7 reasons to stop candidate bargain hunting

As we recover from the brink of a global collapse during the pandemic, businesses are observing nervously on the side-lines and moving into hiring mode. There are millions of open vacancies and  positions are reportedly undersubscribed and many employers have little choice of top talent. Yet reports of organisations trying to bring in excellent talent at budget, low ball salaries still seem to be around. But how wise is this decision to go candidate bargain hunting?

Candidate bargain hunting

The trend where HR Managers are issuing “plenty more fish in the sea” type statements. They hope to play on candidates’ market insecurities, without offering anything in return to buy in longer term commitment.  Strategic carrots which might be offered could include:

  • a later salary review based on results or performance
  • training or development possibilities or longer term career benefits,
  • a mentor
  • luncheon vouchers
  • extra-days holiday,
  • telecommuting and  flexi-time.

Anything! Where is the imagination?

Low ball offer

A recent MBA graduate, who has just invested €50K in his professional development told me that an HR Manager had given him a “take it ir leave it” option over a €1000 per annum salary differential (€2.7 per day.) The offer which was already 10% below the market rate was 10% below his stated minimum requirement. The company wants to see how he might “settle in“.

Message: they’re not that bothered if he joins or not!

This development is a short-sighted, ill-advised HR practise. Win/lose negotiations damage relationships in any arena and will almost always be doomed from the outset. The hiring process is no exception to this general rule.

7 ways to be better

  1. Suggestions that an organisation needs to see a candidate “settle in” sends signals about the lack of trust in their own hiring process and lack of belief in the recruitment decision. Probationary periods are normal,  but if the  recruitment procedure is top-notch, they are generally a formality. Organisations need to convey excitement about their prospective hires, not doubt. Doubt does not inspire or motivate!
  2.  HR practitioners should  think long-term and with business vision leaving room for negotiation, despite seemingly pressing budget needs. With the value of onboarding estimated at around 3 times annual salary,  this attitude is short-sighted and ultimately expensive. Salary  benchmarking differentials can also be found in the public domain so an increasing number of candidates know  their market value  (especially MBA candidates)
  3. Candidates may  indeed accept this discounted offer and then shop around for a better one, only to withdraw at the last moment.  benching is frequent in today’s climate. The company is then left high and dry. I have seen this happen far too often when organisations under-pitch their offers. The cost of an open position has to be factored in.
  4. Word gets round and damages the company brand. Playing hard ball for €2.7 per day sends out a bad message about all involved in the process.
  5. Companies which are cheap at the beginning with low-cost salary policies may not change. Candidates understand that well.
  6. The new cheap hire will leave as soon as they get another opportunity.
  7. The new cheap hire will not go the extra distance nor be totally committed unless there happens to be a visionary manager in the process or the HR Manager who took this obdurate position has moved on.  Either way, from a company perspective that leaves too much to chance.

Times are challenging and complex, but companies have many options to foster a positive attitude with a creative and flexible talent management strategy.

If €2.7 per day is a deal breaker then there is something wrong somewhere.


If your organisation needs help repurposing your recruitment process get in touch NOW! 

2 thoughts on “7 reasons to stop candidate bargain hunting

  1. Nacie Carson

    Hi Dorothy – I found this article refreshing, as I’ve known several companies here in the States who take this exact approach to bargain shopping in the economy. The idea is “You are lucky to have this opportunity, so you better appreciate what we give you (which is little)” instead of “We are thrilled to have you on board and helping us get to the next level.” It is all backwards – the candidate comes in thinking they are a burden that is under suspicion…how can they do their best work in such environments?

    Glad you shared this – someone needs too! Bargain shopping is not a HR Best Practice…like most bargain buys, you typically regret not spending more where it counts. And people always count.

    1. Dorothy Dalton

      Thanks Nacie – although times are indeed tough being instransigent on salary negotiation is poor practise on both sides of the table. Finding the cheapest candidate or trying to get a more expensive candisate cheaply can back fire eventually.

      There ae many ways to engage and motivate candidates and make them feel excited to join a company. Many of these are low cost but require some imagination. Even a deferred review based on results is better than the ” take it or leave it” approach


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