I mean I'm not saying no, but...
August 19, 2015 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Okay, hiring managers and HR folks of AskMe. Suppose your company has a job opening, and you've interviewed a candidate. Things went pretty well, and you want to make that candidate an offer. You have your recruiter call and ask him for his salary requirements, and he gives you a number. What are some reasons why you might then come back and make an offer that is $10,000 more than what he was asking for?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The position has a grade/guideline that has a set salary minimum.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:18 PM on August 19, 2015 [18 favorites]

In my experience, it's because the established salary range for the position is higher than the candidate's stated salary requirement. It's problematic to have people not making market rate for their job, particularly if you want to hire for other similar roles and need the range to be higher to attract the best talent.
posted by vunder at 5:19 PM on August 19, 2015 [25 favorites]

Two big ones come to mind:
-The candidate underestimated their own abilities / the going rate of the position
-You really, REALLY want the candidate to accept the offer, especially if there are other companies pursuing them
posted by joan_holloway at 5:19 PM on August 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Yes. They generally know what they want to pay and what they are paying for similar roles. Or they just really want to make sure they get you in the case you have multiple offers, etc.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:19 PM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

You have a workplace parity policy in place, either because you are an ethical employer or you have smart lawyers.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:29 PM on August 19, 2015 [16 favorites]

Because you really want that candidate and you want to let them know that in a meaningful way. Particularly if the offer you make reflects what they are worth, not just what they think they are worth -- that shows you have credibility right from the get go, even when you have superior information.
posted by bearwife at 5:30 PM on August 19, 2015

You probably guessed low on the salary they'd pay. They don't want to under-pay you for the job and then have you go off to another company.

Did it match up with glassdoor salaries for other companies? If what they're offer meets the low average, then you probably would've been able to ask for a 10% higher salary.
posted by just.good.enough at 5:30 PM on August 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

Because the candidate's salary requirements are $10k under the market value for that postition. Bad things can happen when an employee finds out that (a) they make a lot less than others in their group that do the exact same thing and have similar experience, or (b) when they finally realize they could be making a lot more at another company willing to pay them market rate. Also, it's just fair...pay people what they're actually worth, not what they think they're worth just because it's cheaper for the company.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:31 PM on August 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

Because you very much want this person to take the job.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:35 PM on August 19, 2015

They think the candidate is highly qualified and likely to be getting other offers. They know what kind of salary other prospective employers are likely to offer the candidate. And they don't want the candidate to pick a different job based on being pleasantly surprised by the high salary offered by the other company.
posted by John Cohen at 5:40 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Because if they take the job at the rate they quoted, then later find out that it's far lower than what they "should" be making, they'll think you as a business are rats.
posted by amtho at 5:41 PM on August 19, 2015

There's a union or another salary scale and it's not at all negotiable.
This person is in a protected category and they've had issues with underpaying people based on this category in the past.
posted by jeather at 5:55 PM on August 19, 2015

how big is the company? where i work they'd do this just because they're nice guys and you pitched too low.

paying people different amounts for the same job isn't always smart. i left my first job when i found out i was being paid less than some dufus who came on a month later.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:56 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was actually in this position recently on the hiring side, where we had a salary range in mind and the candidate came back with something way lower. Here were my concerns:

- This person has hilariously underestimated their own value, perhaps either out of modesty or lack of confidence or desperation or ignorance or some combination of these, and one day, perhaps soon, will realize their error and either demand an enormous raise or bail.
- I am not particularly comfortable screwing over a qualified candidate just because they messed up and undervalued themselves; this does not at all jibe with my general philosophy of management.
- On the subject of raises, it is easier to justify raises of a reasonable increment than huge ones, the latter of which is what would be required to bring their salary up to the level that the market supports.
- The person would be making so much less than their predecessor that it would raise questions among our board (we're a not-for-profit) that it'd be easier to elide by paying them what they're actually worth from the get-go. For instance, having one person in your organization earning drastically less than everyone else calls in to question every one else's salaries, especially if that person is otherwise highly qualified and demonstrably competent.

I would also like to point out that in all likelihood their tacking $10k on to your salary demand means that you actually underestimated the maximum they would have paid you by at least a solid $20-30k. Better luck next time.
posted by saladin at 5:56 PM on August 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Because you want them to stay with the company for a very long time and you know that starting them out $10,000 under what they should be making will eventually get back to them and cause bad blood.
posted by myselfasme at 6:13 PM on August 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

N'thing salary band. Also, are you a remote employee? Is the company based in an area with a higher cost of living? The salary band may be set against people living somewhere expensive when you live somewhere cheaper.
posted by jzb at 6:18 PM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

The company I work for now has set salary ranges for every position, based on things like region, market value, time in the position, etc. They won't hire someone for lower than the base salary for that position; usually the offer mid-range to new hires.

This came as a very pleasant surprise to me when I moved to the Boston area after years working for a Chicago firm that severely underpaid me. I originally asked for 10k more than I had made in Chicago; my ask turned out to be almost 10k less than the very bottom of the salary range for my new position.
posted by kythuen at 6:19 PM on August 19, 2015

Even when the salary bands are flexible, there is the "internal equity" consideration. If I expect you to have more responsibilities than Bob and less than Alice, I will want to pay you in between the two. And as a manager during hiring is the easiest time to get money out of HR--giving you a $10k raise next year may be impossible.

So it could be from HR or could be from the manager.
posted by mark k at 6:35 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's the salary band. Plus, you don't want someone coming in and learning that they lost out because they simply didn't ask for more.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:50 PM on August 19, 2015

Not in HR, but I can see this happening if the candidate said they were considering several other offers, and maybe even named the companies that they had interviewed at. (This has happened at my company.)
posted by deathpanels at 7:09 PM on August 19, 2015

Offer the requested salary, then give the person a $10k raise at 6 months (provided that your agreement with the recruiter permits that). No point in paying the recruiter extra for an employee you want.
posted by spacewrench at 8:02 PM on August 19, 2015

Pretty sure the poster is talking about the internal recruitment team?

Pay band, but more importantly what others in the department with similar skills/experience/education are earning. At many larger companies a pay grade can vary by $40k-60k, but if you're a business analyst for the X function of the company it's likely that the range among business analysts in that department will vary only by $10k-20k.

For instance, my pay band is huge but I was offered $6,000 more than I asked for. Their offer bumped me into the top third of the pay band, and it's clear that they were bringing me up to what the other folks in my position were making.
posted by good lorneing at 9:00 PM on August 19, 2015

where i work they'd do this just because they're nice guys

No they would not. No one gives up even a thousand dollars and hands it over to an employee just to be "nice." They would much rather keep that thousand dollars for themselves if they could do so without hurting themselves. They're doing it because of some combination of internal policy, legal requirements, and incentives for the employee — to take the job, to stay at the job, and to do a good job.
posted by John Cohen at 9:11 PM on August 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

The candidate lives in an area with a dramatically lower cost of living, and thus when you translate that to the area the job offer is actually located in, the offer "you" are making may actually be lower in real dollars, despite being $10K more in faceplate dollars. Realizing this, you are actually lowballing them and they don't realize it. So, it would be in "their" best interest to look at that carefully.

(Since I don't know where the candidate is currently living or where the offer is located, that's pure speculation.)

But sometimes, you just really want that candidate, and $10K over their ask is a big message that "yes, we'd really like you to work with us." Doubly so if you know they're talking to other people and may be getting offers. Triply so if you know they are getting offers -- what you're trying to do is get your overbid in fast and hope to win the auction before it starts.
posted by eriko at 4:19 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

>> where i work they'd do this just because they're nice guys

> No they would not.

Yes, they would. I've worked several places where this was not uncommon. I'm in the process right now of working to get a pay raise for an employee to get them up where their peers are, simply because it's the right thing to do.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:35 AM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

> I would also like to point out that in all likelihood their tacking $10k on to your salary demand means that you actually underestimated the maximum they would have paid you by at least a solid $20-30k. Better luck next time.

Seconding this; it happened to me. I never provided salary demands though and the offer was about 35% more than I was expecting so I just accepted and didn't negotiate. Turns out it was still a lowball offer, I just didn't realize it at the time since I didn't understand the market very well. It's taken me several years, lots of hard work and a couple promotions to get up parity with my peers.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:35 AM on August 20, 2015

A variety of factors:
- The candidate's salary requirements are way below the salary range for the position at this company
- The hiring managers really, really want the candidate
- There is appropriate wiggle room within the salary range/grade so that more money can be offered
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 6:33 AM on August 20, 2015

I just did this yesterday. It's because I want them to take the job; and also I have someone else in an equivalent role and I don't want internal disparity. I'm giving the new person exactly what I gave the peer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:03 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Because you misunderstood what the candidate asked for. When I went from a firm to a government agency, I said that my salary is X and I'm eligible for an annual bonus of Y. I'd like to keep my cashflow the same. I intended to communicate that a salary of X was acceptable and I would sacrifice the bonus. I was offered a salary of X + 1/2 of Y. It was definitely a miscommunication.
posted by mchorn at 11:23 AM on August 20, 2015

I bet the recruiter will get their big check too, so I suggest that you have that consultant invite the candidate back to you for one last meeting and break the news yourselves, giving him credence for why he deserves this extra money. While the recruiter did their job, they may not have the management experience to maintain a candidate's willingness to now accept the role, based on this new information. If you plan to be this forward, you should discuss benefits with him alongside those who already earn those benefits, so they can make the case for why this employee should join them.
posted by parmanparman at 11:43 AM on August 20, 2015

Also seconding spacewrench's answer above.
posted by parmanparman at 11:45 AM on August 20, 2015

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