Why HR Personnel Need To Think Like Lawyers

The Great Recession has led to long-lasting changes in US businesses. Throughout the downturn, budgets were slashed and HR teams found themselves negotiating everything from salary and benefits to early retirement buyouts, to vendor contracts.  Nearly a decade later, companies are still clinging to that “lean” mentality and HR professionals are still tasked with doing more with fewer resources, despite healthy profits. A skilled HR workforce needs to be adept at the art of negotiation to position the company for strong results, and that means HR personnel need to start thinking like lawyers.


Evaluate The Opposition

Calling a potential candidate, a vendor or an employee “the opposition” might seem aggressive. After all, once the deal is struck, everyone will be on the same team. However, if you’re thinking like an attorney, you have to know who you are up against. Are they aggressive or passive? Impatient or measured? When you have a strong grasp of their communication style, you can plan your approach.


Make sure to learn all you can about the candidate, employee or vendor you are dealing with. What are the factors driving them? What are their priorities? What do they want to get out of the deal? When you find areas that are mutually beneficial and points on which you agree, you’ll lay the foundation for a fruitful negotiation.


Give Them Something They Want

Attorneys throw their opposition bones as a means of gaining the upper hand by letting the other party think they’ve won early.  When you know what the other party really wants, compare it with the package you are willing to offer. Find one point to which you can concede. For a candidate, it might be something small like extra vacation days. Letting go of a minor point early in the conversation shows that you are willing to work with them, and provides you with leverage to get them to concede on other points if they dig in their heels. Remember that a successful negotiation leaves both parties feeling as though they gave a little and received a lot.


Get To The Finish Line

To negotiate skillfully, you must know your priorities and your end dollar amount. If necessary, it is appropriate to take a hard line on that. If you must invoke your bottom line deal, tie it back to the terms you discussed in previous conversations.  Once the deal is struck, outline the terms in writing and submit it quickly to the other party.


Today’s HR personnel must possess a litany of hard and soft skills in order to help the organization meet its goals. Now, more than ever, they need the added skill of negotiation.  If you are looking to staff your HR department with top talent who have mastered the art of negotiation, or if your internal team is looking for a recruiting partner with a proven track record, connect with the professional recruiters at Contemporary Staffing Solutions today. We can help you build the team you need to drive your business forward.