Balancing Candidate Salary Expectations Against Your Company Budget

26 July 2022

With so much talk of a candidate-driven market, it’s not surprising if some job applicants set themselves unrealistic expectations as to the kind of salary they can command. Even with a skills shortage, companies have to make their numbers work and if their only strategy for attracting the most talented people is to throw money at them, this will prove unsustainable.


Does that mean the quality of your staff is limited by your spending power? Not necessarily. Many employers assume that a simple dynamic applies in every employment relationship, which revolves entirely around salary. Yes, wages are important, but don’t assume it’s only the money that attracts employees and convinces them to stay. It’s entirely possible to offer a competitive but realistic salary within the constraints of your recruitment budget and still attract excellent candidates. It requires lateral thinking and an understanding of the other priorities applicants might have.


If you routinely ask interviewees about their salary expectations, what are you trying to judge? It boils down to three issues. Firstly, can you afford them within the recruitment budget you’ve set aside or will you have to revise it? Secondly do they appreciate their own value to your company and the industry? Thirdly, are they too senior for the role?


Whatever their answer reveals, this is only a starting point. If you know they want more than you can pay, it means it’s time to think creatively about the package you can offer.


An Employee Value Proposition is a useful term to describe all the benefits you can offer that are not directly financial but which contribute to an employee’s quality of life and work. That can include hybrid or remote working, flexible hours and holidays, guaranteed work/life balance, health and well-being support. Offer the chance to assume leadership responsibilities, pursue projects on individual initiative, undergo training and personal development courses, attend conferences and travel abroad on company business. For some, the promise of working with the very latest commercial technology can prove irresistible.


In addition to these personally focused benefits, it’s also important to concentrate on your company branding, ensuring that you have a company culture and set of values to which candidates can relate. Today, there is a far greater emphasis than ever before on policies regarding diversity, social justice and environmental responsibility. A company that pursues growth with a genuinely ethical approach is a much more attractive prospect for many people, especially those who are young and ambitious with a social conscience.


Clearly, there are many areas in which an employer can make a considerable difference to a prospective employee’s private and professional life. This can more than compensate for a salary that may not be at the top of the scale but which doesn’t put pressure on the company budget.


However, there are other options to consider, such as upskilling and internal promotion. Instead of looking outside your existing workforce, consider the capabilities of current employees, whose experience and commitment to a tech career might qualify them for elevation. If necessary, they can be mentored into the role if they have the potential to meet the challenge. Alternatively, you might consider recruiting at a lower skills level and train a promising newcomer until they are ready to take on greater responsibility.


What’s the other option? Not hiring at all. It certainly saves you money and all the effort of recruiting and training, but isn’t it just hiding from the reality that for your business to grow, you need new talent. Redistributing duties amongst existing employees is rarely a satisfactory solution and risks the devaluation and even neglect of those duties. A smart, flexible approach to hiring is a much more sensible choice.


Whichever path you choose, it’s not straightforward. That’s why it is worth investing in a partnership with a talent provider who understands market conditions, is conversant with current salary scales and can accurately assess a candidate’s value.


That is precisely what RMG Digital offers. We give you guidance and support throughout the process, and apply our experience and expertise to achieve perfect outcomes.


Why not contact RMG Digital today and start planning your organisation’s future now.

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