June 25, 2018

Jobseekers: Sign In | Sign Up Recruiters
  InFocus Newsletter Newsletter archives

Share this article:
Bookmark and Share

Negotiation Tactics for Recruiters

Everything is not negotiable! I recently tried to leverage one bank against the other when applying for a loan, arguing that if I couldn’t get the interest rate I wanted, I was willing to walk away.

“Go ahead,” the loan officer chuckled. “I’ve got eight other applications on my desk, waiting for approval. If you can get a better deal somewhere else, be my guest.”

He’s got a lot of nerve, I thought. But I sure respect the way he held the line.

Later, I found out that his bank had one of the highest ratings in the industry, and was one of the most profitable institutions in the country. And eventually, because of other value-added services they could provide me, his bank became my lender, even though they had a somewhat higher rate.

Negotiating: A Way to Satisfy Needs

Price, of course, is only one aspect of any sale. If the transaction involves a commodity (such as rice, or soybeans, or crude oil, for example), then price may very well be the predominant issue.

Recruiters often find themselves in a position of trying to negotiate for a standard fee when others are discounting. The most successful recruiters know that the only way to offset a concern surrounding price is to build value. Otherwise, the service provided is viewed as a commodity, with the recruiter assuming the role of a vendor, or supplier.

The way to distinguish your service and its value-added dimension is to probe for the needs of the employer, and the urgency in filling a position. Once the need has been identified (and qualified), you’ll be in a position to hold the line, or at least reach an agreement in which both parties feel satisfied. (If you are unable to discover a compelling reason why your service warrants the full price you charge, then unfortunately, you may have to settle for whatever you can get.)

The loan officer at my bank was able to secure my business, even though he charged a higher rate of interest than a competitor. The reason? There were other important considerations which I considered to be of value that led to our settlement.

Achieving a Successful Settlement

You can sharpen your negotiating skills by following these four steps.

  1. Measure what the other side wants. Before you begin a fee negotiation, for example, find out exactly what the employer is asking for. I know this sounds rather obvious, but you’d be surprised how often a recruiter will give away the store after hearing the employer ask for a concession that’s totally vague.

  2. Qualify the negotiation. If the employer isn’t sincere, isn’t in a position to buy, or has completely unrealistic expectations, you shouldn’t be negotiating at all. What good does it do to settle for a reduced fee with a prospective client in the first five minutes of taking a job order only to find out twenty minutes later that he won’t be hiring for another six weeks and that he’s currently interviewing five dozen candidates from the ads he’s been running for three weeks?

  3. Probe for pertinent information. After you know what your employer is proposing (and he’s qualified to negotiate with you), try and gather every bit of information you possibly can.

    For example, what has been his previous experience with search firms? With whom has he worked? How did they operate? What did they charge? Has he been happy with the results? In other words, take a careful look at what the employer’s actual benefit needs are. Very often, there exists a critical hidden agenda, which will prove to be the pivotal point of a negotiation.

  4. Assess the situation. How much do you need this employer’s business? What are your chances of filling his job orders? What will you gain from making concessions? And if you do make concessions, what will they be?

You are now ready to reach an agreement, but remember that you can always delay if you feel you have to. It’s better to put off a bad or uncomfortable deal than agree to something you’ll later regret.

-Bill Radin

Bill Radin is a top-producing recruiter whose innovative books, tapes, CDs and training seminars have helped thousands of recruiting professionals and search consultants achieve peak performance and career satisfaction.