Negotiating Worksheet

Successful negotiation starts with effective planning. The goal is to create a win-win for everyone, as it is (hopefully) the start of a long, successful relationship.

Download printable worksheet


Step One: What are the needs & wants of each party?

What makes you excited about the possibilities of working for the organization?

What makes them excited about the possibilities of working with you and/or having you on the team?

What do you need out of this offer? What are the deal breakers for you?

What does the organization want out of a candidate?

What are the deal-breakers (requirements)?

What would a really good offer look like for you? (A realistic stretch, not a “pie in the sky”.)

What would a minimally acceptable offer look like for you?

What options do you think the organization has besides hiring you?

What options do you have besides this job?

Always Remember: evaluate the offer as an entire package.

Know what you value and what they value, so that you can make effective trade-offs. A trade-off is a request for more of one thing, in exchange for less of something else.


Step Two: Research!

Research the organization & their culture. Talk to someone in the company to gain information (e.g., alumni, colleagues, friends, mentors, friends of friends). Ask questions such as:

  • What salary range should I expect? What is the level of pay for similar positions?
  • What do you wish you had negotiated up front?
  • What is the review cycle? What are the opportunities for career advancement?

What do you uncover during your research?

Research the market value for your position and skill set.

What do you uncover during your research?


Step Three: Create reasonable and fact-based rationales for requests

Never voice a request, or give a number, in isolation. It should be coupled with logical justification, such as:

  • Equity-based fairness: What you get out of a situation should be commensurate with what you put in. (E.g., I’m requesting X because I am bringing unique skills & expertise to your organization.)
  • Equality-based fairness: Everyone should get the same amount. (E.g., I’m requesting X because that is what others are making in this position. It is what the market dictates.)
  • Needs-based fairness: Resources should go where they are most needed. (E.g., I’m requesting X because I need to pay off my student loans and relocate.)

What rationales can you use for your requests?

Always Remember: the goal is a win-win for everyone!
If you are interested in the job, show your interest! Look for solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

  • Ask questions.
  • If you have constraints, share them.
  • Focus on “we”; don’t give a list of demands.
  • Be reasonable & rational!

Useful Phrases

When you get an offer:

  • “I’m really excited about the possibility of working here! Thank you for the offer; how much time do I have to look this over and is there a good time for us to get together again to go over questions?”
  • “Thank you for the offer. May I think about it over during the next week (or overnight / over the weekend) and give you an answer on X date?

When you received a lower salary than expected:

  • “How was the salary determined?” “Is there any flexibility?”
  • “I was expecting X due to my (insert unique skills / strengths / experience here). Is there anything else you can do, or perhaps add to the package?”
  • “I am really excited to work here, and I know that I will bring a lot of value due to my X. I appreciate the initial offer, but was really expecting it to be a bit higher. Can we look at a salary of Y for this position?”
  • “All things being equal, I would prefer to join this organization rather than my alternative. But because there is such a discrepancy in salary, it is a difficult decision.”
  • “My understanding is that X is a typical starting salary range for this position. Can we revise the salary to reflect that range?”

Responses to “This is the salary we budgeted and we feel it’s fair.”

  • “I understand where you are coming from, and just want to reiterate my enthusiasm for working here. I think my skills are perfectly suited and you will see very quickly that they are worth Y.”
  • “Maybe I haven’t conveyed enough the value I think I can bring to your organization. I really feel that I am coming in at a higher level than what you are offering. Did you note I have (insert unique skills / strengths / experience here).”
  • “I understand your constraints around the starting salary. I’m sure I will demonstrate value quickly; is there a way we can include a 6-month salary review in this offer?”
  • “I understand your constraints. Can we look at the other aspects of this offer; I’m sure there is a way to make this work for everyone.”

For questions on work/life balance:

  • “What is the policy on flextime?” Or “Is there a possibility for flextime?”
  • “Because of X, I would love the potential for flextime. Is this a possibility?”

For questions on continuing education:

  • “What is your policy around continuing education?”
  • “I was hoping to attend X conference next year; can we include that in this offer?”
  • “There are some helpful courses I was hoping to take to augment my experience. Can we include tuition reimbursement for these courses in the offer?”

When you cannot meet on an agreement:

  • “I’d love to join this organization / team, but unfortunately at this time the offer does not meet my needs (or, at this time I’m not sure this is a good fit). I’d love to stay in touch and potentially we can work together in the future.”
  • “Thank you for the time and the offer. Unfortunately, I have found something better-suited to where I am right now, but I would love to stay in touch for the future.”

Be reasonable, honest, and solution-oriented. Remember your value!

Interested in learning more? Check out these great resources:

Last updated:

August 22, 2017