When it comes to salary negotiation tactics, so many blogs, books, videos, and other resources aim to help out job seekers. But how about salary negotiation tactics for employers, particularly those looking into hiring engineers? Read on to get the best tips on strategies and build meaningful partnerships with your engineers through a good head start.
According to 2021 statistics released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineers get the highest starting salary on average. On top of that, engineers of any specialization get paid an average annual salary of USD 91,010.
The graph above shows all the specialized engineering fields with differing salary benchmarks. Product Design Engineers, for instance, fall under “Engineer, All Other” and are paid an average annual salary of USD 107,060.
With consideration to salary benchmarks, ethics, and fairness, how do you as an employer ensure that you have a competitive compensation package for your engineers? Also, one of the challenges of being in charge of hiring is offering attractive pay while staying within your company’s budgetary restrictions. So, how can you build that bridge that lets you and your prospective candidate meet in the middle?
What is Salary Negotiation?
Before diving right into salary negotiating tactics, you must first know its role in hiring engineers, acquiring new talent, and overall employee retention.
Engineers look for employers that compensate and value their skills, time, and accumulated experience. Others might have numerous job offers to consider, so competitive compensation packages play a vital role in securing and keeping life-long partnerships.
Also, you can gain valuable insight into an applicant’s expectations on how they want to be paid for their labor through negotiating employee pay within a suitable range for a job post.
Lastly, as your current employees gain more experience and skills throughout your relationship with them, expect that there will come a time when they will seek out higher pay. The tips you will see here may also help you when renegotiating.
Employer Salary Negotiation Tactics You Should Know
The goal of negotiation is to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. For that, preparation is crucial. Here are some tips on what to do before you sit down with your engineer candidate and start negotiations:
- Do your research.
Before starting the hiring process, have a solid understanding of your company’s allotted budget and the market salary benchmark for engineers in your area. Engineers add much value to a company, and your job offer must be curated with that in mind. So how much do companies pay their employees with similar engineering roles?
Now, after seeing the average pay for engineers in the US, start with conducting market research and compensation analysis locally. This data can give you valuable insight into calibrating your job requirements properly and offering competitive benefits.
- Set a range upfront.
It is important to set a reasonable and competitive maximum and minimum limit within your company’s budget and let your applicants know about it. Consider the different factors influencing your salary offers, such as an engineer’s specialization, experience, industry connections, and growth plans. All these factors differ from candidate to candidate and can help you distinguish their value to your business.
Your base or minimum salary limit guarantees that the engineers you hire get reasonable pay for their workload. You will not need to look someplace else to get a fair wage. On the other hand, your ceiling or maximum salary limit is set to ensure your company can afford all labor expenses when taking on new talent. Lastly, you must set a salary range that makes sense in the context of how much your other engineer employees are paid.
- Highlight employee benefits.
Remember that monetary compensation is only a part of a whole compensation package. Including flexible workdays, time off, bonuses, education fees reimbursement, personal and professional development opportunities, and healthcare benefits in the discussion will make working for your company all the more attractive. Some candidates might even favor benefits over monetary gain, and you must be prepared to discuss what additional benefits you can give to an employee.
- Do a targeted search.
According to Data USA, there were over 200,000 engineering graduates in 2019, and this number is growing by 1.57% each year. So, if you’re looking to hire engineers specifically, visiting job fairs and universities to look for industry professionals is a good strategy to have. You can offer job-specific perks and industry-related benefits to lure prospective candidates. On top of that, you get to promote your brand and spark their interest in your company’s work.
- Offer additional monetary perks.
Try offering candidates a signing bonus to make your job offer even more compelling if your budget allows. For both fresh graduates and engineering veterans, immediately receiving cash to live on while waiting for their first paycheck or final pay from a previous employer eliminates risks on their part and helps them arrive at a decision that’s favorable for you and your company.
Now that you have done all the preparations needed, time to start the negotiations. Here are some tips on how you can smoothen the onboarding process using negotiating strategies when hiring engineers:
- Set and determine expectations.
First, offer a specific number to your candidate within your set range. Since you’ve been upfront about your company’s salary range for the position you’re offering, this gives both parties some room to agree while avoiding unnecessary disappointment and unrealistic expectations.
It never hurts to ask about your candidate’s expected salary during negotiation. If the expected salary is higher than your initial offer, that is fine. If the candidate is willing to negotiate, compromising will not be a deal-breaker if they start with asking for more than the highest possible pay in your given range.
Don’t be intimidated. Asking directly for a fair wage shows that a candidate has initiative, self-awareness, and confidence in their skills.
- Always expect and prepare for counter-offers.
Asking for higher pay and better benefits is part of the negotiation process. Keep an open mind, and do not equate this with disrespect or disinterest. Making employees feel valued and want to stay on your team for a long time starts in the hiring process.
However, notice how your candidates handle interactions throughout the negotiation process. Are they excited? If not, then maybe they have received much better offers. Overall, this might give you additional ideas on calibrating and improving your company’s compensation packages as a whole.
- Be transparent.
Do not waste their time and yours by dangling more than what you can place on the table. If you have reached the limits of what you can offer and both parties cannot arrive at an agreement within budget, be firm on what your final offer is and leave it to the candidate to decide whether to accept or not.
Start an honest discussion. Be clear and do not promise perks that you can’t deliver. Instead, highlight the benefits you can give and end the negotiations on a high note.
- Do not expect an answer right away.
If both parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement at the end of the talk — that’s great! However, it is a good salary negotiation tactic to let your candidate spend time thinking about your offer.
Also, it is ideal to ask them when you can expect their answer, without putting pressure on them. Be patient and see that you’ll get engineers under your team who have confidence in their decision to join your team.
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