Well firstly id like to say how exciting it is to be writing a blog post on our newly branded blog and web site. It really has been a long time coming and I’m delighted to tell you that this new blog and site is a new visual iteration of what is going to be a very exciting period of evolution for the brand of our business; what we stand for and how that manifests into the service that we deliver to our clients and candidates. Watch this space to find out more about what we will be working on in the months to come. We’ve worked really hard on looking at every facet of our business from an operational perspective over the last 9 months so that we can continue to grow whilst maintaining precisely the sort of client care and attention to candidates for which we have become renowned
So I’ve been following a very interesting case in the office recently and I’ll set the scene. we’ve been working with a candidate who has been with his last employers for 19 years which we are all widely agreed is a tremendous achievement.
The chap has been there since he was a lad where he started off as pretty much the tea boy and worked his way up to sales director. This is no minor player we are talking about either, the company quite comfortably resides at the top of tier 2 in the sector that they operate in. He has had some good sales training and can be proud to say that he has been a significant and instrumental reason why the company is where it is today. The company is privately owned and as the owner fattens the business up for sale our candidate has foreseen the end of what has been a fabulous journey.
We have introduced our candidate to 2 of our clients. The first wasn’t quite right and to be fair the client may have misread our candidate due to the chaps own lack of experience at playing the interview game. In the second interview that we organised we hit the bull’s-eye and both client and candidate were delighted . A second interview ensued and thereafter things moved rapidly to job offer and this is where it nearly all went horribly wrong .
The first problem is that our candidate had been with the same employer for a very long period of time and genuinely as a result of having been focussed on one company for so long had no idea of how much he was worth. The second problem was that our man was overpaid . Not because he is a bad person but because his employers had over a period of time been smart enough to give him a number of incremental pay rises above and beyond the market rate as well as a host of benefits beyond what can usually be expected in the market. This wasn’t that significant an element of the problem as we got to know our candidate and he began to understand the nature of his own predicament.
The real challenge was the way our chap handled his job offer. Our client made a job offer that was perfectly fair in relation to the general market rate for a position of this sort. Our candidate rejected the offer outright with immediate effect. It was a very big and very aggressive play and one that we counselled fervently he shouldn’t make. Firstly because we had a fee riding on it that we didn’t want to lose and we didn’t think there was anything wrong with the job offer and secondly because the right advice to give was to stay calm.
Our man didn’t stay calm though, he instantaneously turned the job down saying it wasn’t paying enough in comparison to his previous salary and the flabbergasted and slightly hurt client said “no deal” then.
No deal was a big surprise and disappointment for everyone concerned. It was late on a Thursday night and i rang my man in the car on the way home. He sounded shaken , he had just blown an enormous deal. I was a bit frustrated and couldn’t help but ask what had been on his mind when he so fervently and emphatically rejected the offer. “First rule of negotiation – never accept the first offer that they make” he told me. He went on to tell me that there was always “skin in the game” and that you always push on the first offer.
How wrong we were.
so what was the real error? the first one was assuming that he had to have a win. He already had his big win. he had been offered the job and beaten quite a bit of stiff competition to the opportunity. He was offered the going rate for the job and made an upward career move.
The second was that he had assumed he was dealing with a client that he could metaphorically hand to a project manager and consultancy team after the ink on the contract was dry and that just wasn’t the case. He wasn’t dealing with a client but with someone far more emotive and nervous about the decision he was making. He was dealing with the economic buyer, the user buyer and most importantly he had forgotten that he, the product was someone that the buyer would have to live with after the deal was done and by pushing so hard the client got slightly spooked. he had forgotten what the other guy was thinking.
So what do we learn.
1. Work with a good diplomatic recruitment consultant who will save a lost offer for you at the last minute with a bit of Ban Ki-moon tact and genius as we did in this instance.
2. Remember when you negotiate a job offer that the product that you are selling is finite and that you have to implement it, and BE IT and that you wont b able to divorce yourself from the intensity of the negotiation when you are sat next to the guy in a car at 5 am on a wet Monday in February on the way to an appointment .
3. If you are offered a fair and sensible deal in relation to what you know is your market value then take it . Remember that negotiating a job offer is NOT the same as negotiating a sale and the objective is not always to get as much as you can. The objective with a job offer is to get a sensible package that you can live on and with until you start to earn bonuses and commission.