Money isn’t everything, but salary negotiations are a key component of the recruiting process. Play hardball and you may land a desperate-for-a-job, under- qualified candidate who quickly doesn’t pan out. Or you could offend a highly qualified candidate who loses interest and finds work with a competitor instead.

Six Tactics For Salary Negotiations

Few like to talk money, so here are six tactics to consider in your salary negotiations.

1. Understand the position and the company culture.

Get a good idea of what the company has to offer and paint that complete picture for yourself before you begin the offer and negotiation process. This will help you sell the job and the company, as opposed to just checking the education and experiences boxes and hoping the candidate accepts the price tag.

2. Know the market values for the position and for the geographic area.

Be well versed in the numbers and what it takes to achieve them. Don’t wait to do research until after the candidate has made a counter offer. If the candidate is relocating, be ready to educate them on the adjusted cost-of-living for the region where the position is located. At a loss as to where salaries are at given the fluctuations in government contracting? The compensation survey is a great place to start.

3. Include a salary range with the job description.

This is your first salary filter. Sure, there’s an off chance that you could convince that stellar candidate to work for 20K less at your company after s/he sees how awesome the company is, but the chances of you wasting your time are greater. Candidate’s pay is dependent on experience, so make that clear even when you identify a broad salary range in the description.

4. Don’t Play Salary Poker

If you choose not to include a range in the description, make sure the salary expectations are in the same ballpark early in the recruiting process. Salary negotiations do not have to be like a poker game. Don’t wait until the end of the process to reveal your hand.

5. Present the full package

Once you move past the salary range conversation and you are ready to make an offer, present the total package to the candidate. Company culture, training opportunities, flexible work hours plus the total reward package should be included. Don’t forget to itemize the monetary rewards so that the candidate can clearly see the true value of the offer. If you think the offer could be a hard sell, a face-to-face presentation is best.

6. Be prepared to negotiate.

A candidate who wants to negotiate salary is someone who shows confidence. Be sure to leave some room in the offer for negotiating, but don’t lowball them with the initial offer. The negotiation process is about relationship building. Be prepared to ask a candidate for salary expectations and justifications for a higher starting salary. Know what bargaining tools you have to offer. You might not be able to increase the starting salary, but you might be able to offer remote working or flexible work hours. If money is the driver, raises could be tied to performance goals. The game doesn’t have to be over when you hit the top of your salary range.

The salary negotiation process doesn’t have to be miserable. The key is to do your homework first, be open and upfront with the salary numbers and ranges, and be prepared with rebuttals.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.