How to Effectively Negotiate with Candidates

(Editor’s note: the following article is by industry trainer and speaker Barb Bruno, CPC/CTS of Good as Gold Training. Barb has served as a keynote speaker at recruiter networking events like the Top Echelon National Convention and Fall Conference multiple times. She has also presented webinars for the Top Echelon Recruiter Coaching Series. Barb is a trusted voice in the recruiting and staffing industry, as well as a valuable contributor to the resources that Top Echelon provides.)

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Staffing and Recruiting is a sales profession that provides many opportunities for you to negotiate and close.  There are several times negotiating skills can make the difference from a deal closing and a deal falling apart.  Negotiating skills also play a major role when you are recruiting candidates.

To negotiate effectively, you need the ability to do the following:

  • Set yourself up as an effective negotiator early in the process.
  • Ask questions geared to influence the outcome.
  • Manipulate the results you want while the parties involved are convinced they are making the choices which are best for them.  Obviously, you have a moral and ethical obligation to manipulate them toward decisions that are good for them and their careers.
  • Remember the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) of candidates during your negotiations.
  • Fine-tune your listening skills.  Too often recruiters are guilty of selective hearing.  When negotiations blow up in your face, there have usually been several red flags you choose to ignore.
  • Remember it is not your job to agree or disagree with your candidate’s decisions.  It is your job to determine how you will find an opportunity that answers the hot buttons of your candidates to ensure referrals.
  • Your ability to dramatically reduce problem areas.  Study each step when a deal falls through (someone no starts, no shows, etc.) and fix the problem.

All successful recruiters learn to constantly change the way they do business, in order to improve production and income.  Improving your ability to negotiate will have a very positive impact on your income.

During the placement process there are numerous times when negotiations take place. You must become proficient in negotiating because you have people on both sides of your sale.

  • Your ability to direct the thinking and actions of your prospect is directly related to your ability to direct your own thinking and actions.
  • Your prospect’s enthusiasm for your service is a product of your enthusiasm for your service.

Very early in the placement process, establish yourself as a negotiator to your candidate.  It is very important to remember their only interest is WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  Enthusiasm is contagious, so is uncertainty.  Your attitude can make or break your ability to negotiate.

Reasons to negotiate better

Below are 10 reasons why you should want to negotiate better:

  1. Improve profitability
  2. Achieve desired outcome while fostering relationships
  3. Maximize financial returns and value in negotiations
  4. Avoid getting paid less than the value of your services
  5. Neutralize difficult negotiators and their tactics
  6. Enter into and conduct negotiations with confidence
  7. Know when and how to walk away from a negotiation
  8. Improve relationships with candidates
  9. Acquire leadership and team building skills
  10. Turn differences into assets rather than liabilities

Most studies on negotiations state that in over 75% of all negotiations, both parties wait to see what the other party will do before they decide what to do themselves.  What that means is that a person who has any negotiation framework in mind gains an enormous advantage in the negotiation process.  With a framework, you will be able to set the agenda, establish the tone of the negotiation and direct how the negotiation proceeds.

Think of how often in the recruiting process you negotiate:

  • To obtain a candidate’s resume or CV
  • To show them the benefit in filling out your Profile or Application Form
  • With your candidates so they see the value in taking time off from work to go on interviews with your clients
  • A time when you can interview or profile your candidate
  • With your candidate when you extend an offer
  • To obtain continual referrals

The more comfortable you become at negotiating, the more successful you will become in the staffing and recruiting profession.

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