Robbing Candidates Blind – Why I’m Not A Car Salesman…

There is a reason why people hate used car salesmen.  And, frankly…if I wanted to do that job, I wouldn’t still be paying for college.

The real job of a used car salesperson is to take as much money out of your pocket as possible in orderUsedcarsalesman_2 to pad their own.  Car salesmen are experts at schmoozing you, using tactics that are less then honorable.  Remarkably, I have seen some hiring managers and even recruiters using the same techniques.

Starting with the haggling.  A car salesman will haggle by showing you this abnormally ridiculous price for the car.  You’re supposed to say, “That’s horrible, I won’t pay that!” at which point they go into the back room to talk to their “manager” before coming back with a less ridiculous offer.  This happens 5 or six times before you walk out having only overpaid by about $5k.

The recruiter will haggle by lowballing.

“Here’s your offer!”

“That’s $15,000 less than what I asked for.  I won’t take that.”

“Okay, fine…here’s $5k more…and, free parking!”

I was on a panel once speaking about finding jobs in the game industry.  One of my peers from another company told the crowd, “Never accept the first offer because the company will never make their best offer first.”

Excuse me?

I think a company should always make their best offer first.  I think lowballing is a quick path to recruiting failure.  This isn’t a flea market.  And, it’s not Auto Trader.  If my company says it pays you based on your skill and experience, I need to pay you according to that criteria.  That’s not to say we can’t still negotiate.  But, this is a horrible time to start creating hard feelings from someone who should be really excited about starting a new life chapter.  There is an etiquette that goes into making job offers, says Mario Laudi at Red Canary.

Avoiding lowballing also includes candidates who ask for less money.  If a programmer tells me he wants to make $15/hour and I know darn well our company pays $20/hour for what he does, I should be offering the $20 and feeling really good about myself for making the dude so happy (Low numbers used cuz I hate math).  This is also a great way to ensure referrals.

Good recruiters are about more than just putting butts in seats.  We should also be about the relationship.  An employee that comes in happy could be your company’s next recruiter.  Why start things out with a testy exchange over dollars and cents if you don’t have to.  I’m not a salesmanCheerleader, maybe.  Salesman, no.

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Jason Pankow
Jason Pankow realized long ago that he wasn’t smart enough to actually program video games and game consoles. So, he found another way to participate! In between bouts of pwning newbs in Halo or scoring mad gamerpoints, Jason spends his time as the Staffing Program Manager for Microsoft’s Devices and Studios Division. Jason’s day is spent running programs that help recruit the obscenely talented developers, designers and engineers that have blessed the world with the likes of Xbox, Kinect and tons of other rad stuff, much of which he can’t tell you about. So, don’t ask. In non-nerd speak…what this means is that Jason has the coolest recruiting job in the world! Look him up as “Satchmo Baggins” on Xbox LIVE. But, watch out for the dreaded headshot!


  1. Tim Tolan says:

    Jason – What’s even worse is that in most cases you rarely see the man behind the curtain (yes…the sales manager). It’s like a shell game. We all know the story about The Wizard of Oz. Not much behind the curtain – right? The car buyer is tucked away in some office while the salesman takes your offer to some smoke-filled room where the sales manager and the salesman determine how much they can beat out of you. And, I TOTALLY agree with your analogy on NOT creating a bidding war. The offer is the offer in most cases. Only if there is a real critical business reason should you play the bid-up game. Great post!

  2. Michael Wolfe says:

    Hey Jason – great post…I knew you looked familiar. You must have been hanging around our office this year observing some of our offer discussions…
    Why do so few managers (and even some recruiters) really get this concept regarding the amount to offer a candidate?
    I know that there are always budget dollars to take into consideration but when there is some room to negotiate why are so many managers just wanting to offer a candidate 5% or less to make a move? Especially when we already know exactly what the candidate would like to make…
    Plus, if it’s a skillset that’s not so easy to find, $2K to $4K really isn’t going to make that much of a difference long term…
    BTW…I’m a fellow Galaga addict…can’t get enough of it….

  3. Jessica Lee says:

    good post. me too… i’m not a fan of low-ballers, at all. i think for candidates, it just is a shady tactic to employ. when i’m making offers, i tell candidates right up front that i don’t want to mess around and go back and forth with the offer and that i don’t want to start @ a low number so we can meet in the middle. i explain to them how i came up with the offer, and i’m explicit in saying that i’m putting our best offer right up front because we really want them to come on board and we don’t want to play games. does it always work? not always. sometimes i do end up having to negotiate… but i think it sets a good tone for how to move forward.

  4. Jason, you’re exactly right! I recruit for property management staffing in the Seattle area currently, and I can tell you without a doubt that it is ENTIRELY about the relationship that you cultivate with your candidate AND with your client. Nice post, and I think you’ve just found a new fan!

  5. Charles says:

    That’s all the Car Sales Men Do. Try to rob you blind..
    Think about it the work for commissions so they are trying to get you in there car at any means necessesary.

  6. Every body acknowledges that men’s life is expensive, but people require cash for different issues and not every man earns enough cash. Thus to get some business loans or sba loan will be a proper way out.

  7. Rachel says:

    Great article. I wish more HR reps worked the way you do. I once told an HR rep my range, and she said, “That’s fine, we can handle that”. During the interview, though, I was informed by one of the managers that the pay was a lot less than my range for starting employees. I’m not a fan of the ole’ bait and switch or low-balling, especially when I know/feel I’m being low-balled. You don’t want someone taking a job and feeling like, “I know I sure as hell don’t get paid enough for this.”

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