Problem: " A candidate comes in and asks for 45k. My boss will want to counter-offer with 42k systematically. And if another candidate initially asks for 60k for the same position, then my boss will reply with a 56k counter-offer.".
Question: "Are my arguments valid based on your experience? Are theirs?
What could be some ground-earth-based solid other arguments that I could use to convince them that it's not so stupid to avoid systematic negotiation?".
Your arguments are mostly valid, none of the company's are particularly so.
The owner might be partially correct on these points:
- "Candidates always ask for a little more than what they expect"
- "We can't afford it"
It would be a foolish candidate to ask for too little or too much, the chance of it averaging to exactly the perfect value is unlikely; it likely will be a bit more - but if that tiny bit would break the company then there's no sense in working there.
The company may well not be able to afford it, so they should cut back on their requirements. They should be able to look at the resume as well as their own bank account and not annoy people they might need in the future.
I have a hypothesis based on experience (but obviously not a scientific survey) that if you call in everyone who applies to a position advertised without salary and it's 100 people then you get a resulting spread like this:
40% of the interviewees will be knowledgeable about your business and take that experience with them when they walk away. They'll never recommend you or send your company work and they are highly skilled, they could have brought your company to the next level, you might dismiss them but others won't; they'll wield power over you from a distance.
40% of the interviewees will be knowledgeable about your business and take that experience with them when they walk away. They are not quite as experienced or respected as the first group. They'll never recommend you or send your company work and they are highly skilled, and while they might have brought your company to the next level great pay and bonuses would be required. but whether they end up somewhere that sends you extra work and they are influencers in decisions remains to be seen, at your peril.
10% Would be somewhat suitable (in your estimation, for what you're prepared to pay) but you're not hiring 10 people only 1 (in this example). So there's 9 people who might think it was a 'neat place' and they might suggest your company but elsewhere they end up where they are not asked for these opinions and thus really have little effect on your success or failure.
The final 10% will think everything was OK, they'll apply again if not hired this time - assuming they're not good enough to obtain employment elsewhere, so really they either need not or will not reapply. They are unlikely to recommend you where it matters and there's few in this group to save you if they do.
So if you hire 1 person as a result of advertising for a position and 100 respond you've made less than half a dozen friends and over 3 dozen enemies with a half dozen or more actively sinking your ship.
You can only lose by messing with people: messing around with whether you'll advertise, whether you'll pay enough, whether you'll haggle, add extra tasks after they are hired or place them with production negative people, whether you'll 'Helicopter Manager', review for bonuses and raises properly, buy or repair things as needed.
Once you set the course of the ship, into the whirlpool or the sky, there's a tough job trying to change the weather and the course at the same time.
An interview is an opportunity for the employer to show how great the company is, how great it will be, and how great it will be for a successful candidate if they are chosen. If you convince everyone that they'd be better off elsewhere then you're distilling a bad brew - your getting lowballers, slowballers, and no ... well, you know.
When you pick only the fruit off of the ground it dirty and has bugs. Having a knowledgeable Taskmaster to oversee the 'great unwashed' and polish them up leads to the turnovers taking your supposed valued training with them to the competition.
Your question about is it common to systematically counter offer less depends upon where you go. Some places simply pay X dollars and that's it. Some simply counter with a buck or two per hour less (seldom is it a buck more, though I have seen it once). Often the response is that they simply don't pay that much, and that's a fact; nor should they ever advertise for a position that is almost completely based upon the candidates liking an insulting offer.
For experienced candidates push / pull or drag with your teeth your livelihood into the future of success is your job for which you should clearly be well paid - if you just take up space or target the company from a competing company or a supplier the company is losing enough to hire an additional person; losing you to the competition for a couple of decades will cost the company a few employee's pay.
The employee must do what is within the job description, sometimes they must save the day (or the company). The employer must be useful too, they are the one who pays not the employee.
You need to be prepared to hire every qualified and reasonably priced person you interview or send them to the competition. If you insult or annoy powerful people it can never be good - to do that systematically would be suicide.
Distilling the bottom of the cup and serving it to the customer means that the customer won't want to pay much either, most likely going elsewhere next time and obtaining a better result from a better and more efficient team (that happily promotes the fine company that they enjoy working at and providing the best products and services).
Fiddling around is bad advertising.
If the duties are agreed upon and they say it costs X dollars then if that's in the ballpark you can give them your decision within the week (or much sooner).
If everyone seems to want a lot ask what duties you can cut to bring the cost to X dollars (but not a great deal less, assuming we're well above minimum). All too often I've applied for the one advertised job but my resume shows other experience so during the interview they want to double the workload (without offering more than the lowball amount they advertised), that's a walk away (a few times while they were still yaking, left the onlookers giggling).
Some places have a mindset to systematically apply a losing formula that they think works because they think it gets what they want, like drug addiction it usually results in a downspiral without recovery. Candidates can see when everyone seems unhappy and uncaring, or pushy because the boss has forced a disagreeable process upon them and they're the messenger. When it's a hole the most experienced can tell, the inexperienced often fall in.
Sometimes it's tough to tell if the boss's hairbrain schemes will work. I've seen the impossible be done, sometimes many times when it shouldn't have worked.
If that's what is needed for the company to remain viable the owner had best be a true master of the impossible (at least you learn that by working there).