Job Search Series – Negotiating after the Job Offer – Part 4 – Practice Makes Perfect

“When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing,
and when you meet him he will win.”
~ Ed Macauley, Hall of Fame Basketball Player

Employers have had a lot of practice in the craft of salary negotiation. So when you approach job-offer negotiations, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, keep in mind the time-honored phrase, “practice makes perfect.” Just as you practiced your interview answers, questions, strategies and techniques, practicing your negotiation scenarios will help you to perfect your performance and showcase your presence and poise at the negotiation table. In turn, your negotiation style will provide your potential employer with a preview of your business savvy.

Practicing on your own will help you to prepare to a point, but practicing with others will provide valuable feedback and critique. Think of this as preparing a presentation with your study group, rehearsing a scene for a play or getting ready for an audition. You’re on your way to developing your negotiation prowess, a skill that you’ll be able to use throughout your career.

Below are two fictional sample salary-negotiation scripts that can be modified and customized to your particular situation, and give you a start on creating your own scripts to practice. Remember what you’ve learned from previous entries about attitude during negotiations; smiling, eye contact and a friendly and warm tone go a long way in connecting with your negotiating partner.

At the end of the scripts are links to sites that provide additional scripts and further negotiation insight.

Grad Student, Entry Level, Top Business Marketing & Research Firm

New Grad: Kate, I’m extremely pleased to receive this offer, and I can’t wait to start the job. I’ve already stated several times that this is my dream job. So, I’ve reviewed the compensation and benefits package and everything looks good. I especially like the company’s matching 401K contribution level that begins immediately. And, I find the other benefits to be well in line with those of like companies. However, I would like to discuss the starting salary, which is less than I expected.

Employer: This is the standard starting salary for this position, Grant. What were you expecting?

New Grad: While I realize your offer is within the market range for this type of position, it’s at the low end. As my three internships in this field have demonstrated, I have consistently delivered an above-average performance. Therefore, I believe an above-average starting salary would be in line with my track record, as well as my anticipated performance in this position. Is there any flexibility?

Employer: How “above-average” were you thinking?

New Grad: The salary I’ve been offered, $57,000, is at the low end. I get that I lack experience and this is an entry level position, but as we’ve discussed I’m not completely without experience. I believe that $71,500 would be a fair starting salary. That’s about halfway between the low end and middle of the range. (Stop talking, and don’t fill in any silence. Wait for a response even if it takes a minute or two.)

Employer: That’s quite a hike. I’m not sure we can do that. Let me look into it. But tell me, how flexible are you willing to be. Would you accept less than a $14,500 increase?

New Grad: I’m eager to start the job. This is a great company and a great opportunity. But, I don’t want to feel as though I’m starting at a lower salary than I’m worth. And, I think I’m worth more than $57,000. So, I’m certainly open to talking if you are.

Employer: Fair enough, Grant. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

New Grad: Thanks, Kate. I appreciate that.

Executive Assistant to Senior Executive Vice President, Fortune 500 Company

EA: Robert, I’m quite delighted to receive this offer. I feel I’m a perfect fit for the position, and I’m glad you agree. As I mentioned in the interview, there are so many elements of this job that I am quite familiar with and eager to tackle.

Employer: We’re looking forward to your joining us, Maureen.

EA: I’ve looked over the benefits and compensation package and it appears to be comprehensive and generous. But, I wonder if we might chat about salary for a minute.

Employer: Sure. What’s your question?

EA: The salary I’ve been offered is at the median range for this position in this area. I feel that with my 15 years experience as an EA in this industry, my excellent track record and the added value I’m expected to bring to this position that I’m worth a bit more than $68,000.

Employer: I agree, and that’s why I’ve scheduled a salary review in three months, and if all is going well I’ll be glad to consider an increase at that time.

EA: I see. Well, as much as I’m looking forward to working for you — and believe me I am — I would prefer a stronger vote of confidence going into the job rather than having to wait three months for an increase. And, I’m not sure what kind of increase I could expect at that time.

Employer: What do you have in mind as a fair increase?

EA: I think a fair starting salary for me would be $75,000.

Employer: Hmmmm…..Maureen, remind me what your last salary was?

EA: It was $65,000. However, we’re talking about this position. In my last job I worked for an established SEVP at a smaller company. We’ve already determined that this position calls for more responsibility, and as a newly appointed SEVP you’re going to rely more heavily than usual on my experience and skills, making my role valuable to you and the organization. I need to be assured that all of that has been recognized so I can concentrate fully on my new responsibilities.

Employer: I understand that, and that’s why we’re offering you $3,000 more than your previous position.

EA: Yes, but I believe that my track record combined with what I am expected to bring to the table is worth $75,000. We’re talking about a difference of $7,000.

Employer: I don’t think I can get an approval on that much of an increase. But, how about if we split the difference at $3,500? I’ll increase your starting salary by $1,750 and another $1,750 in three months.

EA: I appreciate your working with me on this. If you’re willing to split the difference, that would be great. It would be greater if you would increase my starting salary right now by $3,500 rather than making me wait three months for the other half.

Employer: You drive a hard bargain!

EA: Only when negotiating my salary and ensuring that all your reporting deadlines are met!

Employer: Okay! You’ve made a good point. Let me see what I can do, Maureen. I want you to be happy and if this is what it takes, I’ll give it a shot.

EA: Thank you, Robert! I know I’m going to love working for you.

Additional Resources for Information and Practice:

Ask for Way Too Much and Close Your Wage Gap — the Script, Forbes

5 Phrases That Will Get You a Higher Salary, U.S. News & World Report-Money

Good luck with your practice sessions and with your negotiations!

Until next time,


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