The Art of Negotiation

Jan 22, 2024

Is negotiation in recruitment a dying art? 

Whilst Chris Voss, in his brilliant book on negotiation tells us to “Never split the difference,” I see recruiters doing this all of the time.

So my question is “Is negotiation a dying art?”

If it is, I am going to make it my business to bring it back. By working on your negotiation skills you cannot fail to become a better recruiter and a better business operator. I also think it is the most fun part of the job! 

I believe that there are 6 golden rules to negotiation that we must consider before even entering into it. Please see these below:

The Rules of Negotiation


  • Don’t get into a position where you need to negotiate
  • Don’t negotiate with yourself
  • The other side is not your enemy, the situation is
  • Put yourself in their shoes
  • You always have more time 
  • Follow a negotiation structure



  1. Don’t get yourself into a position where you need to negotiate. My first ever mentor in negotiation was a brilliant sales trainer called Alan McCarthy. When I met him he had just finished delivering a programme for the SAS. The first rule of that programme was “Never get yourself into a position where you need to negotiate. In recruitment terms this means that if you get to a point where you want to sign terms or place a candidate and there is still loads of work to do, then you have probably run the sales process up to this point badly!

  2. Don’t Negotiate with yourself. How many times have you spoken to yourself or a colleague before a negotiation and you have said something like “I bet we are going to have to agree to 15%.” At the end of the negotiation this is exactly what has happened and you don’t feel great about it. When you are doing this, you are effectively negotiating with yourself, you are deciding the outcome before anything has happened. This is very dangerous if you want a positive outcome and you should not do it.

    What you should do is clear your mind before the negotiation, focus on the method you will use and then you are ready.

  3. The other side is not your enemy - the situation is. It is not you versus them. It is not a win or lose situation. The person you are negotiating with is not who you are up against, it is the situation. You must look at every negotiation from the standpoint that you are in this together, looking to get the best outcome for both parties.

  4. Put yourself in their shoes - As part of your preparation, consider what the other side is looking to achieve and more importantly, consider why. Think about if they have a personal agenda here and what it is. If you don’t know the answer to these, then you should make it a big part of the process to find out.

  5. You always have more time - Recruitment is fast paced. Everything has to be done now. We need to sometimes ignore this when negotiating. There is always time to break and book another call. There is always time to be unsure and then take a break to get some advice. There is always time to calm down, reset your emotions before going again. In summary, a quick deal is rarely a good deal. 

  6. Follow a Negotiation Structure - I believe that negotiation is like everything else in recruitment. There is a method and a system that you can learn to make you a much better negotiator. 

In summary, successful negotiation in recruitment is a delicate balance that requires strategic planning, effective communication, and a focus on collaborative problem-solving. By implementing the J9 strategies and maintaining a positive mindset, any recruiter can navigate negotiations with confidence and achieve outcomes that satisfy all parties involved.

Why not learn the J9 system? It has been developed via my 27 years of recruitment experience and also features some of Chris Voss’s (Never Split The Difference) and Alan McCarthy’s (SAS Negotiation Trainer). You can access it in two ways: Either in The Future Recruiter Course which is part of any of our subscription packages or you can access The Art of Negotiation. 

Both are available below!

J9 Store

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