Convincing an employer to offer a better contract

How to negotiate a better contract

These days, it’s pretty much expected that some negotiation will be done when drawing up an employment contract. It’s crucial to get the contract right from the start, so both parties are happy with the outcome.

It’s usually the employee that’s hoping to get a better deal, so here’s some tips on how to get the most from your client, without overstepping the mark.

 

Before you start

It’s important to make sure the candidate knows exactly what is on offer from the outset to minimise the chance of disappointment. Although it’s only natural that expectations may change as more is learned about a role or company.

Before entering any kind of negotiation, clearly set out what you hope to achieve with the candidate. If you’re going to ‘pull out all the stops’, make sure the candidate will then accept the new terms.

 

How to boost a contract offer:

  • Point out the candidate has another offer

Let an employer know if the candidate has a very similar, or better offer. Tell the employer what is on offer elsewhere, but explain why the candidate would prefer to work at their company. Don’t play a game of one-upmanship, but try to reasonably push for a better deal.

Don’t be tempted to fabricate another offer if it doesn’t exist it could backfire and your candidate would be left jobless.

 

  • Explain you could lose the candidate

If a client is refusing to budge, one method of changing their mind is to reiterate the specific reasons why the candidate would be the best fit and is worth the extra wiggle room.

 

  • Point out the offer is below market

Again, it’s really important not to fabricate what the rest of the market is offering. It’s reasonably easy for this to be checked, and you’ll quickly get found out. However, if an employer is genuinely offering a salary (or other contract details) which are below the rest of the market, this needs to be pointed out quickly.

 

  • The job has more responsibility than first anticipated

It’s hard to fully convey the full details of a job in an advert, so it’s only natural that as the recruitment process progresses, opinions (from both sides) on the seniority of the role can change. If this is a significant departure from what was offered, it’s worth pointing out to the employer that perhaps a salary or contract term also needs to be revised.

 

  • Don’t be negative

Stacey Nicholl, Director of Banking and Financial Services at Communicate Recruitment Services says, “Make it clear the candidate wants the role, but there are a few things which need discussing.” The more positive you can be about the candidate’s feelings towards the role, the more likely you are to succeed.

 

  • Remind the client that starting again will be tricky

Nicholl says, “Keep reminding the client why they like the candidate and, if they had a particularly difficult process, remind them it’s in their interest to avoid going back to the beginning of the process.” This is a tactic that will only work if the client has no other candidates lined up, so pick this one with caution.

 

  • Point out when terms are reasonable

“As long as the negotiated terms are reasonable from the perspective employee and employer, most businesses would be open to a discussion before terms are finalised. A good maxim to work to would be ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get'”, says Alan Lewis, partner and head of employment at Linder Myers solicitors.

 

  • Know what you will accept (and what you won’t)

Don’t go into a negotiation simply aiming for ‘better terms,’ or ‘more salary.’ Pin down exactly what you or the candidate is expecting to receive, whether that’s an extra 5 days holiday, a longer notice period (by a finite amount), or a set amount of extra pay. It’s only by knowing exactly what you want, and what you definitely don’t want, that you’ll appear confident and therefore more likely to win the argument.

 

  • Don’t be greedy

It’s important to know how far is too far, so that you can make sure not to overstep the mark. Richard Lindsay from Communicate says, “Getting approval for hires at the moment is hard. If you have a legitimate reason for negotiating, then negotiate. If you want to ‘try it on’ and try and get more cash, do it, however getting a higher salary at the end might not happen.”

 

  • Lose the attitude

You won’t get anywhere by rushing in and making a long list of demands. Keep calm, reasoned and professional at all times, and remember you are trying to build (and hopefully maintain) a relationship with the client.

Lindsay says, “Your client is paying you to deliver a service and manage their expectations. Be genuine and matter-of-fact and, if the client won’t/can’t budge, you must accept that.”

 

What if it doesn’t work?

In many cases, no matter how hard you try, negotiations will fail or they won’t get as far as you (or the candidate) would have preferred. Don’t be despondent, this isn’t unusual and as long as you can honestly say you tried your best to deliver, then you have nothing to worry about.

Richard Lindsay says, “Don’t antagonise the client as you still want them to use you again. Remember, if a candidate walks away from the deal, the wasted time does not make this a happy time for anyone, especially the client. So don’t push it.”

Inevitably, the hardest part will be breaking the news to the candidate that a negotiation hasn’t worked. Lindsay advises, “Make sure you articulate to the candidate the reasons why. Make sure the candidate understands those reasons and ensure they don’t leave negotiations feeling worthless and unworthy of more money. We all need to feel valued and candidates will respond better if their pride remains intact.”

 

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