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Negotiating Salary Requirements with Veteran Job Candidates

Prospective employers have a salary negotiation “window” from the time they offer a position to a candidate, until the offer is accepted. The way this negotiation goes determines not only how much the candidate feels valued and wanted by the company, but also whether the employer is enthusiastic about the new hire or feels like s/he lost. Here are some hints for negotiating salaries for veterans successfully. 

Hint #1: Be Upfront About Salary

Employers are often advised to provide at least a salary range, if not a final amount, upfront in the job listing for the vacancy. This helps you to avoid getting inundated with candidates who are either overqualified or under-qualified for the job. Instead of wasting your time interviewing people who will never accept the compensation you’re offering, you’ll attract applicants who might work out.

Hint #2: Find Out the Candidate’s Compensation Ambition

Attracting and retaining top talent in a company requires giving prospective employees what they want, so it’s essential to determine what sort of compensation they expect for a certain job. Many military veterans have valuable transferable skills that your company could benefit tremendously from, but they aren’t going to work for less than they are worth in the job market. Another factor in this process is finding out what your candidate has earned to date, and adjusting your salary negotiation to the same range.

Hint #3: Pitch Compensation at Your Top Contender

It’s important to determine well ahead of time how much flexibility you have for negotiation salaries for veterans. During the interview, you’re likely to discuss salary, benefits and working conditions, and it’s best to keep silent about what you can offer until you’ve determined what your top candidate might want.

There’s no point coming right out with the fact that you’re trying to save money on a position, if in fact you’d be prepared to pay top dollar for the right person in the job. Choose your highest and lowest options, then evaluate where on the scale each candidate fits before offering a particular compensation level.

Hint #4: Highlight the Benefits of the Position

For many military veteran candidates, benefits are just as important as compensation. While you aren’t legally allowed to quiz a candidate about their private life, family structure or any other issues that could be discriminatory, you can listen for clues that they might let slip or provide deliberately. These include whether the applicant has a family or not, or if anyone in the family has special needs or requires additional care. If you have a great benefits package, playing up these advantages could help the candidate make a decision in your favor.

Hint #5: Consider External Factors

How badly you want a particular candidate also affects the level of compensation you’re prepared to pay in salaries for veterans. Factors include:

  1. The importance of the position to your organization
  2. The scarcity of skills and experience available to fill the position
  3. Career progression of your preferred candidate to date
  4. Labor market value for the position you aim to fill
  5. Economic conditions in the organization and your area.

Be careful not to “over-capitulate,” which could make the difference between fair compensation and paying salaries for veterans outside of your comfort zone. The latter is bad for all parties, and nobody wins.  

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