To Compromise or Not to Compromise - Second Part

And what do the employers have to say?

Tal Frank, CEO of software company Incentives Solutions, which offers computerized solutions for managing incentive systems at organizations, says compromise should not be part of the equation when choosing a place of work.

Tal says the job candidate’s body language and tone of voice during the interview give him away. These signals should not be ignored or viewed as the job candidate’s alone, because the price will be leaving the job within a short period of time, meaning all the investment made in training the employee will go down the drain. If the job is not in line with the jobseeker’s expectations, disappointment is sure to come.

Tal Frank: “Generally the job candidate’s expectations are realistic, although sometimes, especially in the case of high-level positions, expectations are too high.”

Based on your experience, what is important to people? On which issues are they more willing to compromise on and which issues less?
“When it comes to high-level positions they are willing to compromise on the salary level if the job provides challenges and a prestigious job title.

“With low-level jobs, just the opposite. They will almost always be willing to compromise challenging work and a job title as long as the pay is better. Still, despite its importance, people’s willingness to compromise on salary depends on the state of the job market.”

Are there distinctions according to profession?
“Yes. In sales pay is the deciding factor. It supercedes every other need. On the other hand in the software field, if the employer offers an interesting job with a respectable title he can get the employee to forego up to 20% of his salary. This is especially true in the area of development, where the distance from the client is perceived as an advantage that makes compromising on salary worthwhile.”

Ronen Zinger, a former personnel manager at Amdocs now starting a new job as personnel manager at a large investment firm, says job candidates who compromise may be doing so due to pressing reasons at that point in time. For example, the job candidate may have spent a long time looking for work (because he was unwilling to compromise) and now what’s important to him is not to remain unemployed for long. “My concern as a personnel manager is that someone like that will very quickly start looking for another job.”

How can you tell he’s compromising?
“First of all you review his resume and see his education level, his qualifications and his previous jobs. Then you put it into the context of the job he’s pursuing.”

If you see in the resume that his qualifications go beyond the job requirements and the job you have to offer is likely to be seen as a compromise to him, why even call him in for an interview?
“I don’t call him in for an interview right away. When I have a suitable resume first of all I speak with him on the phone for a few minutes and try to get a picture of his expectations. I make the job clear to him. This conversation is a sort of initial expectations matching. We discuss salary and areas of responsibility.”

Are these the important things to the job candidate?
“Generally speaking, yes, but there are also compelling personal factors that in many cases make the job candidate willing to compromise.”

As an example Zinger cites a case in which he interviewed a job candidate who had worked as a purchasing manager in his previous job and who was willing to take a job as rank-and-file purchasing worker. The job offered less status and lower pay than what he had received at his previous job. Clearly the reason was that his wife had contracted a serious disease that forced her to stop working. The husband then had to find work as quickly as possible because of the drastic reduction in household income. Likewise, the range of jobs he could choose from became limited since he had to find a job close to home and one that would allow him to leave at certain times to attend to his wife.

From your standpoint taking someone like this must present a dilemma because his personal circumstances could change within a relatively short period of time. For instance his wife could recuperate, or chalilah, meet her Maker, or find an arrangement for hospitalization that would diminish her dependence and her husband’s need to remain available. Any of these developments could induce him to leave the job. Then your whole investment in the recruitment and hiring process would go down the drain.

“That’s right. That’s why I had him commit to at least 18 months.”

You can’t make such a commitment binding.

“Right again. So it’s not written down anywhere. It’s a gentleman’s agreement between us and I’m convinced he will honor it. He won’t necessarily stay just because of a moral obligation. Over time he may see a potential for personal growth at the organization and that will make him want to continue to tie his destiny with this place of work.”

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Let’s summarize the main arguments for and against:

Compromise is worthwhile because…

A. Just being inside the job market is important. An employed job candidate is more readily hired than an unemployed candidate.
B. Low expectations can turn around. Sometimes a job that did not inspire high hopes proves to be a pleasant surprise. For example, perhaps we were hired for a job that was not particularly appealing but got promoted to a more varied and interesting post. Perhaps the job’s physical surroundings were unimpressive, but the boss proved to be likable and the kind of person you could learn a lot from.
C. Even an unexciting place of work can produce tempting offers. Many company workers received an attractive job offer from a client they served faithfully.
D. Acquiring experience is heavily weighted at many workplaces in the job market. Often filling a job that is not very appealing at a highly reputable company can provide the “compromising” worker with extensive knowledge and experience that will help down the road.
Just mentioning having worked at the organization gives you bonus points later. Future employers will assume if they chose to hire you they must have done a thorough assessment and found you suitable.
E. Compromise is not really compromise. You can leave the job at any time. And of course you can continue looking for another job while you’re employed.
An employed jobseeker does not feel the same as an unemployed jobseeker. The former has more confidence and potential employers view him as someone who has an alternative and will relate to him accordingly.

And why is compromise not worthwhile? Because…

A. Working at a frustrating job expends a lot of extra energy. The employee becomes frustrated and falls into despair; sometimes, because of his poor spirits, he stops looking for a better alternative, settles into a frustrating job and stays.
B. Job hunting is a formidable task. Working at another task takes away a considerable portion of one’s time and makes it hard to carry out the task properly.
The task is even harder if the jobseeker is employed at an unsuitable job, robbing him of the energy needed to conduct a proper job search.

And of course there are compelling factors, most of all how much the jobseeker needs work to make a living. The greater the financial pressure the more the arguments we presented above are dwarfed by the need to find a job and the greater his willingness to compromise.

Another important element to take into account is the age of the person, which will also be used to infer how much experience he has in the job market. Compromise is easier for a younger person and this compromise will be perceived with greater understanding by the people around him, including his employers, and will not undermine his career and the professional reputation he is starting to build. But when an older person is compelled to take a step back it often entails painful compromise and leaves a lasting scar. Such an individual will be more hesitant to make a significant compromise in choosing a new job.

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