The Art of Negotiation Event Recap

Yesterday, we hosted Ahmad Wright, from BEAM, Stanford Career Education. He shared with us valuable techniques in the Art of Negotiation.


Negotiating can feel unnatural at first, but once you learn Ahmad’s key tips, you can do it too!

Express Tips:

  • Do not negotiate until you have an offer.
  • Your salary does not equal your worth.
  • Most companies have a range for each position.
  • Leverage is key in the negotiation process.
  • Negotiation has long-term benefits. Future raises and salaries are often based on past salaries.
  • If a company has no room to negotiate, they should tell you this. The expectation is that negotiation is normal.
  • 2-10% of your salary is the normal range of negotiation.

If you would like to learn more about specific techniques you can use, here is a summary of what Ahmad shared with us.

Before you begin negotiation, it’s important to be thoughtful and prepared for your conversation with your potential employer. This requires a few steps.

  • Reflection – Evaluate all of the factors affecting your future job experience and think about which are most important to you. All of these can be negotiated:
  • Duties – What skills will you build in your new job?
  • Industry – In the future, you might be applying for another job and people might care where you have experience. Company, brand, and name recognition matter in some industries.
  • Job Title – Your job title communicates information to others, and could affect your chances of getting an interview in the future. For example, analyst implies that you work with data and director implies that you manage other employees.
  • Location/commute – Whether or not you mind long commutes, transportation and cost of living have dollar values that you should consider when evaluating salary.
  • Supervisor/work atmosphere
  • Benefits
  • Preparation
  • What is the average salary for this position at this company/in this area? Glassdoor and other websites can be useful to garnering this information.
  • What is the cost of living in this area? Something to keep in mind while negotiating for the salary.
  • Keep three key numbers in mind. Know your dream outcome, what you’d be happy with, and your minimum. Keep these numbers to yourself and use them as reference values throughout the process.

When your potential employer offers you a job, it’s best to say you need to sleep on it, and then you can come back to the table ready to negotiate. This shows that you’re thoughtful and also gives you time to prepare. Oftentimes, employers ask early what your desired salary is. It’s better to respond with “what is the range for this position?” and then say you’re comfortable with the range. Then you can come back and negotiate for the higher end of the range or any other job factors you care about.

In order to keep leverage throughout the negotiation process, be thoughtful with your  responses to employer questions, such as:

  • Why do you want this job? Never say you love it so much you’d do it for free. It’s better to explain why this job is a great fit for you and you for it.
  • Why are you leaving your old job? Don’t say you hate your old job – this makes you seem desperate. Stay positive.
  • Are you interviewing/entertaining other offers? When your employer asks you this, they’re assessing the level of risk if they wait to give you an offer. If you let them know that you are considering others, they might offer to match or top other offers. If you aren’t interviewing elsewhere, you can say that you want to keep it private or are considering other options even if you just submitted a resume. Make sure you’re truthful and consistent.
  • How qualified are you? Uniquely! Emphasize the skills you have in addition to those required on the job description.

Once you get to the negotiation conversation, keep these things in mind.

  • “Let’s work together.” This is not an adversarial relationship. You’re talking with your future employer and want everyone to be happy with the arrangement. You can see it as a problem of balance that you can work together to solve. Show that you’re excited and receptive but you want it to be fair and make sense for you to take the job. Imply that there’s some uncertainty and ask what they can do to make the decision more clear cut for you.
  • What can be negotiated? Salary, signing bonus, benefits (healthcare, vacation, gym, etc), duties, title, etc. Quantify these things for yourself and have a sense of what they’re worth to you.
  • You can build leverage even if you feel like you don’t have any.
  • You’re leaving a familiar work environment and your friends there.  
  • You’re happy in your current job so leaving is a risk.
  • Your assessed worth – you did research and you know your value.
  • Time is on your side. Time is risky to recruiters because you could change your mind or get other offers.

Once your recruiter agrees to what you negotiated, then it’s time to accept the job offer.  

Keep these tips in mind as you approach your next job!

Also, check out our future Women at Work Events coming up in February!



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