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Job Negotiation Demo

Preliminary work: You have (a) created a budget and know your needs, (b) conducted thorough research on the company’s compensation/benefits/perks and (c) determined a fair market value (a salary range) for the geographic area. For this demo, the research documents a salary range of $50,000-60,000; you have selected a salary goal of $53,000 with an excellent benefit package. 

Strategy: It's easy to build negotiation skills by remembering the mnemonic L-T-R, which stands for Listen, Think and Respond:

  1. LISTEN carefully to what they say and how they say it. Be patient!
  2. THINK about what they offered and how well it matches your goals. 
  3. RESPOND carefully, in a calm, polite and professional manner. 


Here is an example of how you might listen, think and respond during a job offer negotiation. 

Listen to the offer:  “If you are still interested in working with us, we are pleased to offer you $45,000.”

Think to yourself: This below my targeted range of $50-60,000. However, they did not say firm or final or non-negotiable.    

Respond with something like: “I am pleased to have an offer and remain highly interested in working with your team. As we discussed in the interview, I have directly-related experience and technical skills that will enable me to immediately make contributions to your company. Based on our discussion, I anticipated a higher salary offer. Are you open to a discussion about salary?”

[Say no more. Remain calm. Wait patiently. Observe facial expressions, eye contact, voice tone and body language for signs of anger or frustration.]

Listen for a raised offer: "We can come up to $48,000.”

Think to yourself: They are willing to negotiate, but the offer is still below fair market value. Because they did not say firm or final, I am going to try again.    

Respond with something like: “Thank you. I appreciate your flexibility and willingness to work with me. However, I studied several databases that suggest entry level workers in this area with similar job titles are earning between $50,000-60,000. Would you be willing to work within that salary range?"

[Say no more. Remain calm. Wait patiently. Continue to observe.] 

Listen for a raised offer:  “We can go to $50,000, which is at the top of our hiring range for this position. This is our final offer. It is non-negotiable.”

Think to yourself: They are no longer willing to negotiate salary. They have come up $5,000, which is a good sign they value my potential. Perhaps I can later negotiate (a) non-financial benefits in lieu of a higher starting salary or (b) the possibility of a performance raise after a 6-month probationary period. I should ask about benefits.

Respond enthusiastically with something like:  “Thank you very much! I respect your honesty and understand your need to stay within a certain range. May I ask you a few questions about your total compensation package?”

[The conversation continues until all financial and non-financial benefits are understood.]

Listen for closure: "It sounds like we are in agreement. Will you accept our offer of $50,000 with the benefits we discussed?" 

Think to yourself: This has gone well. I want maintain a positive relationship, so I am not going to push them on salary at this time. I need time to think this over. 

Respond sincerely with something like: "I appreciate your willingness to work with me and answer all of my questions. As you might imagine, I have a lot of information to process. Could I please have your offer in writing, so that I can make sure that I understand the total compensation package in its entirety?"

[Say no more. Remain calm. Wait patiently. Continue to observe.] 

Listen for closure: "Normally we obtain a verbal commitment before drawing up paperwork. How soon can you let us know?" 

Think to yourself: I have asked for something unusual. I want this job, so I need to re-establish trust with them.  

Respond with something like: "Let me assure you that I am highly enthused about working here! I want to make certain that I listened well and understood everything correctly. I can get back to you right away - within a day of receiving the written offer. Would you like me to call you or do you prefer an email?"

Conclusion: HR experts suggest that job offer negotiations should be viewed as collaborative problem solving, rather than conflict resolution. Remember that this is the start of a promising work relationship, so aim for a win-win outcome. Always acknowledge the other person’s points and concerns. Remain polite and professional. Control your voice volume and tone and facial expressions. Avoid emotional appeals and assertions by offering data as rationale for a higher salary request. Good luck!

- 2015 copyright Robin G Walker, PhD