Think About the Whole Package, Not Just Base Compensation
Recruiters create opportunity for people. They create opportunity for companies looking to hire. They create opportunity for passive candidates who might not realize their value until the right job comes along. We can’t say it enough: what gets us out of bed in the morning is the opportunity to place people in career-defining jobs.
Still, some candidates see recruiters as pests – approaching them with opportunities that might not be right. These candidates throw up roadblocks to considering possible opportunities. There’s one particular roadblock we want to talk about today, and that’s when candidates see an opportunity only in terms of base compensation and not the total package.
It happens surprisingly often. We’ll get in touch with a candidate in our network about an opportunity. They’ll indicate interest – maybe because their current job isn’t doing it for them anymore, or they feel like they’ve advanced enough in their skills to make a move. Maybe it’s just one of those days. They’ll express excitement. The location works, the company’s great, the role sounds interesting, and then the conversation moves (as it always does, inevitably) to compensation. The candidate asks the recruiter for the salary, and when the recruiter tells them the base salary, they’re immediately uninterested.
But wait, the recruiter says, there’s more to it than that. But the candidate is closed off, unwilling to consider a role at (say) a 95k base salary because they’re already earning 90k. It’s not a big enough jump. Or if the base compensation is the same, it feels too much like a lateral move. It’s an almost psychological barrier that sometimes prevents people from thinking about the bigger picture.
The fact is, there’s more to compensation than a base salary. And there’s no reason to wait until a job offer is presented to think about the other factors that make a job worth pursuing. To think about the other elements of compensation that top companies dangle in front of candidates to attract the best performers. Base salary isn’t everything, and we want to dig a little bit into why you shouldn’t let it be the be all and end all of whether you consider an offer:
First of all, companies are more and more willing to offer competitive bonuses at the sole contributor level and above. And they’re building these bonuses into a compensation package before an offer even comes along. They’re also offering signing bonuses more often to attract the right individual.
For the right candidate, companies will also offer competitive vacation beyond the standard 3 weeks in Canada, as well as personal days. At the sole contributor level and above, they’re also more often offering paid relocation to a different city because they understand that great talent can come from anywhere. Company car allowance might also enter into the picture, or beefed-up benefits packages. Or opportunities for tuition reimbursement for continuing education.
Perhaps most of all, the biggest factor to think about beyond base compensation is the ability to go far within a company. It’s worth making a lateral move, or even taking a slight dip in base compensation, to move into a role with real potential for growth. It’s something we’re always impressed to see in a candidate: the willingness to look at the bigger picture, to see where they might be at a company five years down the road instead of only looking at the basic yearly salary. For example, we placed a Strategic Sourcing professional in a Sole Contributor-level role 7 years ago, and she’s now a director at that company. The initial salary boost wasn’t large, but this candidate looked at the bigger picture, and now she’s in a leadership role, making a higher base salary than she would if she’d stayed in her previous job. And, ironically, that never would have happened if she’d only considered base salary when making the move at the outset.
The thing is, there are many different ways that companies show their commitment to investment in the best candidates. Base salary is only a small part of it. So next time you hear from a recruiter, take a moment to learn about the full range of compensation, and make sure to keep an open mind beyond thinking only about base salary.