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Economy > Retention > Survey Results > Talent Acquisition

Are Potential Employees Scoffing at Your Salary Offer?

Woman rejecting a job offer“Employers are at an advantage in our current economy.”
“Candidates will take any offer you make because they need a job.”
“It’s an employer’s market — candidates can’t expect to make what they used to.”

Heard any of these statements lately? Think they’re true yourself and are abiding by this philosophy — or know a company that is? Well, companies with this mentality may be in for a rude awakening, as the idea that all unemployed workers in our current market will “take anything” just to get a paycheck is a misconception. Evidence of this is shown in the survey just released by Personified, CareerBuilder’s talent consulting arm, among 925 unemployed U.S. workers. The overwhelming majority of unemployed workers surveyed who have received a job offer since unemployment have rejected the offer because the offer was too low. In fact, 17 percent of unemployed workers surveyed have received at least one job offer since they’ve become unemployed, and of those people, a whopping 92 percent rejected the offer. More than half (54 percent) reported that they did so because the offer was more than 25 percent lower than the salary they had earned in their most recent position.

Many unemployed workers are looking for the right job

Although many unemployed workers are eager to start earning a paycheck, not all of them are willing to jump at the first thing they can get. And really, as an employer, would you want them to? I mean, sure, you may need to hire people quickly, but you still need to find quality employees who  truly want to work for your company and are going to stick around. Otherwise, you’re just getting warm bodies who are going to walk right back out that door once they find something better (or with better pay, or prestige, or opportunities, or — well, see below).

Job offers not paying off for other reasons, too

While insufficient pay was the number one reason unemployed workers turned down a job opportunity, workers had other things to say about the jobs they were being offered — and the companies offering them.

Other factors cited include:

  • A long commute
  • A lower title
  • The position was outside of their field
  • Little room for career advancement
  • A poor hiring process.

“Rather than jumping on the first job offer that comes their way, workers are assessing which opportunities really make the most sense for them in terms of compensation and long-term potential,” said Mary Delaney, President of Personified.

While the above factors are not always in a company’s hands, there are certainly things employers can do to improve the hiring experience for candidates and enrich the opportunities of the job position in question. And while it may be true that a job is better than no job, and desperate times call for desperate measures, and (insert cliché phrase here), many unemployed workers are looking for not just a job, but a job that suits their lifestyle and long-term goals — and they’re willing to wait a bit to find it. And didn’t our parents always tell us, the best things come to those who wait?

How often are the hunters hunting?

Speaking of waiting, some unemployed workers aren’t spending much time looking for jobs; 18 percent reported they spend five hours or less per week searching for a job. While it’s true that some of those workers may also have inflated expectations of what’s out there in terms of jobs, thinking they can get the job of their dreams without much or any effort, this appears to be the exception rather than the rule.

Many are treating job searching like the full-time job it often is: Thirty percent of those surveyed allocate more than 20 hours a week, and 62 percent apply to an average of more than ten jobs per week. The amount of time unemployed workers are spending searching for jobs also trended by education and pay levels; see full details in the press release here.

If you mean it, they will come

Candidates and employees, whether in an up or a down economy, deserve to be treated with respect — and even in a down economy, they still need to know you fit into their goals and have their future in mind. If you’ve tried working the numbers every which way, made sure your compensation strategy is solid, and just can’t pay more than you’re offering, you’ve at least made the effort — and that’s when you can focus on making your company offerings shine in other ways. Start with your employees — the things they love about their job are likely the same things a potential employee will love about it, too. It’s not always about the money — and a candidate may really want to work for you because of the great career advancement you offer or your awesome company culture or your stellar reputation. Everyone is different, and that translates to different motivations. Our own readers on The Hiring Site shared the factors — both abstract and tangible — that make their company special and sell their ideal candidates on the job.

It’s the companies with the “candidates will take whatever they can get” mentality, the ones who take advantage of the situation unemployed workers are in by grossly undercutting what workers are worth, who need to adjust their way of thinking.  Otherwise, they’re going to be left with a lot of empty seats where employees briefly sat before moving on to that job they really wanted.

Thoughts? Completely disagree or see it from another angle?

Amy McDonnell

About Amy McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the creative services manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
3 comments
Jay
Jay

It is nice to read articles like this. Many companies today are seeking a professional yet they themselves don't present their company in a professional manner. People who have talent in their field and who also have a reasonable education (bachelors or greater) are schooled and know low ball offers, wasted multiple interview process and so on.

If a company is serious about hiring then put the interviewers in a room and get on with it. Time is money for everyone and there time no more or less in value than the potential hire candidate. One interview, a background check and such will tell you pretty much if they fit your needs. The wasting of candidate’s times just so a manager can say he or she interviewed 20 people for the job is extremely rude and the word does get out about “Time waster” companies.

I have had multiple offers from several companies that I won't even speak to now after I went through their interview process. I found out a lot about these companies. Many are disrespectful, arrogant and self serving. Many forget an interview is about an information exchange and it’s never or should not be one sided. I interviewed the company while they were interviewing me. I knew within a reasonable time they were not a place most with true talent would want to work at. They were paycheck jobs, paycheck positions.

Anyone who took a position from them was using it as a “carry-over” position or they simple were not top notch material themselves so the company got the answers they wanted and a bad employee to boot. The added cost to a company to not move swiftly and in a timely professional manner only hurts their pool to select from and possible gain a bad reputation as a company with a revolving door. Again, no place most want to work.

The opposite is out there as well. I have seen it done correctly but they are few and far between in this economy mainly because of exactly what this article points out, ARROGANCE on the company’s behalf.

The good companies attract the good or great talent regardless of field and regardless of pay. Good companies pay well because they know you get what you pay for. They know those who have the buy in will work harder than most and the true gain from them far exceeds their salary. I am very glad CareerBuilder’s posted this article; maybe some employers will wake up and rethink their interview process so they can get true talent as at reasonable price.

Aaron
Aaron

This article could not be more than 100% correct. To have a College degree, and have worked not just anywhere for 5-10 years, but in good positions where I made a difference... and be unemployed and looking for a professional position.... Has been a very difficult struggle for me.

In the Pittsburgh PA market, I demand at least $50,000+/- depending on the Ben/package, and I have been a 6 figure employee in a different geographical market. I simply flat out refuse to work and do an excellent job, to make some one else rich.

What I find, is that respect in the search/review/interview/offer negotiation/hiring process is hard to come by. In fact, many of the people conducting the search/interview/hiring process, are so disconnected from the 30-45 year old productive worker process. It makes me sick that I've sat in interviews with Corporate Exec's making $250,000/yr and a second or third interviewer who makes less money that I'm seeking. Folks, Twitter.com/Facebook.com/Linkedin.com and other things are becoming common forms of communications. I've been to interviews where they cant turn off their CELL PHONE for the interview.

One final though. Monster.com/CareerBuilder.com/Craigslist.com and other 3rd party job sites, have provided me with good job leads... BUT I'm at the point where I flat out refuse to apply from some positions that are posted on these sites due to the poorly written job posting, the idea that the job posting might not even be legitimate, because after application/resume upload etc. I have been bombarded by phone/text/facebook/twitter etc from people wanting to hire me into a desperation job selling insurance or some other financial scam. How did they get my information?? From that 3rd party site. **If you are a legitimate company, write, or hire some one to write your job postings, host a career section on your own website, and if you are using a head hunter or service, STRICTLY FORBID selling candidate information to any other potential employers... Monster.com etc... bunch of referral selling crooks.

Oh and by the way, when you are searching for a candidate, people who are working their way through unemployment in something that the professionally excel at like teaching for a Ski School, Trip Leading White Water Rafting Trips, working part time as an EMT or Ski Patroller, renovating realestate, reconditioning and reselling a few used cars etc... Have a set of SURVIVAL SKILLS that are invaluable in todays cut throat economy!

Aaron
Aaron

This article could not be more than 100% correct. To have a College degree, and have worked not just anywhere for 5-10 years, but in good positions where I made a difference... and be unemployed and looking for a professional position.... Has been a very difficult struggle for me.

In the Pittsburgh PA market, I demand at least $50,000+/- depending on the Ben/package, and I have been a 6 figure employee in a different geographical market. I simply flat out refuse to work and do an excellent job, to make some one else rich.

What I find, is that respect in the search/review/interview/offer negotiation/hiring process is hard to come by. In fact, many of the people conducting the search/interview/hiring process, are so disconnected from the 30-45 year old productive worker process. It makes me sick that I've sat in interviews with Corporate Exec's making $250,000/yr and a second or third interviewer who makes less money that I'm seeking. Folks, Twitter.com/Facebook.com/Linkedin.com and other things are becoming common forms of communications. I've been to interviews where they cant turn off their CELL PHONE for the interview.

One final though. Monster.com/CareerBuilder.com/Craigslist.com and other 3rd party job sites, have provided me with good job leads... BUT I'm at the point where I flat out refuse to apply from some positions that are posted on these sites due to the poorly written job posting, the idea that the job posting might not even be legitimate, because after application/resume upload etc. I have been bombarded by phone/text/facebook/twitter etc from people wanting to hire me into a desperation job selling insurance or some other financial scam. How did they get my information?? From that 3rd party site. **If you are a legitimate company, write, or hire some one to write your job postings, host a career section on your own website, and if you are using a head hunter or service, STRICTLY FORBID selling candidate information to any other potential employers... Monster.com etc... bunch of referral selling crooks.

Oh and by the way, when you are searching for a candidate, people who are working their way through unemployment in something that the professionally excel at like teaching for a Ski School, Trip Leading White Water Rafting Trips, working part time as an EMT or Ski Patroller, renovating realestate, reconditioning and reselling a few used cars etc... Have a set of SURVIVAL SKILLS that are invaluable in todays cut throat economy!

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  3. [...] mindset.  Because they won’t. Job seekers are being more and more particular when it comes to accepting job offer, according to a recent survey from Personified, CareerBuilder’s talent consulting arm. Of the 17 [...]

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