June 15, 2021
Hiring 30 July 2020
How to Handle Candidate Negotiations like a Pro
Guest Poster

What makes this job offer better than the job I already have? Does this company have the right cultural fit for me? Will this role offer me better employment perks? Are there superior career progression opportunities?The above are some of the questions likely running through your candidates' minds when conducting their job search. As a pro HR recruiter, you want to use your negotiation skills, reliable pay, decent perks, and the opportunity for career growth to attract and motivate the best talent to work for your company. HR managers can use negotiation skills from negotiation seminars to sell top candidates on the benefits of working for their company. 

Below, we discuss how you, as a recruiter, can negotiate like a pro to secure top talent, skills, and experience, without having to offer a big salary premium.

Define the Job Description

According to a study by ASQ, most executives care deeply about their job descriptions and job titles. Job titles and outlined responsibilities are important for the impact these details have on future employment prospects. 

An employee can use the job description to define their role in the company. The title can be used for employees to figure out workplace hierarchies, workplace dynamics, and career trajectories. So, it’s important for candidates to be able to see how they might fit into the workplace.

Begin by directing your candidate negotiations on the right path by setting out a clearly defined job description.

The right job description supports your search for the right candidate by weeding out mismatched candidates. Automated keyword checks connect you to your target audience. When you begin to receive respondents to your job ad, you can be confident the candidates have identified their skill sets as matching with your job description. 

Additionally, the job description you define gives you the opportunity to present additional tasks, responsibilities, and titles as benefits to be traded during negotiations. Your candidate is more likely to accept a job offer when presented with a better title or higher responsibility than the one advertised. In some instances, you can propose additional roles, responsibilities, and titles as benefits in lieu of more money if that’s what the candidate values more.Define Your Pay Structure

The National Business Research Institute reports that money is a key motivator for many executives and most employee negotiations center on salary issues. Most executives desire comfortable living with access to some luxuries.

Your candidates will likely want some perks, depending on skill level, knowledge, seminar training, and experience. Job candidates may want to know if their families are medically covered and their 401k funded. 

For successful negotiations, it may work in the company's best interests to have a clearly defined pay structure with just enough wiggle room for extra negotiation.

You want a pay structure that matches industry standards and attracts the right individuals. Your pay structure should reflect the job valuation method used while reflecting the company’s compensation philosophy. Use a standard job valuation method company-wide so you make salary offers that reflect the job’s relative worth. 

You want to pay your hires an amount supported by the value the employee brings. Some pay models to consider include:

  • A variable pay system: Paid on the attainment of organizational goals and performance targets, such as sales commissions based on attaining sales quotas.

  • Broadbanding: Works by banding together related job titles under a common cluster, which gives the employer some leeway to negotiate different pay for similar roles, depending on individual factors.

  • Competency-based pay structure: Compensation depends on the candidate’s competency, amount of seminars completed, and individual traits. Competency-based pay is complicated to administer and difficult to reinvent when company focus shifts.

  • Skills-based structure: Candidates are paid according to skill level rather than by job title.

Negotiate Working Hours

Apart from job titles and descriptions, one of the leading factors that professionals care about is the working hours. The 9-to-5 industrial model is not as crucial as it once was. With a 24-hour global economy, flexible working hours are becoming increasingly popular for many companies and their workforce.

As a recruiter or hiring manager, carefully analyze each role and figure out whether a flexible working plan is desirable or even possible. Having the option for flexible hours may boost your chances of landing a high-value employee. For instance, flexible hours may interest a high-value prospective employee who happens to be a parent and needs to spend more daylight hours on childcare.

Alternatively, you can explore the possibility of hiring a remote worker who reports into the office rarely, if at all. The possibility of remote work expands your recruitment from being limited to one geographical area to recruitment possibilities on a global scale. With an expanded choice of candidates, you have increased bargaining power and can access skills, pay scales, professional experiences, and sales markets that may not be available locally.

Handle Objections With Content Marketing

To achieve positive outcomes, engage in employer branding strategies that attract the right candidates, and addresses candidates’ main concerns. By the time candidates make applications or come into the interview, candidates are already aware of the company's reputation and job expectations and should be less likely to turn down your offer.

With the right content marketing strategy for employer branding, your candidate negotiations can benefit from:

  • A wider choice of talent: Readers may share your content with executives in similar fields, giving you a wider recruitment pool.

  • A better understanding of the target group: Engaging with potential candidates gives you an idea of what professionals in a particular field care most about, whether you're talking about salaries, perks, training seminars, technological advances, etc. With better understanding, you are better able to craft an offer that faces fewer objections.

  • Optimization of the employer's value proposition: Let your prospective candidates know that your company is an attractive, sustainable, and credible employer, and candidates should be more willing to accept your employment terms.

Approximate Your Lead Time Correctly

Hire too early, and you might not hire the right people or the best talent. Hire too late, and you might be hiring people to mitigate disasters. When you hire too early, you may be unable to accurately measure your needs. In the beginning phases of a business, it can be difficult to accurately determine your staffing needs. 

As an example, should you hire a fully trained accountant or can a bookkeeper adequately fill the role? Do you need a team of accomplished salespeople or can one sales expert become a leader or mentor to newcomers for future success?

How you time your recruitment and hiring efforts may have an impact on your negotiation strengths. If you're only hiring a legal expert after all your contracts have been found to be in breach of the law, then your candidates have the upper hand.

Negotiate On Work-Life Balance

As the recruiter or hiring manager, it's not entirely your responsibility to provide work-life balance for your candidates and employees. However, you stand a better chance of attracting the best candidates if your company’s values and policies support employee work-life balance choices. Millennials are especially aware of how their professional lives can infringe upon their personal lives.

Offering a work environment that supports a healthy work-life balance can increase productivity and profitability for the company. Candidates may be happier accepting a lower salary than expected if offered opportunities to enrich other areas of their personal lives. Some work-life balance bargaining chips you can use when negotiating with candidates include:

  • Paid Time Off (PTO): Removes the pressure for employees to account for how they use their sick days, vacation days, and other paid off-days.

  • Limit PTO carryover: Encourage your employees to use all their PTO instead of carrying PTO days into the next calendar year.

  • Allow unpaid leave: Federal labor laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) makes it possible for employees to take time off. However, the 12-week maximum may not always be sufficient. High-value candidates may request extended leave days to recover from major surgery, study non-job-related courses, travel for leisure, raise a newborn or adopt a child, enjoy honeymoons and anniversaries, or take time to redecorate their New York apartment.

  • Allow life-needs into the workplace: Executives are more likely to enjoy working under an environment of trust. Allow candidates to take small liberties like calling their kids and taking advantage of e-commerce sales to do some online shopping. 

  • Paid seminars for career enhancement: Employees value investment in their professional and personal growth, so supporting staff by enrolling them in seminars that fit their particular life goals sets a clear path for career progression.


Candidate negotiations are a part of the interviewing process that sets the future pace of the employer-employee relationship. The employer is likely looking to hire an affordable, value-creating employee while the candidate is seeking reliable pay, decent perks, and the opportunity for career growth.

As a hiring manager, you need a recruitment negotiation strategy that brings on board a happy employee ready to fulfill the company’s objectives. If you handle the negotiations like a pro, your top pick candidates will likely be less ambitious in their money aspirations in favor of the opportunity to join your team. 

Simon Beaufort is a long-time content creator and editor. Through his writings, Simon brings the best and most important negotiating lessons to a business audience. He also enjoys the opportunity to work with skilled negotiators, integrating best practices into his own life.