Most people consider a job offer a win. It’s like taking a big hand in poker, making it to the next round of the playoffs, or securing a date with that special someone. When it happens to you, take a moment to celebrate. Then turn your focus on the next hand, the next round of playoffs, the date itself, or how you manage the negotiation to secure win-win terms and make people feel even better about working with you. A job offer is not the end point. It’s just one more step in the onboarding process. Treat it as such.

In her book, Speak and Get Results, Sandy Linver laid out a communication framework that can be adapted to work for negotiating a job offer.

  1. Choose your destination. The impact you want to make on your audience.

Following an initial job offer, you want agreement to mutually acceptable terms. There are steps along the way including helping them understand your position, believe it makes sense, and feel good about it.

  1. Be explicit about unstated/hidden Xs. How you want your audience to think and feel about you.

Note how they feel about you is different from how they feel about themselves, which the Red Cross’s Charley Shimanski and others helped us understand is the heart of communication.

Negotiating is a key step in selling. In this case, the product you’re selling is you. So, the way you negotiate is part of what they’re buying. Negotiate in a way that makes them more eager to work with you, not less.

  1. Assess their current reality. Where your audience is now.

Step back and reconsider your audience’s objectives, the obstacles in the way of their agreeing to your terms, and their hidden influencers. For years, anyone looking for a senior level job with J.D. Power’s Dave Power got to enjoy a dinner with his wife – his most important influencer.

  1. Reevaluate the destination in light of your assumptions about your audience.

Now rethink your objectives vis a vis their rational and emotional positions on different factors. The graphic below demonstrates a workable overlap between two parties’ minimum and maximum positions. Note this is not always the case.

  1. Bridge the gap with your organizing concept/message and main points

Think through what your audience needs to be aware of, understand (rationally,) believe, and feel (emotionally) to move from their current reality towards your destination.

In line with the only three interview questions, negotiate in a way that reinforces your motivation for this job, the strengths they need, and how you’ll fit with their culture.

Your organizing concept/message almost always has to be around how much you’re looking forward to joining them on their quest.

Then frame your deal points as message points that benefit them. Executive job offers have short, mid, and long-term components.

  • Frame your proposals around duties, reporting lines and long-term compensation like equity and long-term incentives as a way to align long-term objectives.
  • Frame mid-term compensation like annual bonuses as way to align mid-term priorities.
  • Frame short-term things like salary, benefits, signing bonuses, relocation, severance, etc. as hygiene factors, less important on their own, but useful to allow you to focus on the mid and long-term.
  1. Prepare your opening.

Lead with an overview summary reinforcing your enthusiasm about joining them on their quest and positioning what you’re asking for in that light. Note the importance of making all your asks at once. People hate it when others come back with “one more thing” after an agreement is in place.



  1. Prepare your closing. Cement your message, knowing that people remember what they see first and last more than what comes in the middle.

Whether you’re communicating in writing or verbally, end by reinforcing how much you’re looking forward to joining them on their quest.

  1. Deliver the communication. Rationally. Inspirationally.

Pay attention to how you’re making them feel at every point along the way. Discuss and debate points of difference in the way that fits with their culture, seeking to understand, adjust, and agree as opposed to winning your points at any cost. Because, in this case, no deal is any good unless they end up wanting the dealer – you.