The Art of Negotiation Workshop

It was wonderful having the founder of MissCEO and Stanford University alumna, Nita Kaushal, at the WCC for our “Art of Negotiation” event! This is the second year that the Women at Work program has hosted this type of workshop.

With her experience founding an organization that empowers young women to develop their leadership skills, Nita offered valuable insight into how to approach negotiating salaries. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event:


Don’t be afraid to ask.

Negotiating is all about asking, and asking takes courage. However, Nita emphasized that companies will not take away an offer simply because you asked for more–after all, they put in the effort to decide they wanted to work with you when they extended an offer.

Overthinking can be a large reason why we are afraid to ask, often leading to fears of rejection, overvaluing yourself, or spoiling the relationship. It’s important to understand that we can ease our anxiety about negotiation realizing that the worst thing that can happen is that the company says no, they won’t give you the higher salary.  

Know your worth.

It’s also important to know your own worth, both because it gives you the confidence to ask for more and because it gives your leverage with the company. Don’t give away all your power by eagerly saying “Yes!” to the first offer they make. You have the power to negotiate, no matter how tantalizing their first offer may be! You can determine your market value from a number of factors, including:

  • Current salary
  • Years of experience (INCLUDING academics)
  • Market value of your expertise and knowledge
  • Outstanding offers
  • Salary ranges for similar positions (generic)
  • How invaluable or difficult to replace you are

Utilize your leverage appropriately and professionally! However, remember that negotiating your worth is a continuous process throughout your career. Negotiating your entry salary is just the beginning–you need to be on and ready to ask for what you want all the time. Keep asking and keep putting yourself in a power position for the rest of your career.

Do your homework.

Before going into the salary negotiation, make sure to do your homework. Look up similar job openings online to get a sense of salary ranges. Nita recommends looking at Paysa, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Quora, among other options. Offline, you can reach out to folks in your network including other recruiters and hiring managers, and former interns in your industry.

During the interview try to get a sense of the following, all of which may help influence your decision to join or not to join the company:

  • Type of employer/budget
  • Candidate pool
  • Position requirements (education, experience, etc)
  • Potential for promotion
  • Employer’s need

Avoid presenting numbers first.

When it comes time for the Desired Salary Discussion, avoid being the one to present salary numbers first. If pressured, respond with something similar to the following:

“I’m sure you’ll make a fair offer.”

“I want to ensure this opportunity is the right fit before discussing the numbers, which I’m sure will work out well for the both of us.”

If forced, aim high.

Negotiate with the Right Party

When having the salary discussion, talk about the offer directly with the decision maker. This isn’t always the recruiter. Often, the hiring manager for the team will have more room to negotiate, which can work in your favor!

Practice phrasing.

Lastly, one of the most important parts of negotiating is to phrase things positively, professionally, and in an “I win/you win” manner. For example, if you get an offer- that means they REALLY want you! Don’t accept the offer right away when they present it to you. Instead say:

“Thank you, I’m so pleased to have an offer, especially since I admire [something about the company] so much… I’ll just need some time to consider the details. I’m evaluating some other options and want to make sure I make the best decision. Can I get back to you by [date]?”

This format is great, since it respects the recruiter or hiring manager’s time while not giving away your cards.

Some other examples of phrasing are below:

“I have an equivalent offer from another company, but as we discussed, it seems as though I would make a great fit here. Are you able to do any better to simplify this decision for me?”

“I’m excited for the offer, but company B is offering me $X- I don’t want to get you guys into a bidding war, but I love the team/ environment/ opportunity here and would really prefer to work for you, so if you can match, I’ll be glad to accept.”

Don’t forget to practice phrasing! Ask your friends to help you stage scenarios for your to practice your negotiation skills.

How to Close

Accept the counter if it feels right! Make sure to utilize your leverage appropriately and professionally at all times.

Sometimes, the offer won’t work out. In those cases, Nita recommends thanking the recruiter and hiring manager and closing with the following:

“I appreciate what you were able to do, it seems that Company A is a better career move for me at this point – I apologize, thank you for the opportunity, and maybe, I’ll work with you sometime in the future.”


Keeping all of these recommendations in mind, we hope that you feel more confident about negotiating your way towards the best possible offer. Happy negotiating!




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