Your resume is a critical tool to help you sell yourself to potential employers. It provides the perfect venue for showcasing all the important skills that set you apart from your job search competitors. However, it is important to know which skills to include to better differentiate yourself from the crowd. One important skill that many job-seekers often neglect is the ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, that omission can be a missed opportunity – since negotiation skills are highly prized by many employers.
In this post, we’ll explain why these abilities matter and look at some of the most important negotiation abilities employers look for in new hires. We will also examine some top tips to help you include negotiation skills in your resume.
What are negotiation skills, anyway?
Are you a great negotiator? The average person may hear “negotiation skills” and think that they’re only needed at jobs where major business deals are hammered out. However, negotiation skills are used in most workplaces to some extent. Leaders use them. Managers use them. And yes, most employees use them in one manner or another. They just don’t recognize that they’re negotiating.
So, what are negotiation skills? At their simplest, they are all the skills used to reach some level of compromise or accommodation with others. These skills range from communication abilities to creative thinking and collaborative talents. Workplace negotiation skills are common but also commonly misunderstood. The fact is that we all negotiate, in one way or another, with co-workers, managers, customers, and company leaders. The key is to identify your negotiation strengths and figure out how to convey those skills to a prospective employer.
Expand your knowledge: We wrote a good post here on the right skills to include in a resume.
Negotiation skills on a resume
Experienced hiring managers recognize the important role that negotiation skills can play in workplace success. They understand that the ability to negotiate effectively can provide immediate value to their company. As noted, most jobs involve some level of negotiation skill. For some jobs, however, they are critical. For example, your ability to negotiate effectively can be a vital skill if your job requires you to:
Hammer out the details of a contract negotiation
Reach accommodations with vendors
Collaborate with team members to determine project roles
Find common ground with customers to reach an agreement on sale terms
Manage customer service complaints
Find mutually agreeable solutions to workplace disputes
Set acceptable project deadlines
Manage teams within the workplace
Manage outsourced work
Each of these duties and responsibilities requires a keen sense of negotiation. Without those skills, you would be hard-pressed to ever reach an agreement with superiors, colleagues, vendors, or clients. However, when you have the ability to negotiate at high levels of efficiency, all of those accommodations and collaborations can be achieved with less friction and fewer obstacles.
How to include negotiation skills in your resume
Of course, identifying your key negotiation skills is just part of the battle. You will also need to effectively convey those soft skills to the employer. That will require you to include those skills within your resume in a way that best highlights their importance. Here are some of the most important negotiation skills that you can list in your resume. When including them in your resume or cover letter, you will want to also include an example of how you used the skills to benefit your previous employers.
Negotiation skills examples for your resume
Remember that you shouldn't simply describe yourself as a great negotiator within the body of your resume. Instead, you should use action words in the descriptions you write that detail your negotiating ability. Basically, you want to use descriptive terms that illustrate your negotiation skills rather than simply declaring that you possess the talent. For example:
The ability to analyze situations and people
The ability to engage others when brainstorming for solutions
Good compromise skills
Tactful interrogation skills
Creative problem-solving skills
The ability to view things from other perspectives
Group leadership to facilitate debate
A commitment to trust-building
Solid interpersonal skills
Sound planning abilities
Dedication to civil discourse
Ability to summarize main areas of disagreement
Ability to find common ground
Contract negotiation skills
Business negotiation skills
5 key negotiation skills you need to highlight
Obviously, there are a lot of different abilities that you can cite as negotiating skills in a resume. As a result, you should feel free to use as many of the terms listed above as you feel appropriate. However, there are five critical abilities that you should always include when listing effective negotiation skills in a resume.
Effective negotiations always rely on communication skills. If you are unable to convey ideas or understand what others are saying, you will always struggle to find the common ground needed to succeed in any negotiation effort.
When negotiating, communication takes many forms:
You need to be able to establish clear guidelines and boundaries. Those parameters let everyone know just how far you’re willing to go to reach an accommodation.
You also need to be able to use active listening to identify other people’s needs and wants. That critical information can inform your communication and help you find a common ground solution to any challenge.
You should always display a commitment to civil discourse. If your negotiating tactics include a disrespectful tone, insults, or other negativity, you’re not likely to succeed in finding a compromise.
2. Strategic thinking
Every good negotiator possesses a keen strategic mind. You have to be able to enter into a negotiation with a strategic plan if you want to achieve your defined goals. This preparation will enable you to identify the best way to create value for your negotiating partner – something that is essential if you want others to reach an agreement with you. That strategy requires you to know your role in the negotiating process, recognize the value you bring to the table, how that can benefit the other party, and understand your partner’s perspective in the discussions.
3. Emotional intelligence
Emotions are almost always a factor in human interactions, and that’s true in negotiations too. Everyone who participates in these types of discussions enters the negotiations with their own emotions. The ability to understand everyone’s feelings can help you to better comprehend their goals and identify potential solutions that can satisfy those needs. In fact, a high level of emotional intelligence can provide you with an advantage in all types of negotiations, whether you’re closing a major business expansion deal or an important sale.
Good negotiators are always analyzing their own experiences to identify areas in which they can improve. The very best of these professionals are able to conduct self-assessment during their negotiations, recognizing potential missteps and adjusting their approach on the fly. Consider your most recent negotiation effort. What could you have done differently? Which opportunities did you potentially miss? Did you identify every area of potential value for yourself or your negotiating partner?
5. Understanding value
One key negotiation skill that is sometimes overlooked is the ability to fully understand the important role that value creation plays in the negotiation process. Whenever you negotiate, you need to be able to focus on value and the best ways to maximize it for everyone involved. Typically, there are two ways to look at this value proposition. The first option is to focus on winning the negotiation. The second option is to ensure that everyone wins.
Most unsuccessful negotiations occur when one or both parties focus on winning instead of achieving success for everyone involved. After all, if you win the negotiation only by getting more value than your negotiating partner, you’ll be less likely to obtain an agreement. However, if you can find ways to expand the amount of value an agreement brings to both parties, then it is easier to ensure that everyone walks away believing that they negotiated a winning solution.
Backing up your claims
As noted earlier, it is important to be able to provide examples of times when these skills served you well in past job positions. You should also be prepared to discuss those skills during any interview that you might earn. Remember, your resume presentation has one main goal: to get you an interview. You should plan ahead so that you can further illustrate these important skills during that interview. That will help to solidify their importance in the mind of the hiring manager and could be the thing that helps you to land that job!
Want to make sure that your resume has what it takes to capture a hiring manager’s attention and earn you that critical interview? Get your free resume review today!
Ken Chase, Freelance Writer
During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.