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.
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.
- Use sites such as salary.com, payscale.com, glassdoor.com
- Look at advertised salary ranges in job postings
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!
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:
- The Exact Words to Use When Negotiating Salary (US News & World Report)
- 7 Negotiation Tips Given To Harvard Business School Students (Business Insider)
- The Essentials of Job Negotiations: Proven Strategies for Getting What You Want (book)
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (book)
- How to Negotiate Your Next Salary (Harvard Business Review Article)