Employers – Stop Being So Cheap!

You heard me, and I mean it! I get it – the world economy (especially the US economy) is in the toilet. That doesn’t mean you hire a search firm to find the best talent in the land, and then offer a compensation package that is LESS THAN what they are earning today. In the last 24 months it’s happened to me on more than one occasion, and in each case the candidate’s reaction has been, well… less than stellar. The typical response? – “What?!” – as it should be…

It seems that some hiring managers and executives are trying to take advantage of the down market to either impress someone internally with a low-ball offer or just throw up a trial balloon to see how a candidate might react. Well, let me help you -not a good move. A cheap, low-ball offer has all of the downside and little upside.

If you’re looking to upgrade your talent, you generally have to make a pretty compelling offer to get a passive candidate to accept your offer and resign from their current employer. Making an offer to someone you want on your team takes thought, and a real understanding of their current compensation. Once you have that information and you still elect to go on the cheap? Well, you deserve whatever happens after that. You’ve already cast the dye and set the watermark on your perceived value of that candidate. It all comes down to simple math: the value you’ve placed on your star candidate is that they’re worth less to you than they are to their current employer. Sign me up for that one.

If your offer is too low (or too ridiculous), it’s almost impossible for the candidate to forget that even if you turn around and sweeten the deal. These are people with real emotions and feelings of their own market value that just happen to be interested in your organization. These are people, not a rug you’re buying on e-Bay.

Govern yourself accordingly and stop being so cheap! I mean it!

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.


  • Great post Tim!
    Why would any passive candidate (not looking for a new job) ever accept an offer for less? It does not make any sense.

    Dear potential new employee, guess how we treat are going to treat you after you except our insulting offer? Now come on over!

    Give me a break!

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