Quick Guide: How to Negotiate Your Next Job Offer


You’ve done it! After submitting hundreds of resumes, participating in dozens of phone screenings, and a handful of in-person interviews, you (finally!) got a job offer. Cheers to you! Before we get ourselves too deep into party mode, however, let’s discuss job offer negotiation. You may not, I repeat, you may NOT accept the initial job offer that you get, and here’s why.

Why You Need to Negotiate Your Job Offer

Negotiating a job offer is incredibly important for so many reasons. First and foremost, companies are expecting you to make a counter-offer. The majority of companies are going to offer the lowest they can and will expect negotiations to take place. When you negotiate a job offer, it shows the company that you have done industry research, you are confident, and you know your self-worth. Now that’s a great first impression to make! Finally, research points out some shocking statistics about the percentage of women negotiating job offers compared to men that must change in order to level the playing field of the gender pay gap which shows how women are getting paid 80 cents for every $1 a man makes. 

It’s startling but true – only 30% of women negotiate their salaries when they receive a job offer compared to 46% of men. I must admit, in the beginning of my career, I didn’t negotiate anything about my job offer. In my first professional job, I taught middle school science in an urban school district in Denver for 3 years. As a young professional, I was naive in thinking that I was getting the fairest compensation that could be given to me with my education and experience in consideration. My work schedule was based on the academic school year, so there wasn’t much room for vacation negotiations, either. By doing some basic salary research just now, however, I can see that I was given a below-market base salary in Denver but had no idea at the time. I’m sure if I asked a handful of my girlfriends if they negotiated any parts of their job offer at their current job, they would say no. Why not? I think I know the answer, or one of them, at least. Graduating college a few years after the 2008 stock market crash, we’ve been trained to be grateful for a job offer and to gladly accept. How many of us ever received any training or practiced how to negotiate a job offer? I didn’t. I have had to learn on my own through research, trial, and error, how to get good and comfortable negotiating job offers. 

With that, today I’m so happy to share a quick guide on how to negotiate your next job offer that’s simple, to the point, and will hopefully empower you to continue advocating for yourself at your new workplace.


1. Do Your Research

The very first step that you can do even before you get a job offer letter is to do some basic research about what you are worth – your market value. A few helpful websites that have free resources to guide you through this process include PayscaleSalary.com, and Glassdoor. These websites ask you to share information about your industry, title, years of experience, location, and more to best determine your market value. For those of you who are NOT job searching, the above-mentioned resources can still be used to help you determine your market value if you’re interested in crafting a salary negotiation during a formal review, as well.

By researching and determining your market value, you can create a high and low salary range that you are comfortable working within. Your market value needs to be pre-determined before you start getting job offers (it will keep you honest once the offers do come about what you’re willing to accept). Bottom line: know what you’re worth!


2. Show Your Excitement

Landing a job offer is a BFD! You outshined all the other candidates, and the company chose you. In any case – via over the phone, in person, or in email – be thankful and show your enthusiasm for the job offer. Reiterate how excited you are about the role and the value you know that you can bring to the company. Remember, though, NEVER accept the initial job offer right away. Simply respond by saying that you’re most excited to review the offer details, and ask when they need a final answer by (or you can suggest a day and ask if that timeframe is doable for them). 


3. Review the Offer 

Once you have the job offer, it’s time review all aspects of it. What is the role title, base salary, bonus structure, vacation time, health insurance, tuition reimbursement, an employer retirement match, and other important benefits like? You can negotiate multiple aspects of the offer if you’d like, not just compensation. One of my girlfriends took a role with a pay cut and negotiated an extra 5 days of vacation time. If there’s a bonus structure, you can ask to earn a higher percentage (have a specific percentage in mind) if you exceed your sales targets within the first 6 months. Other benefits that you could ask for that you may overlook include flexible work arrangements (working from home), a contribution to a health savings account, commuter perks, and more. Take notes on aspects of the offer that you would like to negotiate.


4. Prep & Slay Your Negotiations

Before negotiations begin, you need to be ready to make a strong case for yourself in order to persuade your prospective employer as to why they should agree to your terms. It’s essential that you clearly convey how you will add value to their company – by driving business growth, improving efficiencies, cost savings, process improvements, etc.

In regards to the proper communication channel to use for negotiations, it totally depends on what you’re comfortable with. Having just negotiated my own job offer last week, I can tell you how I made the choice to negotiate over the phone. 

First, it’s often difficult getting an appointment in person with the people you need to talk to for negotiations. If you can get an in-person appointment, and you feel confident in sticking to what you want from the negotiations and not faltering, then an in-person negotiation is a big power move. It’s much easier to discuss the offer and read everyone’s tone and body language in-person. You’ll most likely get immediate feedback in-person, as well. 

On the other hand, if it’s challenging to get an appointment or you simply don’t feel comfortable negotiating in-person, then do it over the phone. Not only can you still read a person’s tone of voice, but you can have a script in front of you to guide you throughout the negotiation (I did this). This way, you can be certain to stick to what you believe you’re worth and what you need in order to accept the offer. Below is a sample script that I created for my own job offer negotiation (focused specifically on negotiating base salary):

Phone: Rrrrrring!
HR Manager: Hi this is HR MANAGER’S NAME.
You: Hi HR MANAGER’S NAME, it’s YOUR NAME calling. How are you?
HR Manager: Hi YOUR NAME! I’m doing well, how are you?
You: I’m well, thank you. Am I catching you at a good time?
HR Manager: Sure. What can I help you with?
You: Great, I would like to discuss a few details about the job offer for XXX role that you gave me yesterday, if that’s alright with you.
HR Manager: Of course.
You: Great! First, I have two general questions. What is the current percent employer match for the retirement savings plan (ask a specific question)?
HR Manager: This year it is ___ percent (you will get a specific answer).
You: Okay, thank you. Secondly, what commuter benefits, if any, are available (ask another specific question)?
HR Manager: For this particular role, we provide an unlimited monthly metrocard every month (you will get another specific answer).
You: Got it. Thank you again for the offer that you extended to me for the XXX role. I’m really confident that I will make a significant contribution to the growth of THE COMPANY’S NAME over the short and long term.
I’m very excited about the offer and think that we are close to an agreement. However, I would like to talk to you about compensation. Yesterday, when you told me the base salary for the role, I was taken aback. I have notes from our initial phone conversation last month where we discussed my salary expectations, and you agreed that this role fit within my salary range of X AMOUNT. 
With my education, skills, and previous work experience as a  XXX and growing a program (plug whatever impressive feat that you did here) by over X% within 12 months, I have a higher market value than the X AMOUNT that you’re offering. The current offer would result in a dramatic reduction in my living standard. Because you told me that this role fit into my salary expectations, I pursued it and have become really invested in joining THE COMPANY’S NAME team.
Like I mentioned, I know that I will have an immediate impact on increasing THE COMPANY’S NAME revenue through X,Y, and Z (bring up how you will accomplish this). Based on that, I would like for you to consider – as a compromise – a base salary of X AMOUNT. 
HR Manager: We are already at our top range for this role at X AMOUNT. 
You: I wholeheartedly want to accept your offer, but we have to come to come to a compromise on base salary before I can do that. I not only fulfill the listed qualifications for the job, but I’ve also done X, Y, and Z (further proof of things you’ve done and how you will  add value to at the company) and am very experienced in _______, which will increase THE COMPANY’S NAME revenue. This increase in base salary will be a drop in the bucket. If you can make this modest base salary improvement to the offer, then I will gladly accept and my performance will show you a great return on your investment.


HR Manager: Let me talk to the team and get back to you.
You: Great, I appreciate it. Thank you! 


HR Manager: The current base salary offer is the highest we can possibly go.
You: Unfortunately, if you can’t meet my base salary compromise, then this may not be the best fit for us. I’ll have to consider another opportunity. (You have to know the floor you’re willing to accept for your base salary and must be prepared to walk away at this point). Thank you very much for your time.

I practiced this phone script out loud over a dozen times to make sure that I sounded even-toned, warm, and confident before calling to negotiate. It definitely takes some practice striking the right tone when you haven’t negotiated much before. Although you will need to craft your own version of this script, do know that mine helped me soo much. The biggest takeaway for me was that I called prepared to hear no and to work my way through it. If that had happened and I didn’t prep for different scenarios, I probably would have frozen and would have sounded insecure, unsure of myself, and possibly could have accepted an offer I wasn’t satisfied with – not the best way to start a new job.

That’s a wrap on my quick guide for negotiating your next job offer that you should save, bookmark, and keep in mind the next time you’re given an offer. The bottom line is: do not accept the initial job offer, no matter what! Know your market value and don’t settle. I hope that you will walk confidently into your next job offer negotiation, know your self-worth, sell the company on the value that you’re going to add, and get what is a fair market price for your experience and expertise. 

Have other negotiating tips ‘n tricks? Share them in the comments below.