Help Me….Help You!

I make it a rule to discuss salary, compensation and the like with virtually all my candidates in the first or second conversation that we have. Make no mistake, I’m not asking for “Name, SS# and how much was your W2 last year”, but I address it at some point in the conversations. You really have to have these conversations if you

Over the years, I’ve had some very colorful responses to my question about what a candidate’s current compensation is and what they are looking to make going forward. I thought having grown up in New York, and watching 20+ George Carlin specials gave me all the dirty words I’d ever hear. Oh how wrong I was. Some people get terribly upset when you ask this, as they feel like you will pigeon-hole them into that number/package, or that there is some ulterior motive. Kinda makes me feel like a really, really desperate Jerry Maguire sometimes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-oHuogx6_Y

The thing is, I ask this because I’m trying to work with the candidate, and build trust and rapport from Day 1. By having a frank and open dialogue, we’re able to establish that relationship that allows for good matches to be made. Recruiters need to act as agents for their candidates and that representation is about trust. Have it, and you’ll have higher success rates. Don’t have it and you’ll be closing the same position five times. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve never had a candidate reject an offer based on compensation, but it is an intricate part of your process. Jessica Lee, of Fistful of Talent notes that this is a launching point for being able to have frank discussion about the candidate expectations, and the industry standards that are out there.

Candidates naturally have to have a skepticism about whether to trust the recruiter, after all, there are shlocky recruiters out there, and how can you be sure. I try to address this up front and let them know that I’m asking because there is a budget (as much as we all want to work without one) and if I know what they are looking for from the beginning, I can be sure we can get them to the front lines. Besides, after a manager gets a resume, the first question is inevitably, “How much will this person cost me?” (Don’t believe it? Try sending a profile and resume to an account manager (for TPR’s) or to a hiring manager (Corporate).

If I know the difference between the desired salary and the budget is say, 10k, I can work with that and talk with the manager. Plus, smart candidates are looking at the whole package. But if the candidate is looking for a 130k salary and the budget is 85k, why bother to take them down a path you can’t finish out for them? It’s a waste of your time, the manager’s time and ultimately the candidates time. The key here is explaining this to the candidate. And if you tell them you’ll keep them in mind for the future, do it. Call at another time down the line, check in, etc. If you tell them it’s not a fit, and you’ll refer them elsewhere, follow up and do so. Your word is your calling card.

In the end, the smart candidates will respect you for the candor. The great candidates will even know of peers or other friends that they can refer to you, either for that job or just based on the fact that you’ve proven your mettle as a viable and trustworthy recruiter. This is all just another tool in your box for building that all important positive reputation. And for recruiters, your reputation is your brand. The question is how’s your brand?


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