What Negotiating Points Are Most Important to European Job Candidates?

By Jannike Huisman April 29, 2019

​Congratulations! You've found a fantastic job candidate. The most difficult part of the recruitment process seems to be over, and now it's time for the negotiation phase. What elements of the job offer do European candidates consider most important when negotiating offers in their home countries?

Almost half (49 percent) of all European candidates will negotiate their salary. In addition, 29 percent of European candidates consider a permanent employment contract and the number of work hours in a day to be important. These figures are from the Global Talent Acquisition Monitor, an Intelligence Group study of the European labor market in 28 different countries.

"Usually, candidates take a couple of days to think about the proposals, as they sometimes have other offers on the table," said Georgiana Sanduleasa, a Cyprus-based recruiter for IT talent across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"The negotiations are certainly different in each country," said Kim Lokenberg, a Dutch sourcing and recruitment specialist for international recruitment. "In the Netherlands, for example, candidates are not accustomed to getting a permanent contract immediately, but in other countries the situation often differs. In Germany, this is considered very important, as is a higher net salary."

Sanduleasa noted that in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Ireland, candidates are referring to an annual base when sharing their salary expectations. But in Romania and Bulgaria, candidates are asking for a net monthly amount instead.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

A Good Salary

Despite the differences, a good salary is the most important negotiating point in most European countries and will be addressed, for instance, by around 70 percent of candidates from Hungary and Ukraine. Candidates in Italy, Ireland and the U.K. aren't as likely to negotiate their salaries (32 percent).

With the current tight labor market, offering competitive salaries is important. Offering too low a salary may lead candidates to break off negotiations. Before negotiations start, an employer should consider what kind of salary will fit the position and current market. For example, how much responsibility comes with the job? What skills are required? What's the employer's budget?

Including the salary or salary range in the job description is common in Europe. But employers should leave some room for negotiating.

A Permanent Contract and Work Hours

Salary is not the only point the candidate will want to negotiate before accepting an offer. A permanent employment contract—one without an end date—is an important point of negotiation for 29 percent of European candidates. In Finland, the contract is the key subject of negotiations: 46 percent of candidates will bring up this point.

Slovenians (43 percent) and Belgians (39 percent) also place great significance on the possibility of a permanent contract. But the percentage of candidates who care about this is much smaller in Denmark (15 percent) and Austria (13 percent).

Europeans also often want to negotiate work hours. Here, too, there are major differences between countries. For example, 49 percent of Hungarians consider this an important point of negotiation, compared to 21 percent of Slovenians.

Negotiation may also differ between professions. Culture and the meaningfulness of the work are main considerations, too. When recruiting, it's important to determine each candidate's specific situation. Being flexible is essential to turn job offers into acceptances.

Jannike Huisman is with Intelligence Group, a Rotterdam, Netherlands-based international data and technology company in the field of labor market and recruitment data. The firm focuses on collecting, storing and enriching labor-market-related data to improve employee recruitment and increase international mobility.



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