How to follow your script to maximize your starting salary and other benefits at a new job.
The company made you an offer and you asked for some time to think it over. Then you countered, hopefully in an email that also made a strong case for why your skillset and experience are valuable to the company. The company will likely take some time to discuss things internally and determine how high they want to go within the window that has been established between their offer and your counter. Once they’ve determined how far they can go, they’ll usually reach out for one more discussion. The final discussion is almost always a phone call, but will sometimes be by email.
You should have your script from the previous section ready to go because the final discussion will probably move quickly. You’ll exchange greetings, then the recruiter or hiring manager will let you know that they’ve discussed your counter internally and they’re prepared to offer some amount. You can’t know that exact amount before they say it out loud, but that’s okay because you’ve already written a script that covers most of their possible responses.
Once they react to your counter, your next response will often end the negotiation. You’ll either say, “I’m sorry, I just can’t accept an offer that low. The absolute lowest I can accept is [your minimum acceptable number].” Or you’ll say, “That’s pretty close, and if we can settle on [some number], I’m on board right now.” Or you’ll say, “That sounds good to me! Let’s do it!” This is all in your script.
When they respond to the “…if we can settle on [some number], I’m on board right now” by saying, “We can’t come up that far. The best we can do is [their final offer]”, then you can try to get some other benefits by asking if there are other levers that can be adjusted. Here is how you might ask about those other benefits:
“Okay, so the best you can do on base salary is [their final offer]. Can we talk about what other levers might be available in terms of other benefits?”
Some of those levers might be vacation days, work location, reimbursements, signing bonus, start date, or whatever you listed in your script when you prepared for the final discussion. Once you’ve tried to get those other benefits, you’ll have a clear picture of your best-case scenario and can either accept their final offer or not.
If the negotiation ends and you won’t be joining the company, that’s okay because it means the company simply couldn’t offer you the minimum amount you would be willing to accept for this job. This is ultimately a good outcome because it means that you didn’t wind up with a job where the pay isn’t sufficient for your needs. Send a short thank-you email to the recruiter, including your contact information, to make sure everything is amicable. Be sure to let them know they can reach out to you any time if they find another opportunity that may be a good fit for you.
If you were able to come to an agreement, congratulations! The recruiter or hiring manager probably has the next action to get final approval for your offer and confirm your start date, so just hang back and wait for things to take shape.
I'm Josh Doody, a professional salary negotiation coach who helps High Earners negotiate their job offers. On average, High Earners improve their first-year compensation by $47,273 with my help.
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