[Image] Employer and candidate negotiating with recruiter in between them

By Kelly Nelson

It is common for the client and candidate to seek the recruiter’s guidance when it comes to the negotiation stage of the recruitment process. The recruiter needs to develop a true trust relationship with both the client and the candidate.

While the recruiter must understand the objectives and limitations of his or her client company, they must also understand the various motivations of the candidate. This results in the recruiter’s ability to pull both parties together in any negotiation. The experienced recruiter should have the ability to form creative solutions that draw on these understandings and provide meaningful benefit to each party.

Negotiating For Clients

The recruiter must be able to suggest creative solutions to clients that provide unique methods of reaching closure with candidates. Oftentimes, the client company is unable and unwilling to adjust the base salary when asked by the candidate. There are many ways to solve this apparent impasse. We have assisted clients in creating partial guarantee bonuses, sign on bonuses, additional perquisites, more aggressive bonus plans, and enhanced relocation packages that result in narrowing the gap between the two parties’ negotiation positions.

Read More: Ask a Recruiter: What Company Perks Do Candidates Really Want?

Negotiating For Candidates

The closing negotiation often involves compensation – but not always. It is imperative that the recruiter has the candidate consider total compensation, and not just base salary. The recruiter must also be able to provide the candidate with “vision” regarding how the opportunity can potentially advance their long-term career. The recruiter must always cause the candidate to focus on the long-term horizon, and the potential for career growth.

Knowledge of local and state income tax rates can assist the candidate in understanding that taxation is another significant metric involved in compensation. Ultimately, it comes down to take home pay – not just gross income. This also applies to cost of living. For instance, a candidate in San Francisco, CA considering a position in Orlando, FL is looking at real estate cost reduction that will be significant. If they own a home, the home equity differential can be a real wealth builder. If they currently rent, but aspire to own, this may be very possible in a less expensive real estate market. Finally, an understanding of available public and private education options can be highly attractive to a candidate with children in school.

Read More: Counter Offer Considerations

Keep in mind that the recruiter must be credible, resourceful, and helpful to both parties in the transaction. Negotiating will be one of the most difficult stages in the recruitment process if the recruiter fails to build the aforementioned trust relationships.

Kelly Nelson, Sr. Vice President

Kelly Nelson joined Bristol Associates, Inc. in 1995 with initial responsibility for our long standing Hotel and Resorts Industry Practice.  As Bristol expanded, Kelly was instrumental in the development of additional lines of business in the Travel and Tourism, Cruise Line, Theme Park and Attractions, Facility Management, Fixed Site Entertainment, and Facilities & Concession Services industry segments. Click here to connect with Kelly on LinkedIn.


Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with a 50-year history of excellence. Bristol specializes in recruiting for companies and candidates in the casino gaming, food manufacturing, hospital/healthcare, hotels/resorts, travel/tourism/attractions, facilities/concessions, and restaurant businesses.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a job seeker.


  1. Experience is the teacher here, and since the recruiter presumably knows the company, he/she is working for and wants to work for again after this placement he/she walks a tightrope where the relationship and credibility are important. From an applicant point of view, the same holds true, helping the candidate thoroughly evaluate an offer without emotion is where the recruiter earns his/her keep. The entire recruiter, applicant, company process is like making soup, yes, there is a list of ingredients however the customization of the soup is, in the end, a matter seasoning to match taste preference.

  2. Kelly Nelson

    Well said, Mark.

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