This post was written by Derek Cameron, Associate Director of Employer Relations in Cooperative Education and Career Development.
It doesn’t take Luca Brasi or an ill-fated thoroughbred to successfully negotiate a job offer. As a matter of fact, most of the negotiating takes place from the first point of contact and candidates can improve their lot with just a little bit of homework.
“We’re going to invest a lot of money and time into this person so there’s a lot of risk involved”, says Brenda Mitchell ‘92, Senior Recruiter for Criteo, a Paris-based market leader in targeted online advertising, with a new office in Boston. “When I’m talking with a candidate I’m looking for their value proposition, right from the first point of contact, so I know what compensation range they fall into. A student graduating college hasn’t really proven themselves in the workplace, like someone who’s been on the job for 2-3 years, so I look for the value they can bring in right from school. If I see a student has completed 2 co-ops or 3-4 internships I know they are going to take less time to ramp up and that’s important when bringing someone on board.”
When an employer picks up the phone or emails a candidate about an opportunity they’ve determined that there is value in reaching out to that person. From that point on they’re trying to determine three essential qualities:
- What skills and experience can the candidate can offer?
- How quickly can they offer it?
- How do they fit, personality-wise?
This comes in the form of a variety of tools such as: case interviews, behavioral questions, competency tests, team exercises or coding challenges. If a candidate has done their homework on the company and assessed their skills and experiences this goes a long way in making it a smooth process. Making it even smoother is if the candidate has also done the necessary salary research.
“I like to soft-close the candidate along the way and will ask them up front what type of research they have done to evaluate themselves in terms of compensation. If they state a number at the beginning that seems much higher than what the current range is I’ll ask them how they came to that figure and have them explain it in detail.” If a candidate has done their homework ahead of time they should be able to provide metrics and specific examples to justify the number and in many cases this proves successful.
Considering the wealth of salary information available online it’s never been easier to run the numbers and get familiar with how much a position, in a particular market and company is going to pay, so by the time an offer is made there shouldn’t be any great surprises. Even if the employer hasn’t broached the subject in the first couple of discussions it’s still important to do that research early.
Another important takeaway in doing this, is it also gives the candidate critical insight about how the organization may values its employees. If an employer makes an offer far lower than research indicates or the entire benefits package looks shoddy then it could be a reflection of what the company may be like to work for. “A poor offer package is a good indication of a poor company,” shares Jon Camire, VP of Risk Modeling at Unum Group, a Tennesse-based disability insurance company. “A company that values its employees is going to offer the best benefits it can so if you’re getting a competitive package then it’s a pretty good indication the company cares about its employees.”
If you’re going through the interview process or think you’re about to receive an offer don’t forget that Career Development is also here to help you. Feel free to set up an appointment with a career advisor or if you’re pressed for time come on in during walk-in hours.
Just remember: It’s nothing personal, just business.
Derek Cameron is a member of the Employer Relations team and when he’s not helping develop jobs then he’s either out walking his dog or working the grill.