You have two main objectives before you begin negotiating:

  1. Understand why you are a valuable candidate for this job
  2. Determine the minimum salary you require to do this job

Why are you a valuable candidate for this job?

This is extremely subjective, but you’ve spent enough time researching and discussing this particular job that you should be able to identify what your most valuable attributes are as they relate to the job and the company. Think about them and then write them down.

Start by thinking about what needs this company hopes to meet by filling this particular job. Identifying their needs is key because you can tailor your own pitch to specifically address those needs. The research you did in the preparation phase of your interview process will come in handy as you prepare to negotiate your new salary.

Here are some needs the company may be trying to satisfy:

  • They are growing and need help
  • They need a specific skillset that they are currently lacking in
  • They need more bandwidth—more hands to help distribute the work
  • They recently lost expertise or had a position vacated that they need filled to continue operations

Once you have identified the company’s needs, you should think about your particular positive attributes that could help address those needs.

Each person and each job is unique, but here are some things you might write down:

  • Applicable experience—maybe you have prior work experience that will make it easy for you to contribute quickly, with little training or ramp-up time.
  • Availability—if you can start immediately and contribute quickly, this may help the company if they’re in a pinch and need someone now.
  • Coachable and trainable—if you pick things up quickly, it may help the company to know that you can contribute soon after you start.

Finally, put these together so you can relate your positive attributes to specific needs the company has. Here are a couple examples of some attribute-for-need combinations:

  • “You’re building a team of salespeople and solution architects to grow into the medical manufacturing vertical, and I have five years of sales experience in that vertical. I can help you grow more efficiently and focus on the right things from the beginning.”
  • “You’re transitioning your application to an Ember front-end, and I’ve been using Ember for client projects for two years. I can save your team a lot of time because I can come in and start writing code right away.”

Notice that a lot of urgency is built into these attribute-for-need combinations. This is because most companies see recruiting and hiring as a big expense. A large portion of that expense is new-hire training and onboarding—it takes a lot of time and money to train new people to become productive. You’re letting them know that you’re valuable because you have this particular skillset and you can contribute right away and minimize the onboarding and training expenses required for you to be productive.

We’ll come back to this information throughout the negotiation and leverage it whenever there’s an opportunity to bolster your case.

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