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Negotiating your employment terms

Simon Foulkes
November 17, 2021

Over a third of candidates don't negotiate on salary and terms during the recruitment process. Here's why negotiating from the offset can lead to long-term role success.

Just recently I’ve been negotiating with both a candidate and client on salary, package and terms and it got me thinking about how under-utilised this strategy seems to be within the shore-based sector of yachting.

Personally, I’ve always negotiated with my prospective employer. Even my current one! In my experience, everything is negotiable if the right circumstances are created. In all scenarios I’ve been involved in lately, negotiation has ended positively, with agreements reached that suited all parties and resulted in some great placements that otherwise may have withered on the vine without a middle man to keep the dialogue moving forwards. 

Unfortunately, we’re often stuck in the more traditional modes of thinking when it comes to remuneration. A 2020 survey by salary.com revealed that only 37% of candidates negotiate on salary and terms. That’s an incredibly low number, probably driven by a fear of rejection and failure, and a naivety around how to create a position of value from which you can negotiate.

For instance, when I’m getting to know a prospective candidate, I’ll inevitably steer the conversation towards salary expectations. A simple and valid question, but one which is rarely answered with clarity or insight.

Typical responses are:

  • “Well, I’m earning X at the moment”
  • “I’m not sure, I don’t really know”
  • “Its not about the money, I want opportunities/progression/great culture etc”

All valid and genuine responses of course, but hardly an ideal starting point from which to be diving into a job market. The old adage ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’ is always true, but here it’s extrapolated to ‘if you don’t know your value, you’ll get the lower end of what’s advertised’.

Additionally, without a carefully thought-out starting position, you’re putting yourself at risk further down the line when things could be going well. No one likes surprises unless it’s a birthday.

I know that sounds terribly glib. The hard work around negotiating salary and package is done well in advance of sitting down to discuss it with a prospective employer. Understanding your value and worth as a candidate is a skill you can develop, as is selling your value at each stage of the engagement. We can talk about this in another blog, but it’s vital that you’re able to take the employer on a journey that shows and tells why you are asking for X.

Another key part of this process are the questions you’re asking the hiring manager. These should be crafted to uncover what is motivating the client to make this hire. Again, another subject worthy of its own blog in the future.

This is a two-way street of course. To gain, you may have to concede, and this is the art of negotiating. What are you prepared to give away? What can you flex on? What can you offer in return? Both parties must feel they are gaining something.

Having your priorities and realistic expectations clearly mapped out in advance puts you in a much stronger position when the conversation gets down to the business end. You need to communicate these from the start to your recruitment agent.

As a recruitment specialist, I’m also asking these questions of my clients. I want to know what they can flex on and what is essential before I present them with excellent candidate options. Without wishing to take all the credit for the placements I mentioned above, by getting everyone around the table I was able to broker these deals because I knew both parties’ positions.

Effective negotiation which leads to an all-round compromise is actually crucial to your long-term job satisfaction and the employer’s value for money from the hire – and something that recruitment agencies do extremely well.

I’m happy to help with any of the points I’ve covered here. A little preparation, a plan and a trusted recruiting partner can often get everyone a great result.

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