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When You Negotiate Make Sure You Complete These 8 Items

When you negotiate, you want to make sure you have completed certain items. Here is a quick list of negotiation must-haves and things you want to have completed before you negotiate. You want to make sure you have taken these steps to ensure a smooth negotiation. Have more items to add? Drop it in the comments below. 

  1. Research
  2. Ask Coworkers
  3. Assess Your Value
  4. Have Examples
  5. Define What You Want
  6. Practice
  7. Identify Counteroffers
  8. Ask with Calm and Conviction
when you negotiate, make sure you have

When you negotiate…

1. Make Sure You Research

Research is fundamental. You want to make sure you have as much research as possible. What kind of research? For starters, market research. 

Market Research 

Do market research. When you negotiate, market research is fundamental. Begin by checking out online salary estimation tools and salary websites. Put in your search bar: “top salary websites” and use those to help inform your search. *Remember that this information may not be regional (some allow for that distinction) and may not assess experience, education, size of company, and other factors that cannot be accounted for in online tools and platforms. Make sure your market research is based on the city or region where the job is located. You can compare using national market research too. This will give you a scope of potential salary/wage requests, but ultimately rely on the region and city research as your true baseline online salary search baseline. 

Look at market research factors such as experience, average, location, company, etc. You want to match your experience relative to what the market research tells you (and then add more $$ on top of that based on the extra value you bring). The value of quality research cannot be underestimated in a negotiation. 

Research can be one of your biggest assets in a negotiation (besides your unique value and skills of course). Information asymmetry, or when the boss has more information than the employee regarding salary, benefits, etc., is part of the past. Now both parties can have a great quantity of information with a little bit of digging and research. We are now in the age of information parity and this gives you a huge advantage (Pink, 2021). You have access to just as much information as the other party, for the most part. You just need to do your research. 

2. Make Sure You Ask Coworkers

When you negotiate, part of your research includes asking your coworkers. I know it’s hard. It can feel tricky and awkward. But you can do it. Asking your coworkers what they make can be one of the best research you do. It is company and position specific, you likely know their experience and how many years they have worked for the company. You can even ask if they negotiated. 

I didn't know I was underpaid until I asked my coworkers

How Do I Ask My Coworkers How Much They Make? 

How do you ask your coworkers? There are a few ways, but you know your situation best. Go with what feels right (even if it feels hard – because it will!). You can mention that you have your review coming up and you are wondering if $X amount is fair. “My annual review is coming up, do you think $X (or Y%) is fair to ask for?” 

Maybe you want to share your number first. Say, “I am making $X, do you think that’s a fair number for my position?” Then assess their reaction. Do they show sympathy for how little you are paid or are they flabbergasted by how much they are underpaid? Their reaction can say a lot. 

Maybe you want to mention you are going to be negotiating after you have completed a big project and you are wondering if $X amount is sufficient or an increase of Y% is acceptable for your position and skills. You can even try, “If you don’t mind me asking, how much do you make?” 

how do I ask my coworkers how much they make?

Offer Your Number First

Offer your pay up first if you feel like that will make it easier . Say, “I am making $X. I am wondering if this is fair for my position and experience. If you don’t mind me asking, how much do you make?” They may be surprised, but workplace conversations on salary and pay help those underpaid the most. It may feel awkward and tricky, but it will give you amazing, accurate salary information that an online salary tool just cannot do. 

Are you new at the workplace? Some experts have recommended cold messaging people on LinkedIn. You can try messaging people who are in your position. Ask those in a higher position in the same industry if a certain range is appropriate for your skills and experience. 

talk about money

You may get crickets back, or you may be completely surprised by their response. People like helping people. This can be especially true if they have been in a position of being underpaid. Be honest, sincere and kind. “Hi X [name], I noticed your profile and amazing experience. I am so impressed by how you did Z [achievement]. I am applying for a position in Y [industry, company, etc.]. Can I get your perspective on the salary range for this position? The amount I am looking to ask for is $X-Y. I have X amount of experience. Do you think this is appropriate? Thank you so much in advance for your time. I really appreciate you helping me find a fair price in this changing market. Sincerely, Z”

Asking is key. Make sure you ask around. This research can be a game changer for your negotiation. When you negotiate, these completed items will be a game changer for your conversation.

3. Make Sure You Assess Your Value

How do you provide value? What are your unique skills and the things you excel at? These can be things you excel at naturally or things you have worked hard to be good at. The value you provide will inform the rationale for your ask. Take what you do every day into consideration. Look at who you work with and the service you provide. 

Ask yourself: What unique skills do I have? What value do I add? What do I do better than anyone else at work? Which skills do I possess that exceed industry norms? What is my expertise? Do others come to me for certain items because I do it best? What am I passionate about or really like doing at work? 

negotiation research skill value asking

Ask yourself: What unique skills do I have? What value do I add? What do I do better than anyone else at work? Which skills do I possess that exceed industry norms? What is my expertise? Do others come to me for certain items because I do it best? What am I passionate about or really like doing at work? 

Remember: You are answering the question from your employer, “What’s in it for me?” You must identify what is in it for them. 

Check out the post 3 Easy Steps to Promote Yourself in a Negotiation to highlight the unique value you add.

4. Make Sure You Have Examples

You need examples of how you add value. The goal is to illustrate all the value your unique skills bring. You have already identified your skills in the last step. Specific examples bring your unique skills to life. 

Ask yourself: How do I utilize my unique skills? How are my unique skills illuminated in a typical day? In what way do my skills shine in a typical week? How do I support others with my skill sets? How do my/can my unique skills support the organization? What successes have my skills brought? What successes can they continue to bring in the future? Highlight the impacts your unique skills bring. 

After you have identified the value you add and have an outline of examples of your unique skills, ensure that you are only naming a few reasons for why you deserve the raise. Creating an exhaustive list may appear as a desperate attempt, whereas a few succinct points appear more credible (Pink, 2020). Fewer options are more persuasive (Pink, 2020). 

When you negotiate, talk about your accomplishments but also talk about your potential. Potential can be more persuasive than experience, says Daniel Pink, persuasion expert (Pink, 2020). Potential creates uncertainty and this means you can fill this uncertainty with positives (and potentially more money).

I deserve it

The post 3 Tips: Find the Numbers to Emphasize Your Contributions will help explain how to quantify the value you add. 

5. Make Sure You Define What You Want

Do you know what you want? If you don’t know what you want, there is no way anyone else will know that either. You likely don’t want to take just any number they offer, you want to have an accurate assessment of the market so you can ask for your worth and negotiate for more.

Therefore, it’s vital to make sure you have defined what you want. Make it an exact dollar amount if you are asking for more money. Make it a specific work from home proposal if that’s what you want. Whatever the ask is, make sure it is clearly defined. 

When you negotiate, make sure you know what you want. Thorough research will help to inform and define what you will ask and negotiate for. 

Know What You Want

Is it more money? Can it be calculated in monetary form? Is it fewer hours in the day? More vacation? Remote work? Do you have an Option B and Option C if the first ask doesn’t work out? Do you have nonnegotiables? These all help in defining what you want and sets boundaries for your negotiation. 

Remember, there is so much to negotiate. Look beyond salary at non salary compensation. There are different examples for different types of negotiations, but there are other items that can be negotiated in almost every negotiation. 

Non salary items to negotiate: 

  • 401k match
  • Company equity
  • Benefits
  • Pension
  • Vacation/sick days
  • Maternity/paternity leave
  • Bonus
  • Life insurance
  • PD stipend
  • Education stipend
  • Flexible schedule
  • Technology expenses
  • Job security
so much to negotiate
more to negotiate
  • Gym membership 
  • Childcare
  • Family leave
  • Commuting expenses
  • Work from home
  • Severance pay
  • Title change
  • Position change
  • Work week length
  • Work day length
  • Merit bonus
  • Signing bonus
  • Start date

What else have you negotiated? Add it in the comments below. 

Check out the post 3 Numbers You Need to Have Ready When Negotiating to help find the numbers you need to organize your ask. Walk into a negotiation feeling confident because you have your 3 numbers ready. These 3 numbers are the boundaries you stick to and guide your negotiation.

Three numbers you need in your negotiation: 

  • 1. Asking price 
  • 2. Desired price 
  • 3. Walk away price
3 numbers

6. Make Sure You Practice

Have you practiced? Have you really? Not just laid out the points in a notebook, but actually said the words you want to say out loud

Practicing your ask is so important. Don’t skip this step. Practice how you will begin. Highlight the examples that showcase your value. Be ready for multiple situations. Are you ready if they ask what you want first? Are you planning for them to share their offer initially? What if they don’t? Do you know how you will pivot? Ask yourself these questions to prepare. Practice in the mirror, to your cat, to a friend. Each time you practice, it will make the actual ask less stressful and you will feel more confident.   

negotiation is a skill practice

7. Make Sure You Identify Counteroffers

Practicing is part 1. Practicing your counteroffer is part 2. Make sure you prep yourself to receive an unpleasant response. You will not always get what you want right away. You may have to give wait time.

Silence Is Your Friend

Remember that silence is your friend in a negotiation, especially after the other party expresses hesitation or a response you may not prefer. Allowing for silence and taking time to pause can be advantageous in a negotiation. Silence speaks. 

Remember that silence and long pauses are your friend in negotiations. Initiate them. Don’t feel compelled to respond immediately after every stop in the conversation. If your negotiation collaborator tells you there’s no room in the budget, pause. Don’t respond. It will let them know you are serious about your request. It may also turn the tables and make them feel a little uncomfortable. Refrain from immediately filling the silence. Use this time to think about your response, your next move, and to think about how to proceed to get what you really want. 

“If you present a well-researched counter-offer, you’re likely to get it.” – Bach

Don’t give in too early, but also be prepared. Do your research. Give a counteroffer rooted in research and your excellence that is impossible to dispute. Stand firm. Ask for your worth. 


8. Make Sure You Ask with Calm and Conviction

Negotiations can be nerve racking. That’s okay. Expect it. And be prepared. Equip yourself with calming and anxiety-reducing strategies. Read your favorite quote, do a meditation, listen to your pump-up song, do a power pose, whatever you do to get in the right mindset and calm yourself, do it!

Rely on all the hard work that brought you to this moment. Your experience, skills and work ethic no doubt had a lot to do with it. Be confident in your skills and in yourself. Be the badass you know that you are. You have researched the going rate, you’ve asked coworkers or others in the position, you have examples of your excellence, you’ve practiced potential counteroffers, you’ve got this. 

expect to receive your worth

Ask with calm and conviction, you’ve already done the heavy lifting. Now you are just completing the puzzle and asking for your worth. 

Be Ready to Walk Away

If there were a ninth tip, it would be to know when you will walk away. I know, easier said than done. It takes work to have another job lined up, have the funds to support yourself, etc. I hear you. Work on as much as you can. Some followers have commented that just mentioning they are “considering a new opportunity” has helped to move the needle in a negotiation. Only you know your situation and what will work best for you. 

didn't get paid my worth until I was ready to leave

*This is a subjective situation and it’s necessary to read the room, the financial situation of the company, as well as your boss. Could they stand to lose you? If yes, these tips may not work. If not, that’s a good sign in your favor. Only you know your unique situation, do what is best for you! You’ve got this.  

Time to Negotiate!

Now that you have completed these items, you are ready to negotiate. You have the quick list of negotiation must-haves and you have worked hard to be prepared for your negotiation. There will still be unknowns, but you are now more prepared. You have taken steps to ensure a smoother negotiation.

Now, go negotiate for your worth!

negotiation can feel risky


Pink, Daniel (2020). Daniel Pink Teaches Sales and Persuasion. MasterClass.

*Article: “Don’t ask for a raise during your annual review and other negotiating tips for women” (2016), The Washington Post
Interviewee: Aubrey Bach, senior manager of higher education
Author: Alex Laughlin 

Want More on Negotiation?

Want more negotiation tips? Check out these posts to help you in your next negotiation:

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Disclaimer: While the contents of this post and blog come from research and personal experience, each experience, situation and/or person has their own unique circumstances. This is not negotiation, financial or any other form of legitimate or official advice from an expert. Each individual should do their own independent, comprehensive research. Negotiation, career and all other decisions are the sole responsibility of each individual or party. Details found on the blog and in individual posts are opinions and should be treated as such for entertainment purposes only. Read further disclaimer information in the footer and on the Disclaimer page. 

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when you negotiate make sure you complete these 8 items