Isn’t it odd that people always say things like, “You shouldn’t talk about money during your interview,” or “It’s a bad sign if someone brings up money during an interview.” Yet 100% of accepted offers are only accepted after total compensation is agreed upon. At GTS Scientific, we believe it should not only be a life sciences industry best practice, but a best practice for hiring in general to be upfront about compensation. To be more specific, our team of subject matter experts not only talk about salary expectations with our candidates off the bat, we use compensation negotiations to entice top talent to make a career move. 

GTS Scientific consistently advises our clients and our talent to be up front about salary expectations during their interview, as opposed to avoiding the question. Following a similar logic: waiting too long to discuss compensation is like waiting until after you’re married to ask your partner if they want to have kids! Why wait until day 20 of an interview process to confirm if the total compensation package will entice you to accept an offer? 

Important Note: We are not advising to ask a candidate what they have previously made, as hiring managers should be aware of ordinances banning questions about salary history on job applications and during interviews

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Compensation Negotiations vs. Confrontations

Why would a candidate avoid being transparent with these details? Isn’t it a simple discussion between job seeker and hiring manager/recruiter to ensure the process moves as efficiently as possible?  Insert the opening scene from Wedding Crashers where husband and wife are “discussing”/“negotiating” a divorce settlement. Evidence from scenes like this show us that a discussion can move quickly into a confrontation between two sides. People have an aversion to confrontation which is why they think talking salary will turn into a heated negotiation we would see in a movie.  

From the candidate’s perspective we encourage a transparent discussion about the total compensation they are looking for. Are they looking to join a biotech startup that is pre-IPO on account of the equity upside? The recruiter then decides, let’s not set up an interview with a large biopharma company, only offering marginal amounts of restricted stock units for equity or LTI (long term incentive).  

Discussion about salary expectations from the job seeker, and clearly seeing the range that the employers intends to pay (in regards to total compensation, not just base salary) creates transparency and trust from the beginning of the conversation as opposed to a bad surprise or disappointment on the back end. Recruiting firms advising their candidates to avoid conversation about compensation goals is as misguided as telling a candidate who wants to be in a leadership role to interview for a role as an individual producer. 

From the client’s perspective, working with a 3rd party recruiting firm will allow for this topic to be broached early on, but the final decision makers should never shy away from participating since they will ultimately have the most to benefit from the new hire (And who wants to lose out on a talented new hire over a few thousand dollars, or the equity being described incorrectly or not at all, or the title on the job offer differs from the title on the job description?)  

Employers: Be clear about the compensation and the commitment. 

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Negotiation tips for employers:

Be upfront about the compensation.

Recognize that compensation is a major aspect of the deal.

• If you are working with a recruiting firm, can that firm accurately detail your total compensation package to viable candidates?

Be prepared with a counter offer.

• What aspects of the deal are negotiable? 

Continue to interview other candidates.

• Verbal offers, and verbally accepted offers are meaningless. Even when a candidate has signed an offer letter the position isn’t truly filled until the day the candidate starts. The supply for talented professionals, in the biotech industry for example, isn’t close to matching the demand. Regardless of what time of year, if you have an offer accepted and have a few weeks (over the holidays for example) before the individual starts be advised to check in with them on a weekly basis and do your due diligence asking if they are still taking other interviews or if they have received any other offers they are still considering.  Trust is a two way street, asked in the right way there should be nothing offensive about asking these questions.

Seek advice from your recruiter.

Candidates: You won’t lose the job offer if you negotiate.

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Negotiation tips for candidates:

Research the average salary in that role and geography.

• Use multiple resources, not just glassdoor as it is unclear how those salaries are validated. Speak to recruiters, colleagues, competitors and be sure to factor in total compensation and NOT just salary. 

Negotiate only with the decision-maker.

• Keep in touch with the individuals that you have interviewed with. Thank you emails after you interview directly to the hiring manager will keep a streamlined communication. If the hiring manager does insist that you work with another member of the team for details on the offer you should honor that request. 

Negotiate multiple compensation points in tandem.

Prioritize your compensation requests.

Don’t give a range.

Don’t discuss your personal financial goals or needs.

• There are bans in many cities and states and it’s unnecessary to speak about your previous salary or total compensation. You might be drastically underpaid compared to market value in your current role, to which that may be the primary reason you are looking for a new role and shouldn’t impact the total compensation at your next opportunity.  

Role play any negotiation conversations with a recruiter or a colleague to ensure you are discussing your requests respectfully but in a firm manner while maintaining leverage or a common ground. 

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Work With a Recruiter

Before a candidate can wholeheartedly agree to a contract, we believe that transparency of the offer is key. The candidate must understand what they are agreeing to. And the client can rest assured that they have a committed new hire on the way. To support you through the process of finding your next hire in life sciences, contact GTS Careers today