7 Ways to Handle a Request for a Higher Starting Salary

The search is over and you’ve found the perfect candidate to fill that vacant role.  And so you offer them the position, but then the candidate decides to throw the proverbial spanner in the works and ask for a higher starting salary than you originally budgeted for.

So what do you?  As a hiring manager you have to do your best to negotiate with the candidate to make sure that if you do decide to give them a higher starting salary that you are not upsetting the internal pay hierarchy.  Otherwise you could be facing discord in the ranks, or a spate of pay rise requests that could blow your staff budget out of the water.

But there are methods of negotiating yourself out of this awkward situation.  I’ve listed below seven ways of handling this request for a higher starting salary and hopefully one, or a combination of some, will help you avoid paying that higher starting wage:


Starting Salary: 1. Give yourself time

Don’t feel that you have to give the candidate an immediate answer to their request for a higher-than-budget salary, irrespective of whether your answer is going to be.  By telling the candidate that you will need time to discuss the matter with colleagues and senior management, it will plant a seed of doubt about their request and help them realise there are other barriers to getting their request through.


Starting Salary: 2. Ask the employee for evidence to back up their request

Of course we’d all like a higher starting salary and if the candidate you have offered the position to is worth that bit extra then you should be able to get their request through.  But if you have doubts, then it is worth asking for some evidence that you can then take to senior management who can consider their request.

Defer some of the decision making to other parties not present, and put some hurdles in place, so the candidate can see that while you are open, it will not be an easy ride and he or she will need to justify their case. This approach may help to deter the ‘chancers’, but the more determined will keep on pushing.


Starting Salary: 3. Show the candidate a total reward/compensation statement

Ask your finance team to prepare a Total Reward Statement which includes both a base salary and a monetary valuation of any benefits they will receive so they can see the full monetary value of their package. The package may indeed be worth more than they realise, which could convince them to accept a lower starting base salary.


Starting Salary: 4. Clarify the non-financial benefits they receive

Put together a non-financial benefits summary for the candidate which details all the non-financial perks such as commitment to flexible working and work life balance.  Non-financial benefits can really mean a lot to some people, for example, if the flexible working hours results in a reduction of their childcare costs, they will be happier working for you than your competitors.


Starting Salary: 5. Consider introducing performance related bonuses

Even if the employee isn’t in a position to directly affect revenue, e.g. they are not in sales or production, consider giving them a performance based bonus which is contingent on the company also reaching their financial targets.  This will be a win win scenario as the employee will get higher pay and the company gets improved performance to boot.


Starting Salary: 6. Guarantee a pay rise after a probationary period

Explain to the candidate that although you can’t offer them a higher initial starting salary, you can guarantee a pay rise if they achieve certain targets once their probationary period has been completed.  This will help the candidate realise that the business is flexible and willing to negotiate, but equally won’t just hand out salary increases to all and sundry.


Starting Salary: 7. Benchmark their salary request against the market and your internal pay structures

Is the salary request higher than the market norm or does it blow your internal pay structure out of the water?  You need to tread carefully.  If you do choose to pay a higher salary than the market/internal norm, you will risk creating pay disparity in your business which will have an adverse effect on morale.

If you do decide to take on the new person on a higher salary, you may find that you have to raise salaries of comparable internal staff to maintain parity and that could be an expensive exercise.


Thanks for reading and should you require any further help finding that next big move, or if you are looking to recruit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here, or you can join the LinkedIn Response Knowledge Network here.

Otherwise feel free to get in touch with me personally, via Twitter or LinkedIn using the links below.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sean Mulligan
Sean Mulligan
9 years ago

There is only one way. Retract the offer.

A candidate should never be at offer stage unless he /she is ready to accept having re confirmed the bottom line at first second and final offer interview stage.

I would advise my Client to retract and avoid this individual at all cost.