Don’t Play LIMBO With Job Offers – EVER!

It’s very unfortunate. Companies make significant investments to find and locate the best talent they can find. Talent that can help the company grow revenues, develop new products or services, deploy and implement systems or provide a number of other very important roles for HCIT companies. It never ceases to amaze me that even though the search firm is given a range on the salary for the role we’ve been retained for – often the company will start the bidding at the low end.

And I mean LIMBO low.

So what does the candidate think? Guess what – it’s not good. As the trusted third party I get a chance to present the offer and gauge the reaction firsthand and sometimes it’s just not pretty. The company is trying to get the best value for the least amount of money. That’s really not the right strategy in my humble opinion. And for me – it’s not about trying to drive up the salary to earn a larger fee. NOPE. It’s about making sure that the superior talent we have found understands their value from the company. The offer in many ways sets the stage for how the employee will view the offer and either decide the company is right for them or not. It’s called value exchange. Does the company think the candidate is desperate?

It really boils downs to a few questions we all need to think about when a company makes a LIMBO low offer:

  1. What message are they sending to the potential new employee when offering a lower than market salary?
  2. How can a company attract the best talent available by attempting to pay lower than market rates?
  3. The time value of having this person on board and productive by paying market rates far out weighs the lost opportunity costs by having to do the search over or make the offer to a candidate that is not as qualified. What is the point here?
  4. The company has already conveyed a strong message of the new recruit’s value by offering a lower than market salary. How does making a LIMBO offer impact productivity of the new employee if they accept the offer?

Employers should think long and hard about how the offer sets the stage for the future relationship with the new employee. In the end you have to ask yourself how low LIMBO offers make an organization a better place to work for any new candidate. Candidate’s usually make a move to improve their value equation in the market and they want to see meaningful career progression by leaving their employer.

Go too low – and the candidate will decline a bad offer and stay with their current employer. Do candidates telegraph a message by declining bad LIMBO offers?  I think they do…

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.