If you type “negotiation tips” into Google, you might expect to find information about used car purchases. Instead, the links you’ll see will contain salary negotiation advice for job seekers who feel they’re being strong-armed by hiring managers. If hiring managers are seen as worse opponents than used car salesmen, you know there’s a problem.
Update your negotiation style—and your hiring success rate—with these six top tips smart hiring managers can use to improve their job offer discussions with candidates.
1. View the candidate as a partner
Modern-day negotiations work best when they end in a “win-win” situation. The negotiation tactics of yesteryear pitted participants against each other as opponents, but these days it’s better to view the job candidate as a partner in your discussion.
This outlook will help you both arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement for your negotiations, which will set a positive stage for the many other negotiations you’ll engage in together throughout the years they work as your employee.
2. Let them do the talking
Former FBI hostage negotiator Christopher Voss states that the most important time in your negotiation discussion occurs within the first 90 seconds because this is when your discussion partner tells you the most about himself or herself.
Since successful negotiations require you to know as much as possible about the other person, make sure to spend the first part of the conversation listening to what’s being said. Consider having a second listener in the room if you worry you’ll be too distracted to hear subtle details.
3. Demonstrate empathy
Although you know that a mutually beneficial agreement is the best outcome, that job candidate you’re speaking to probably spent their whole morning researching those scary negotiation tips on Google. They’re likely to come in swinging.
Show empathy during your discussion by fully imagining yourself in the other person’s position and responding appropriately. This stance can diffuse hostility and increase trust and respect during your negotiation because the other person will feel validated and in control of the conversation.
4. Determine their motivation
Job candidates often think that salary is the most important thing to negotiate, but they don’t realize that sometimes you’re unable to adjust wages by much. If you follow tip #2 and listen carefully, you’ll hear what else matters to the candidate aside from wages so you can offer that and reach your win-win solution.
Once you determine your candidate’s true desires and motivations, you may want to reframe their challenge in your own words and offer an attractive resolution. This demonstrates empathy (tip #3) and also helps you spell out the reality for your candidate so they can see why accepting your generous offer makes sense.
5. Stay likeable
Napoleon Hill, the author of the hugely successful book Think and Grow Rich, teaches us that, in business and in life, people will go out of their way to please the people they like. That means you need to be likeable in your discussion. Not only is likeability a good way to keep your negotiations on friendly, non-threatening footing, it’s also a smart tactic to get your job candidates to accept your terms willingly.
A lot of those top salary negotiation blogs coach job candidates on how they can fight the various ultimatums and high-pressure tactics they’ll experience during the job offer process. If you steer clear of sleazy negotiation techniques and make sure to smile and nod a lot, it’ll be easy to stay likeable.
6. Don’t cave in
If you find that the generous and mutually beneficial terms you’re discussing start to skew far in favor of the candidate’s personal interests and demands, you may want to put your negotiations on pause because you’re probably being played.
Unless you’re hiring for a sales position, a display of aggressive negotiation tactics or refusal to compromise should be treated as a red flag for your company because it shows that the candidate may be difficult to work with in the future. In these cases, it’s best to stop the discussion so you can carefully reconsider the candidate’s fit within your company and culture.
It’s Time for a Different Approach
As you’ve probably noticed, many of these tips directly challenge the hard-nosed negotiation maneuvers that most of us learned in the past. That’s because those methods won’t work in today’s world or with today’s job candidates.
Modern employees want to feel as if they’re a part of something exciting, and they have no qualms about job-hopping when they receive a better offer. Successful negotiations these days establish mutual trust and understanding with your future candidate so they start off on a positive note with your company. Their positive associations are likely to increase their future happiness and productivity, and will result in a successful, long-term hire that drives your company forward for years to come.
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