They are not granted by Supreme Court Justices or Acts of Congress and they are not guaranteed by police officers or soliders or corporate executives.

They are the inherent rights of free men, given to them by the Creator.

Uncle_sam_-_I_want_you

Whether you choose to exercise those rights, or whether you choose to hand them over to a self-absorbed elite in a far-off capitol is your choice.

These rights exist, but not in a vaccuum.  We created and continue to support a legal framework where the government can not infringe on these rights, no matter how much they deem it for our own good.  

Freedom.  It sure sounds great.  Are you ready for the responsibility? 

Yes, responsibility.  Freedom is the freedom to.... the freedom to do.  It is not the freedom from. 

There is no such thing as freedom from hunger. 

There is no such thing as freedom from unemployment

There is no such thing as freedom from fear.

There is no such thing as freedom from disease.

There is no such thing as freedom from want. 

 

Today is no different than any other.  Each day is a struggle to survive, and an opportunity to build a better world for our progeny.  No politician has ever been able to provide this for us, and no politician will.  There is only freedom, and the illusion of freedom. 

Make today your day of Independence.