Salary Quote, Please

February 15

Have you ever lost a hire because no one was around to give you a salary quote? Did you ever interview a candidate that wanted to know up front what the salary would be? Most recruiters have probably experienced both of these scenarios. The lucky ones are those recruiters utilizing a consistently smooth and efficient process to quote salaries.

When applicants finally interview and are excited about the possibility of employment, what is your procedure for discussing dollars? There are two factors to consider in developing a salary quotation process: the first being identification of a decision maker and protocol to dictate salary. The second is how you share this information with the candidate. Even though we work diligently to streamline and expedite the hiring process in sourcing, screening and interviewing, oftentimes determining salary is overlooked — causing a definite delay in employment offers.

Salary quotes are determined based on several variables; experience being the primary factor. How do you count years of experience at your organization? It matters a great deal if a candidate is working full-time, part-time or per diem and the salary quote must reflect his/her experience appropriately. Another consideration is the environment in which the applicant is currently working. Should outpatient and inpatient settings' positions carry the same weight? If the open position is for an acute care facility, how do you count experience in long-term care, office settings or other areas? All of these factors should be evaluated and determined by your organization in order to calculate a consistent salary quote for a variety of candidates.

Many positions require a specific degree while others offer flexibility in "preferring" a certain degree combined with experience. The level of education is typically the next most heavily weighted determinant for salary. These are factors that must also be considered. In the case of nurses, do you pay Associate's degreed and Bachelor's degreed candidates differently? All of these variants play an important role in determining the correct placement of the candidate's salary quote within the pay range.

Additional schooling, the acquisition of specialized certifications and advanced skill levels may warrant an additional "bump" in compensation. Other pay variances will also determine a candidates overall salary such as shift differentials, weekend differentials and other specific organization pay programs.

A key consideration in determining a salary quote for an applicant is internal equity. Once a candidate's education and experience levels place them in a salary "bracket," compare the quote with salaries of existing members working in the same department. This often presents a problem when an organization increases pay ranges for incoming applicants but does not award department-wide increases to current employees. This situation results in the new applicant receiving a higher salary quote than existing staff with the same level of experience and more tenure — fostering a situation of inequality in the minds of your employees. For this reason, internal equity issues must be resolved as they definitely increase turnover.

Each organization must also select a representative to calculate the quote. Oftentimes, this is done by the compensation department. Another method calls for Compensation to establish a standard grid value, providing the recruiter and/or hiring manager with the ability to quote salary. Either of these systems will prove successful as long as each quote is: timely, accurate and consistent. If this process is delegated to only one or two eligible people, unnecessary delays in hiring could result. There must always be several qualified people to quote salary.

Once the salary is determined, the next step is identifying who will share the salary quote with the applicant and when will that occur. Sometimes, it is appropriate to communicate this information up front during the time a recruiter is interviewing the candidate and other times the hiring manager discusses salary during a later interview. Once again, either way works as long as the guidelines for your process have been determined, agreed upon and communicated to all concerned.

After an organization moves through the candidate assessment phase and salary quote determination — the quote must be documented, averting issues of having two different people quoted two different salaries leading to candidate confusion and poor public perception/reputation in the hiring pool. Once all these issues have been discussed and guidelines have been established, the end result will be a process that is consistent and fiscally responsible — and promotes a positive brand image.

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