5 tips to becoming a better negotiator


Negotiating is a basic skill that every recruiter should possess, after all your job entails balancing your own need to fill a given position against the candidate’s desire to get more and the employer’s desire to pay as little as they can realistically get away with. It’s a delicate balance and one that can only successfully be handled with good negotiating skills – and the better your skills are in this department the more likely you are to be able to strike a deal that suits all parties. Just remember: be reasonable, be firm, be flexible and you’re very likely to be successful.

Also, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that with every negotiation, you’re establishing your reputation as a fair and honest broker and that counts for a lot.

Here are five tips that will help you become a better negotiator:

Accept the fact that you need to negotiate

Negotiation isn’t necessarily something that everyone feels comfortable with, but the fact is that we all negotiate whether we want to or not. Very few people will try to create an outcome that is ultimately detrimental to you or your client, but almost everyone will seek to do what is in their best interest. If their best interest and your best interest don’t align, then you lose. That’s where knowing the basics of negotiation – and learning how to use them – prevents you from getting pushed over.

Everyone should benefit from the end result

The idea of negotiation can often have very negative associations, and in business it can make people think they are in a “I win/you lose” scenario. This is exactly what it shouldn’t be about. At the end of a successful negotiation, all parties should feel they are satisfied with the outcome. So, before you embark on any negotiation you should have the mindset that everyone can benefit. Not only will this mean that your negotiations are likely to go a lot smoother, but it will also keep the door open for good negotiations with that other party in the future.

Know what you are willing to accept

Of course, not every negotiation can be planned ahead of time, but you can prevent a long a protracted scenario by knowing where your bottom line is. The number one rule of normal negotiating is to start with more than you expect to get and then work down from there. But for recruiters, this isn’t always the best solution when it comes to salary negotiations. A lot of recruiters suggest that you should initially quote a number slightly lower than what you expect the candidate would want, but that you’re sure the client would take. If the candidate wants £55,000, quote £50,000 to the client for the position – not the individual. If you can convince the candidate that £53,000 is the best you can do, bring that number back to the client.

There’s no room for emotion in negotiation

Whatever you do, don’t take a negotiation personally. You work hard. So much of what you do is thankless and unseen. You’re probably worth more than what you make. All that may be true, but these are all emotions that can cloud – and sink – negotiations. Most people will never have a negotiation that will make or break their life. And ultimately, you can say yes if the final offer is good; you can say no if it’s not. It’s not about what you’re worth. However, it’s unlikely that job negotiations will come to this providing you’ve managed expectation on both sides, and that’s down to sensible preparation.

Build a relationship before you ask for anything

Remember that you are in the people business, so before you start negotiating, get to know your clients – as well as your candidates – and allow them to get to know your background. Help your clients and candidates to feel comfortable in dealing with you as a person. The time you invest gaining trust will pay off when it comes to later negotiations.


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