The Subtle Art of Negotiating with Talent (And What You Can Do to Perfect It)
Negotiating with talent begin at the CV level. On average, 99.99% of the CV’s that will land in our inbox will scream TALENT, that’s their job, to catch your attention.
CV’s are scripted to reflect what we’re searching for, some of them are even edited by specialists. If we find a CV that feels right, our next move is usually to do a bit of research, make some phone calls and search for additional information in any way possible.
But even then, we might not find the talent we’re searching for because everyone wants to project a winning image when searching for a job, but when push comes to shove, few can back their claims.
Indeed, finding talent is extremely hard. But if you think that’s difficult, try hiring them once you found them. Negotiating with talents always reminds me of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.
You know that you found a massive fish, you’ll do everything you can to hold onto it, you already imagine all the wonderful things that will happen if you do, but reality knocks on your door sooner or later, and you find that you lost a lot on your way, or worse, you have nothing to show for.
The reason talent negotiations are so hard is due to the simple fact that talents know their worth.
When they arrive, they try immediately to dominate it because they don’t want to waste their time, and the task of ‘choosing’ the company they’ll work for is a top priority for them, all the rest is white noise.
Interviewers will get interviewed, and fates will be decided by the candidates, because professionals who are really good at what they do, get to choose.
Steve Jobs famously said, “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people, so they can tell us what to do.” Steve job was adept at finding, hiring and retaining talent, he knew how critical they were to the growth of his company.
Rest assured, you don’t need to be Steve Jobs to hire top talent, you just need to follow the usual ques, with a few subtle differences, and prepare, no hoop jumping required.
Talents, in the end, are people, just like you, they care about certain things, and they have their own goals and dreams.
Once you understand that, you’re able to plan their onboarding. Sure, it’s not your conventional recruitment effort, but they’re not your conventional recruits, are they?
When asking top talent what’s the most important things for them in their new position, they usually focus on four elements.
#1 The process of negotiating with talent beings with people they work with
The people around us are the reason for everything we do, social bonds connect us to each other in many ways and can influence our decisions, especially when it comes to an ecosystem such as our work environment, a place where we spend most of our day.
Taking active measure to ensure that our candidates feel at home, even before they start working, will go a long way and improve our chances to recruit them by virtue of our company’s social adhesiveness alone!
For instance, when you take your candidate to a tour through the company and help them to interact and bond with fellow employees or team members, you’re establishing a bond that will influence their future decisions.
How engaging? How active? That’s up to you…
If you’ll take this to the next level, and you need too because we’re talking about top talent here, they’ll not only remember it, they’ll even talk about it with other people.
This btw works on all talents, regardless of their managerial levels, for instance, if you’re a manager, you care about the three parties involved in your management scope, those you manage, those who manage you, and your parallels.
By creating an engaging activity that will include all parties involved as a part of the interview, you effectively bond your new managerial talent to the company by creating a mental image that will run continually in their head.
That image needs to be of success, possible opportunities, and connectedness.
#2 The money they’re earning, and the perks, oh the perks
If you want to attract top talent, you need to provide a competitive wage, but as any talent knows, money doesn’t make you happy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”
Now that you know what money means to people who have no financial issues (i.e., people who earn $75,000- $83,000 per year), you can focus on what really matters to them, the perks you’re providing,
Sure, when it comes to wages, you’ll have to pay the extra 10-20% to attract them in the first place, and probably some equity if you’re a startup. But perks will close the deal, that means a pension, amenities like free gym memberships, food, distance from home, the ability to work from home, at work kindergarten, the list goes on.
In addition, helping employees to progress in their own career paths is highly important as a perk, this means to provide the ability to progress from within to better roles, and progress from the outside via training.
Perks are the glue, but as I mentioned before, nobody likes to feel alone. If perks are not distributed across your company and are not a cultural thing, then your future recruit will find no joy in them and will lose interest in your company quick, that’s the way it works.
#3 Work expectations and autonomy levels
“The caged bird sings of freedom” -Maya Angelou.
People value their autonomy, and personal freedom probably more than anything else. But different candidates perceive the concept of autonomy or freedom in different ways. For instance, when asked about the concept of freedom, some consider their work as a means of escape, running away from a troubled life or the noise at home. Others consider their work as a cage, that forces them into a routine they must perform to keep their homes intact.
That’s why it’s important to explore what’s the candidate’s definition of autonomy and freedom and provide the conditions that will allow them to thrive in their new position.
This includes but is not limited to:
- How many hours per day they’re at work.
- Will they except out of office calls or emails.
- If they’re willing to be on call.
- The level of ownership they’ll get to enjoy over their tasks and projects.
- And even how much they’ll be commemorated for their achievements.
Work productivity was researched from top to bottom, we already know that more hours doesn’t mean higher productivity, so feel free to create the conditions that will help them feel happy, because happy employees are 12% more productive, and unhappy ones are 10% less productive.
#4 The focus of your company
It’s true, some companies can attract talents just by virtue of what they’re doing.
It can be the company’s targets, it can be the software they’re building, it can be the tools and technologies they use to achieve their targets, and it can be the way they adopt new technologies over time.
Not all companies get to be exciting all the time, in additional, what’s exciting to one, might not be exciting for others. If you feel that your company is not projecting that exciting image, you’re not alone, almost everyone feels this way.
Whether you know it or not, your company is exciting, you just need to get creative and find the right angle to communicate that.
Candidates care about what you’re doing as a company, if you’re investing in your company and doing something interesting, use that as a selling point, just don’t overdo it.
Best of luck in finding your dream talent!
About Adi Assaf
I specialize in talent recruiting that answers your culture, values and recruitment needs. I believe that great teams fuel growth, and you don’t need to settle for less. Drop me a line if you need a great team