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I sit (virtually and metaphorically, of course) with one leg on either side of the Atlantic, living in the US, whilst overseeing businesses in Africa. I get my daily news literally 24/7, and find myself viewing ‘the economy’, business in general, and the job market from very different realities and perspectives.

But, regardless of skyrocketing unemployment in both the US and South Africa, and in spite of the HUGE number of layoffs and retrenchments that are happening all over the world, there are STILL companies that are hiring! Whilst many have certainly frozen all hiring activity, there are equally as many who are progressing with key, critical hires. In addition, where there are pockets of growth to be found, companies are trying to scale as quickly as possibly to exploit these before the Covid-window of opportunity closes.

What all of this means is that people are being made offers of employment by companies all over the world, on a daily basis, despite what many might be experiencing as the worst time to find or look for a job.

What this also means is that there are some interesting Covid-style hiring strategies around. Have you heard that ‘now’s the time to acquire talent for a bargain’? Or, ‘there are so many people willing to take any offer of a job right now’.

Indeed in many respects this is a ‘buyers’ market’. Employers with jobs to fill, who are willing to pay a full salary to people who have either been laid off, or asked to take a salary sacrifice have a lot of bargaining power.

But my word of warning is the same to any hiring manager, at any time of the global macro-economic cycle: ‘Don’t low-ball!’.

Making a financial offer at a significantly lower rate than the value of the candidate is a very short term talent strategy. What I’ve seen over and over, is that someone who accepts an offer that is substantially lower than his/her previous one, or lower than his/her value in the market (value being determined by factors including value add to the company, value of skills and experience, as well as supply and demand) is highly likely to look at any better paying role as soon as one becomes available.

The low-ball offer becomes, then, just a short term placeholder for both parties.

So, if you’re going to make an offer, regardless of Covid or any other looming global crisis, make a fair one. And if it needs to be on the lower end of the range due to affordability, make sure that you address and adjust that as soon as possible.

Alternatively, expect to see your talent-bargain walk straight out the door in no time (assuming that we eventually get back to places of work with doors, of course).

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat

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