How to Deal With Unrealistic Candidate Demands

With the shift in power towards employees, Lee Biggins explains how to deal with big expectations from candidates during recruitment

How to Deal With Unrealistic Candidate Demands

As the UK continues to face economic uncertainty in the wake of the National Living Wage and the impending potential Brexit, employers across the nation are scrambling to plug the rapidly-growing skills gap. And while this is an issue for businesses as they look for a solution, it seems that the candidates who do have the necessary skills and qualifications are making the most of it.

Recruitment can be a notoriously tough game to play, particularly for small businesses who find themselves up against giant corporations when competing for the best talent; our latest research – compiled of responses from a variety of recruitment professionals – reveals how some businesses may have to concede to some crazy and outlandish demands to ensure that they secure the best candidates.

But we’re not talking about salary raises or an increased holiday allowance; respondents told us of candidates demanding dog-walking breaks throughout the day, fully-expensed family holidays and a daily delivery of fresh towels to their apartment…

To keep on top of unreasonable demands and ensure you still get the best talent, follow these tips.

Stand your ground

There’s only so much a business should concede to, so the question is, when should you stand your ground and keep searching for talent, and when should you give in? Simply put, the answer ultimately comes down to what your business needs and how desperately it needs it. As a company, you might already have procedures in place and a cut-off point for negotiations. But even if you don’t, these scenarios should be fairly easy to deal with; candidates worthy of their demands will often receive them, whereas the underqualified are unlikely to have the same success.

It’s fairly normal to expect enquiries around salary increases, flexible working and perhaps even a company car from a candidate who has been made a job offer, but when they forgo these and request a chauffeur-driven service to and from work each day, you’ve got a problem on your hands!

In a situation like this, it’s probably best to cut your ties with the candidate and search for talent elsewhere, and there are two reasons for this. Firstly, if you do end up conceding to the crazier candidate demands and your other employees found out, there’s a real chance that morale would drop and your workforce would suffer. You might be desperate to bring them on board, but you should ask yourself if it’s really worth it; is a new recruit with outlandish demands worth polarising your existing team?

And secondly, how you handle the candidate’s initial demands could set the precedent for the rest of their career with you; if you’ve given in once before, they’re likely to ask for even more when appraisals come around.

Take everything into consideration

But while you may be met with some ludicrous demands, you’ll also likely find yourself faced with requests or negotiations that aren’t always as crazy as they first seem; there’s often a middle ground to be found. Say for example you’ve found the ideal candidate, and you’re willing to negotiate the terms of their employment with them; and then they demand a fully-expensed family holiday or a company car for a role that doesn’t involve travel.

It’s important that you’re upfront, whilst showing a willingness to negotiate; a fully-paid holiday may be out of the question, but can you offer an increased holiday allowance? And if you’re not prepared to offer a company car, could you include some travel expenses in their contract? Of course, if the candidate isn’t willing to meet you in the middle, or you know that your budget simply won’t stretch that far, then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Meet them half way

Ultimately, compromise is key. If the candidate’s salary request is outrageous, you can either cut them loose and continue your search, or simply suggest an alternative pay package and hope it’s accepted. But it’s also crucial that you remember that not every request will be unreasonable; if they’ve done their research and know how much they’re worth, they’re likely to ask for a higher salary. And if you refuse, the candidate could potentially mistake this for a lack of interest, or a sign that your business doesn’t value its employees; if this is a candidate that you do want to join your team, it’s best to stay open to negotiations, or you could end up losing them altogether.

The rise in these situations is simply a consequence of the increasing shift in power towards candidates; job hunters are now savvier than ever, with many aware of the influence they have over the job market. Ultimately, employers who can see the bigger picture and do their best to meet any crazy candidate demands in the middle, without compromising the business, are the ones who secure the best talent. So, if you have roles to fill and prospective employees to meet, be sure to factor in a crazy negotiation process; there’s no way of knowing what candidates will demand next!


Lee Biggins is the founder and managing director of CV-Library

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