If you offered me $X, I could accept today

One of the most important things you can do BEFORE a negotiation is decide what compensation you would be happy with. Not what you could survive with, but a reasonable expectation that you would also genuinely feel good about.

How does this help?

Suppose you are presented with an offer of $80k, and you had already done your research and self reflection, and decided that $90k was your goal.

You respond with: “Thank you for this offer. I am so excited for the opportunity to work at Dream Co. I would like to accept, but I’m looking at roles around $90k”


You and the recruiter have a back and forth — the exploratory phase of a negotiation — and suppose you get to a point where the recruiter explains that they can’t go higher than $85k.

You’ve reached the converging phase of the negotiation: there’s no point going in circles, you now want to make an incremental and intentional step forward. Since you’re not overjoyed about the terms, you don’t want to immediately decide “yes” or “no”.


Instead, try this: “I am thrilled to receive this opportunity to work at Dream Co. At $85k it’s a tough decision for me to make right now and I will need to think about it. What I can tell you, is that if you offered me $90k I could accept right now.”

This gives the recruiter a clear path to help you accept this offer: maybe they admit then and there that that works; maybe they say they will take this the VP of Engineering to see if anything can be done; maybe they increase the signing bonus by $5k. (Bonus tip: you can ask for both of these things directly as part of exploring options with the recruiter)

Telling someone what you can do is also helpful because it is not a “no.” It gives you room to accept $85k later if nothing can be done. “Thank you for the time to think about this offer. While $85k wasn’t what I was hoping for, I’m really excited about Dream Co and working with such a great team of people, and am trilled to accept!!”


Don’t forget that you’re not playing a game just to play a game. Nor are you expecting to always get what you want. You are making an intentional decision about where to work and on what terms.

Knowing your terms can help you navigate an otherwise stressful conversation with intention, authenticity and confidence.

How well has this worked for your? Let us know!

Don’t be a stranger,