What Freelancers need to know before Negotiating with Recruiters

"Recruiters work with a fixed budget from the client and their commission is not fixed. "

When I was working as a recruiter and I asked freelancers about their rate, most of the times they gave me the answer: ‘Between 90 and 110 euros per hour’. Well, I can assure you, 90 euros was the most likely outcome.

Recruiters work with a fixed budget from the client and their commission is not fixed. This means that recruiters benefit when your rate is as low as possible. 

Here are the things you should know about the position of agencies and clients before you share your rate with them. Also, I will share some general advises for going into negotiations. 

Determine your rate. 

Freelance rates can vary depending on the kind of project. Make sure that you define your own salary expectation before you start. 

What is the market rate? 

There is also a difference in freelance rates in for example different sectors or skills. It is very important to find out what your skills are worth in the market. If you quote yourself too low, you can seem unprepared or even less skilled. The easiest way to do research is to ask fellow freelancers. 

Be confident. 

It is just as important to show confidence in your skills as it is to get a foot in the door with as many recruiters as possible. This doesn’t mean that you should oversell yourself. Be confident in the rate that you decided is fairly quoted. 

Don’t be shy and ask. 

There is absolutely no shame in asking the budget to the recruiter. On the contrary, it is very smart. It will put the recruiter in a position that he has to be open about their commission, so you can get the most out of the deal. If they claim not to be able to share the budget, you can ask yourself if you are dealing with a trustable agent. 

Recruiters have a fixed budget. 

So go for a fixed commission. As long as the budget is fixed, but the commission is flexible, you have conflicting interests. When both the budget and the commission is fixed, you will have common interests.

Ask if you have competition. 

If you are the only candidate, you are the winner. When there are more candidates, you are less sure of your position. Adapt your price strategy accordingly.

Never talk about a range. 

As a recruiter, I was always trying to get a range with the motivation that it would able me to negotiate with the client on your behalf. This is not true. It gave me ammo to negotiate with you. If you would like to give a fair answer, you can say, ‘My rate is 110, depending on the project and duration’. When you are asked about your minimum rate, don’t share it unless the commission is fixed. 

Wait with negotiating. 

Always try to calculate your chances. If you are the perfect candidate in the eyes of the recruiter, this means you can make his deal successful. They will be willing to pay for that. Also, a recruiter will always try to agree on the rate, before you will be presented to the client. Which is fair. However, it is in your benefit to wait with negotiating as you have a stronger negotiating position when selected by the client.

Be fair and be nice. 

If you are really the winning lottery ticket and you know what you are worth, don’t abuse your position. Give the recruiter his deserved share as well. Be fair. Next to that, be transparent and make the connection with the recruiter. Be nice. They will be happy to award you.

There are clear do’s and don’ts for negotiating, but intuition remains very important as well. To improve that you need experience. 

Now you are more informed about the position of the other side of the table, you are ready to practice. 

Good luck!

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