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Lowball Job Offers – The Consequences


By Paul Phipps

It’s a common occurrence; a recruiter arranges an interview, the candidate attends, and it goes well, the client requests a second interview and this goes well too.  The candidate likes the company and wants the job and the client can envisage the candidate being an asset to the company.  It’s time for the client to make an offer.

All too often, the art of negotiation is understood to mean getting the most or giving the least.  But is there more to the salary negotiation process than the numbers and what if a candidate receives a lowball offer?

A prospective employee will want to receive an offer that is in line with the market rate for a specific level of skills and experience, preferably with a slight increase on current salary.

By way of an example; a candidate currently earns £30k and has applied for a similar position advertised at £27-32k.  The interviews have gone well, the client knows the candidate’s current salary and the process has now reached the offer stage.

The employer offers £28k.  How does the candidate feel about this offer, have they really been overpaid by £2k by their current employer?  Are they really expected to take a £2k drop in the household income?  The offer is turned down and the employer comes back with an offer of £29k.

Does the candidate feel that they would be a valued member of the team?  Of course not, it’s indicative of the employer trying to get talent on the cheap and this could reflect how the employer will view the employee once in the role.

Faced with a low offer, most candidates will have second thoughts about the company and will often remain in their current role and look for another position.  If the employer then offers £30k, will the candidate be swayed in to accepting the offer?

Probably not.  The damage has already been done.  The candidate feels undervalued and that the employer is reluctantly raising the offer.  The fact that they are now willing to match the current salary, suggests that they thought that the candidate is worth the money but thought that they could get away with paying below someone’s worth.

As a specialist recruitment agency, we aim to match the skills and experience with the role and secure an appropriate salary for the candidate whilst giving value to the client.  It’s a fine balance, any employee must ‘earn their keep’ within the business and any employee should be paid what they are worth.

Within our sector (recruitment within accountancy practices) the employee ultimately needs to earn the firm more than they are paid, but the employee should feel valued.  After all, the people we place have usually spent a lot of time and often money, studying and have had to work their way up to gain the relevant experience and if they are offered a salary below the market rate for their level, who can blame them for turning down the offer?

In short, a lowball offer will usually backfire on the employer because a rejected offer will mean that the recruitment process has to begin again.  This wastes the time of the candidate, the employer and the recruitment agency and no one wins.

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