Salaries and candidate value within a highly competitive market

By Chantelle Smith, HR Company Solutions

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In a tough economy where there are more highly skilled and value candidates actively in the job market, and an increasing skills shortage, the battle to attract and retain the best candidate for a particular vacancy is a very real and pertinent matter to deal with.

All companies have the same thing in common, they’re looking for the best talent that money can buy. When it comes to candidates in the market, there is a growing trend for the search for meaningful work and to be part of a company that has a heart and soul. They are looking for career and personal growth and that involves a number of things, including salaries.

A survey conducted in the market stated that 67% of job seekers are attracted to particular jobs in their searches by the salary, and 63% by the benefits that are included in the salary packages. So, despite the various reasons that candidates have for wanting to pursue new opportunities, they are fully transparent about their salary needs.


Not only do candidates make judgements about whether or not to consider applying for the job based on the salary, but also to assess if that potential employer holds long-term potential value for them.

The key word there is value, and the fact of the matter is that most Candidates feel undervalued in their current roles.

Recruiters ask candidates what their salary expectations are, because they are trying to assess what they value themselves at in a very competitive market. Often, we find candidates with expectations that are above what our clients’ job ads state, because they’re already earning a great salary, and recruiters are then faced with the dilemma – do they put that candidate forward despite them being in an already higher salary bracket or do they discount them from the process altogether?

The thing is, when quality candidates are excluded from the hiring process based on salaries, it’s detrimental to both the employer and the potential employee. It limits the scope of identifying the value of the candidate’s future contribution and instead puts a price tag on talent from the word go. Often, the candidates with the lower salaries or those in line with the job ad, are not the right ones because they will often lack the right skills, personality and experience to fit the job.

Why not give that candidate the opportunity to meet with you for an interview and allow them the opportunity to present their value in terms of the alignment with the company culture, vision and values, how significant they can be to the company and the value they can add through new ideas and innovation and how they can lead new processes and add a new dimension to the role at hand?

Most often, the higher paid candidates that may be above your job specification’s salary, are the ones that can bring the most value to your company because they have worked hard to earn their promotions and increases to earn the salaries they do. It’s all been a result of hard work and proven abilities, years of service and, in most cases, a qualification to go along with it.

What recruiters advise our clients to do in these cases, is the following:

  • Write an accurate job description so the duties and responsibilities are clear and salary can be appropriated correctly – don’t have a role with extremely critical duties and responsibilities, a Degree and 6 years of relevant experience,  matched with a salary that an entry-level employee would earn, you won’t attract the right candidates. “You get what you pay for in the end.”
  • Research the market-related salaries thoroughly using external sources. This will give you a better idea of what you should be offering a new hire based on their skills, experience and qualifications in the role that you have on offer, thereby placing the right value to the role. “You’ll be surprised at how many companies are actually under-paying their staff.”
  • Ensure that your Hiring Managers are trained to make salary decisions. Make sure they have been involved in accurate performance reviews and are aware of market-related salaries as well. They will see the worth in a new employee based on what value they can bring, they’re the ones interviewing the candidates after all.

The talent market is a tough one and with many companies fighting for the same talent, it’s imperative that you are able to offer the candidate the right salary to get them to accept it and join your team. Paying the right salary will attract and keep the best talent, it’s a fact. It shows that you value your employee and it boosts their self-worth and will ensure they stay. It’s not just about attracting the right talent, it’s retaining that talent that will continue to give you the competitive edge you need in the market.

With staff turnover on the rise for reasons involving salary, you’ve got to make sure that your top talent doesn’t go looking for something better either.

Along with money, candidates also look for the other intangible benefits that a new opportunity brings; those being elements like a clear career progression path, being associated with a top brand in the market, having a purpose in their role and being significant to the company, and ultimately, an absolute asset to the company that cannot be lost. So, make sure your benefits are attractive to the candidate as well. Speak to their intrinsic goals and motivators too.

Chantelle Smith – Recruitment Specialist at HR Company Solutions
Chantelle Smith, Recruitment Specialist, HR Company Solutions

When you decide to hire a candidate purely on them having a ‘cheaper’ salary expectation, you are putting yourself at risk for higher costs down the line. The cost of replacing that person should they not be the right fit based on their performance, or they leave for “greener pastures” and better pay, is more than it would have cost you to pay the right salary upfront. On average, it’ll cost a company 1.5 to twice as much to replace that person than it would have to make the right hire in the first place. Not to mention the effects on morale and productivity in your team.

Recruiters tell their candidates to own their worth and advise their clients to recognise the worth that their potential new hires have.

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