While experts often give general advice about best practices for negotiations, proven word-for-word scripts are hard to find.
29 Dec, 2017FORBES.COM
Salary negotiations used to scare me. Like many young women, I shrunk away from asking for more money, afraid that employers would find me entitled or ungrateful.
Luckily, mentors encouraged me negotiate the heck out of my first job offer. And after I convinced my employer to raise my starting salary by $5,000, I was addicted.
While experts often give general advice about best practices for negotiations, proven word-for-word scripts are hard to find. That’s why I wanted to share with you the exact sentences I used to earn an extra $25,000 over the first four years of my career.
Context: Below is the email reply I sent my manager 24 hours after receiving my first job offer. To justify my ask, I emphasized my relevant past experience and shared external market research showing higher salaries for similar roles.
Dear Jane Smith,
Thank you so much! I'm truly excited about the offer and the opportunity to work with the [company] team.
When I looked at my value in the marketplace, I was really hoping for a salary in the [median] - [max] range. My research on other [industry/role] salaries in [city] shows that the median salary is [$x] per year. On average, hires with my background receive just over [higher salary number] annually. I'm attaching screenshots of my research here.
Given my previous work experience and track record delivering results at [previous employer], and given my background in [relevant field], I hope you can reconsider my compensation in context of this information.
Once again, I'm thrilled at the opportunity to work with you, and I look forward to diving in.
Results: This single email raised my base salary by 5% and resulted in an extra signing bonus, too. The total monetary difference was about $5,000 over a year. Was it worth the couple of hours of research, nerves, and email craftsmanship? Absolutely.
2. Negotiating My Second Full-Time Job Offer Salary, By Email & Phone:
Context: After notifying me of my offer on a phone call, my future employer sent me an official offer letter and salary number the next day via email. I had expressed a lot of excitement over the phone, so it felt appropriate to use an even-handed tone in the email correspondence that kicked off our negotiation. This time around, I had gained even more industry experience, which I positioned as a value-add to the company. I also used a more formal tone, given that I was negotiating with a more buttoned-up corporate firm.
Dear Jane Smith,
I'm very excited about this opportunity! Thank you for your fast response time. Upon reading the offer letter, I would like to talk about compensation with you in more detail. I can plan to outline my questions in an email for you, and I'm happy to discuss on the phone whenever is convenient.
This opportunity is attractive -- I'm excited to contribute to your work, and to work alongside such a strong team. However, I was expecting a more competitive base salary and am concerned about reconciling the value I know I'll bring to the company with the number in this initial offer.
I really hope we can tweak the offer to find an agreement that works for all of us. I'll follow up again shortly.
Results: I refrained from mentioning any numbers here. Shortly after sending the email, my future manager called and offered me a 20% salary bump. That anchored our negotiation. After a couple more conversations, I was offered an additional 10% signing bonus, at which point I accepted. Overall, this added an additional five figures to my annual income.
3. Raising My Consulting Rates, By Email:
Context: A few years later, and I was building out my independent strategy consulting practice. I’d been working with a client on retainer for six months, and it was time to renew our contract. It was unclear whether this client would continue to need my services; much of it depended on the direction of his company and its needs. We already had a working relationship, so I kept the tone very casual.
Hi [first name],
Our contract ends on [date], and I wanted to ask your thoughts about renewal. I'd be delighted to continue working with you and helping to make [your goal] a reality.
My availability through the end of the year is still [x] hours per month. In May, I raised my rates to [$y] per hour, with a discounted rate for repeat clients at [$z] per hour. Keeping the rest of our contract the same, that would get us to a [$total] monthly retainer.
As you know, I'm flexible and happy to discuss. Let me know what you're thinking.
Results: My client accepted the new terms without question, and we ended up renewing our contract for another four months. By framing the rate increase as a decision I had already made (in May, two months before our renewal), I shut the door to the possibility that I’d reconsider. And by offering this repeat client a discount, I acknowledged his loyalty and the value of our ongoing business relationship.
This article was first published by Stephanie Newman on Forbes