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Salary negotiation script example

An example script for negotiating starting salary

Once you've responded to your job offer with a counter offer, the company will probably respond with something between your job offer and your counteroffer. That's your negotiation window. Your goal is to maximize your salary within that window.

Here's a salary negotiation counteroffer calculator you can use to determine your counter offer: Salary negotiation script and counter offer calculator

Salary negotiation script example from a real negotiation

In this example the company has made an offer of $50,000, and you have countered at $56,000. Your negotiation window is now $50,000$56,000. This sample salary negotiation script is your plan for hashing out the final details of your compensation package in the Final Discussion by first maximizing your base salary and then negotiating for additional benefits.

(Your Minimum Acceptable Salary is the underlined row.)

$56,000 (Counter)

  • $55,000 - Sounds good, when do I start?
  • $54,000 - $55,000 and I'm on board! - (1) Extra vacation (2) Work from home (3) Reimburse office
  • $53,000 - $54,000 and I'm on board! - (1) Extra vacation (2) Work from home (3) Reimburse office
  • $52,000 - $54,000 and I'm on board! - (1) Extra vacation (2) Work from home (3) Reimburse office
  • $51,000 - I can't accept less than $52,000.

$50,000 (Offer)

How to use this script

The company will discuss your counter internally and determine how much they can pay you. Then you will often have a quick phone call with the recruiter or hiring manager to determine your final salary and other benefits.

When the company responds to your counter, use this script to maximize your starting salary and benefits. For each step, if they accept your proposal, then you're finished. If they don't accept your proposal, go to the next step.

  1. Use the first statement as your first response. In this example, if the company comes back with $55,000, you'll say, "Sounds good, when do I start?" If the company comes back with $54,000, you'll say, "$55,000 and I'm on board!"
  2. If they do not accept your first response, take the current salary as your base and request your highest-priority benefit. In this example, if the company comes back with $53,000, then you say "If you can do $54,000, I'm on board!"

    If they stick with $53,000, then you would say, "I understand the best you can do is $53,000 and you can't come up to $54,000. If you can do $53,000 and offer an extra week of paid vacation each year, then I'm on board."

  3. If they do not accept your highest-priority benefit, then you move on to your second-priority benefit. To continue our example, you would say, "We're at $53,000 and you're unable to offer an extra week of paid vacation. But if you can allow me to work remotely from home two days a week, I'm on board!"
  4. If they do not accept your second-priority benefit, you move on to your third-priority benefit.

Regardless of whether they accept your response, then you're finished. You have maximized your base salary and maximized your benefits as well.

This is a real salary negotiation script I used during a salary negotiation

I've changed the names and numbers, but this salary negotiation script example is based on a real script I used to negotiate starting salary.

Here are the steps I took after receiving a verbal job offer from the hiring manager:

  1. Asked for time to consider the offer using one of these job offer letter response templates
  2. Calculated my counter offer.
  3. Drafted my response using this salary negotiation email template.
  4. Sent the draft email to a friend to get his feedback (I can do this for you as part of a strategy session!).
  5. Edited the draft based on my friend's feedback.
  6. Sent my counter offer email to the recruiter I had been working with.
  7. Planned my salary negotiation script just like you see on this page.
  8. Had the final discussion with the recruiter where I used the script to negotiate just like you see on this page.
  9. Set my start date.
  10. Started a great new job.