Isn’t it nice to feel wanted?
Unless you are the world’s most self-confident person (or don’t care less what people think of you!) then most of us would agree that it’s always nice to have moments of reassurance.
Moments of value. Moments of self-worth. Moments where someone, either in your private life or professional career, metaphorically or even literally, puts their arm around you and says “I value who you are and what you do”.
When you think about it, this happens to all of us every month when that pay packet lands. It’s a nod from your employer saying (hopefully!) “Good job this month. I both appreciate and value what you do. In fact, I’d like to pay you £xk due to what you’re worth to this organisation.”
Unfortunately, for many of us that value is not enough. We don’t feel highly enough regarded or loved. Whilst many things can contribute to someone leaving a role, feeling underpaid and undervalued can often be the aspect that makes someone think “this just isn’t worth it”.
Looking at it from the other perspective therefore, one of the most flattering aspects of anyone’s job search is your opportunity as a potential employer to say “hey, I think you’re great. In fact, I think you are so talented that I value you considerably higher than your current firm does.” And then this is reflected in the offer you make.
Look, we all know that we’re in business to make a profit. Number 1 rule of business is that if you are taking in more than you are paying out, then you are effectively doing it right. If you’re not, then you might as well stop reading here:- your problems are far greater than anything that can be sorted out in a 5 minute blog.
However assuming that you’re still with us, then Number 2 rule of business is this:- to increase your profit margin you either a) increase income and/or b) decrease outgoings.
Therefore you are naturally going to try to charge your clients as much as they will pay, whilst compensating your staff with as little as they will accept. Again, we get that. In fact, most lawyers we talk to are fairly commercially minded and fair; very rarely do we speak to someone who bills £200k but thinks they’re worth £170k. Most accept that if they’re coming up short on their end of the bargain then they don’t expect to be paid over the odds by their employer just because they have a great sense of humour, can recite the alphabet backwards or smell good.
However, we do speak to a number of candidates where things are the other way around; individuals who may be billing £500k, £600k or £700k per annum but yet find that their remuneration is falling well behind what they’re worth, particularly if they are contributing significantly to the business as a whole by cross-selling their clients into other areas of the firm and generating work for others. These are the superstars, the ones that your firm wants – the men and women who will contribute significantly to your top line.
Yet bizarrely this isn’t always recognised. Firms often still adopt the policy of trying to get someone as cheaply as they can. Bad move.
We’ve all heard the phrase “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Let me assure you, that works for job offers too.
If you’ve reached the point where you are making an offer then we can probably take it as read that you really like this individual. Similarly, if they’ve come back to see you three times and sat through the partnership panel meeting then you can probably assume they like you as well. All good thus far.
So what do you do now?
Option 1 – we ride this wave of goodwill and optimism; we look at what your business need is, we look at how much revenue you lose by NOT having that person sat in your office, you look at the value of their clients and you make an offer based upon what they are worth to you as a business. They are hugely flattered, the momentum remains, we all get swept up in the moment and next thing anyone knows they’ve joined you and everyone is a happy bunny. Or..…
Option 2 – we look at what they’re worth to your business, what their clients are worth, etc etc…… then completely disregard all of that, ask “what are they on at the moment?” then bung 5% on that and hope they’re not so disappointed that they still take it.
Let me assure you – Option 1 works far more often than Option 2.
We’ve also had similar situations where someone will say “I know they want £x but let’s offer £y and see what they say.” Well what they say is “no, they knew I wanted £x, why are they wasting my time?” Congratulations, now not only is £y unacceptable but you have to do some pretty hard work to make £x acceptable again.
It’s simply not worth it.
Make your best offer first, keep them onside and keep the momentum. For every person who goes back and says “I want £5k more” you’ll get 10 who say “that’s fantastic, I’m so happy you’ve made me that offer, I’m delighted you value me, I’d like to accept.”
And isn’t that what we all want?