Craziest job candidate demands, and how to deal with them

Lee Biggins discusses what small businesses should do when faced with unusual or unreasonable requests from would-be employees.

Continuing to monopolise the recruitment industry, the issues surrounding candidates and their new-found power in today’s job market are still growing. At a time when the UK’s economic future faces real uncertainty, and employers are scrambling to find a solution to the rapidly-growing skills shortages, the candidates who do have the necessary skills and qualifications are certainly making the most of it.

It’s no secret that recruitment is a tough game to play, especially for smaller businesses who compete against giant corporations for the best talent, and our latest research, composed of responses from a variety of recruitment professionals, highlights how some businesses may have to concede to crazy candidate demands to ensure they’re attracting the best candidates. We’re not talking about salary increases and a bigger holiday allowance; our respondents told us of candidates demanding dog-walking breaks throughout the day, fully-expensed family holidays and a daily delivery of fresh towels to their apartment…

So, the question is, when do you stand firm and keep searching for talented candidates, and when should you give in? Unfortunately, and no doubt unsurprisingly, there is no simple answer; it almost always comes down to what your business needs, and how desperately it needs it.

Today’s jobhunting process has changed drastically, and where the interview and offer process may once have been straightforward and simple, employers now have counter offers and candidate demands to contend with. Of course, there will always be applicants who demand a higher, potentially unrealistic salary, while others may try their luck and ask for more holiday, or even a company car. As an employer you may have procedures in place and a cut-off point for negotiations, but if you don’t, rest assured that these scenarios should be fairly easy to deal with; candidates worthy of their demands will often receive them, whereas the under qualified are less likely to have the same success.

But what if they’re asking for too much?

However, when it comes to the odder, more outlandish request from applicants, the situation can become difficult to navigate. Let’s set the scene: you’ve trawled through piles of CVs and applications and finally found a candidate who meets the criteria. You invite them in for an interview, and after determining that they would fit well within the company and succeed in the job role, you make them an offer. So far, so good. Negotiations are likely, so you may be expecting a request for a salary increase, or perhaps an enquiry about flexible hours. But instead, the applicant demands a chauffeur-driven service to transport them to and from work each day. What do you do?

In this instance, it’s probably best to cut your ties with the candidate and continue searching for talent elsewhere. There are two main reasons that you’d be better off looking elsewhere; firstly, if you do end up conceding to a crazy candidate demand and your other employees found out, there’s a real chance that morale could drop and that your workforce could suffer. Though you may be desperate to bring the candidate on board, you should ask yourself if the problems further down the line are really worth it; if hiring a new recruit means you run the risk of polarising your existing team, it’s best looking elsewhere.

Furthermore, if you’ve interviewed a candidate, made them an offer, and met their outrageous requests, you should be prepared for more demands further down the line. How you initially handle these requests could set the precedent for the rest of their career with you, and unfortunately, giving candidates whatever they want in the early stages will likely lead to them expecting more and more from you as time goes on.

Is there room for manoeuvre?

But while you may be met with some ludicrous demands, you’ll likely also find yourself faced with requests or negotiations that, while initially offputting, can be managed so that they’re not as crazy as they seem. Essentially, you’ll have to decide whether or not there’s room for negotiation; on both their side and yours.

Imagine you’ve found the ideal candidate and are willing to negotiate the terms of their employment with them, and then they demand a fully-expensed family holiday or a company car for a role that doesn’t require travel. It’s crucial that you’re upfront, whilst demonstrating your willingness to compromise. While a fully-expensed holiday is out of the question, could you meet the candidate in the middle and offer the option of an increased holiday allowance? Similarly, when a company car is a no-no, could you include some travel expenses in their contract? Of course, if these requests really are ridiculous, or you know that your budget simply won’t stretch that far, then again it would be best to look elsewhere.

Ultimately, the key is learning when to compromise. If the candidate’s salary request is outrageous, you can either cut them loose and continue your search, or you could suggest an alternative pay package. It’s also important to remember that not every request will be unreasonable; if a candidate has done their research and knows what pay scale they can expect for the job role, they’re likely to ask for a higher salary. If you refuse, the candidate could potentially mistake this for a lack of interest, or a sign that your company doesn’t value its employees. If this is a candidate that you do want to join your workforce, it’s best to stay open to negotiations, or you run the risk of losing them altogether.

Dealing with this situation is simply a consequence of the shift in power towards candidates; today’s job hunters are savvier than ever, and the majority are aware of influence they have over the job market. Employers who can see the wider picture, and do their best to meet the candidate’s needs without compromising the business are the ones who secure the best talent. If you have roles to fill and interviews lined up it’s important to factor in a crazy negotiation process; there’s not always a way of knowing what candidates will demand next!

Lee Biggins is the founder of CV-Library.

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