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Navigating Candidates Who Overreach on Compensation: Finding the Right Balance

by Lauren Fenech

One of the challenges hiring managers encounter during the recruitment process is dealing with candidates who overreach on compensation. While it’s natural for job seekers to aim high and advocate for their worth, unrealistic demands can create difficulties in finding the right candidate for the role while staying within the company’s budget. Balancing the candidate’s expectations with the organization’s compensation structure is essential. Here are some strategies to navigate this situation effectively:

1. Set Clear Expectations from the Start

Communication is key. Ensure that job postings and initial conversations with candidates are transparent about the salary range and benefits offered for the position. This transparency will help filter out candidates whose expectations are far beyond what the company can provide. While you want to attract top talent, it’s essential to avoid wasting time on candidates who are not aligned with your compensation parameters. At W Talent Solutions, we provide a full compensation snapshot of what our candidates are seeking for compensation.

2. Focus on Total Compensation

Candidates often get fixated on base salary, but the total compensation package includes various components such as bonuses, benefits, stock options, retirement plans, and more. Highlighting the entire package can help candidates see the full value of the offer. Some candidates might be willing to compromise on the base salary if they find the overall compensation package attractive and aligned with their career goals. We see some candidates who are seeking more vacation time are open to a lower base salary, as well!

3. Conduct Market Research

Stay informed about the current market rates for the role you are hiring for. Compare salaries in your industry and location to ensure that your offer is competitive. Candidates are likely to have done their research as well, so being well-informed will enable you to negotiate from a position of knowledge. We provide our clients with tools to ensure their compensation structure for the role is competitive.

4. Identify the Candidate’s Motivations

During the interview process, take the time to understand the candidate’s motivations beyond just compensation. What drives them? Are they genuinely interested in the company’s mission and culture? Are they excited about the growth opportunities the position offers? We discuss motivation with our candidates during the first conversation we have with them. 

5. Be Open to Negotiation

While it’s crucial to have a budget and salary range, be flexible within reason. If an exceptional candidate slightly exceeds the budget, we highly consider the long-term benefits of hiring the right person for the role. Be prepared to negotiate and find a middle ground that works for both parties. When comparing candidates, consider their entire package, including skills, experience, cultural fit, and potential. A candidate asking for higher compensation might bring unique expertise that can justify the higher cost.

6. Showcase Company Culture and Perks

Sometimes, candidates might be willing to accept a slightly lower salary if they are drawn to the company’s positive work environment, flexible hours, remote work options, or unique perks. Highlighting these aspects can help compensate for any gaps in compensation expectations.

7. Provide Feedback with Empathy

When you have a candidate whose compensation expectations are significantly higher than what you can offer, provide feedback with empathy. Let them know that you appreciate their skills but that the compensation range for the role is fixed. Encourage them to keep in touch for future opportunities that might align better with their expectations.

In conclusion, navigating candidates who overreach on compensation requires a delicate balance between meeting the candidate’s expectations and aligning with the company’s financial constraints. Open communication, understanding the candidate’s motivations, and being flexible within reason are key to finding the right candidate who will bring value to the organization and be content with their compensation package. Remember that a successful hire goes beyond just the salary, and finding the right fit for your team will contribute to long-term success and growth.

If you need help recruiting top talent, W Talent Solutions can find the perfect candidate and help you through the negotiation process to ensure successful hiring.

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