33 Insights From Deepak Malhotra’s “How To Negotiate Your Job Offer” Lecture on YouTube

One of the best intro videos I’ve watched on the subject of negotiating. The advice is both strategic and practical, and it’s from a guy who literally wrote the (business school) book on negotiating.

Below are my notes; I’ve taken a lot of liberty in rewriting, but the insights are all Deepak’s.

P.S. I’ve been helping people negotiate their job offers recently, hence the somewhat new topic here on the blog. If this topic interests you (especially if you work in tech), email me.

General negotiating concepts:

1. Do your homework. He who is most prepared usually wins. I think Sun Tzu said something similar about war
2. People think it’s about convincing the other party, but nothing is more important than understanding the other party
3. What’s not negotiable today may be negotiable tomorrow
4. When someone says no in a negotiation, it often means “not right now”; for example if there’s an offer deadline two months from now, and they say they can’t extend it, they may be able to when you ask them 4 or 5 weeks later
6a. Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face”, in response to: “How do you fight someone when you know they’ve prepared specifically to fight you?”
6b. Prepare for the tough questions; sometimes the other party will throw something at you that you don’t want brought up; they might ask “do you have other job offers?” or “did your summer internship turn into a full-time offer?”
7. If something is ambiguous, strange or unexpected, your goal is to investigate by asking good questions
8. Don’t forget: They’re not out to get you…they like you and want to continue liking you…but you’re not the only concern they have
9. Companies don’t negotiate, people negotiate; it depends heavily on their role; negotiating with the boss is different from with HR; the boss may be willing to go to bat for you, but annoying them is more dangerous than annoying HR
10. Don’t be in a mad rush to get the offer; it can backfire (for example, you might get less time to decide)
11. If you think about life happiness, job negotiation success is unimportant; what job you take, what career path, is MUCH more important
12. If they’re repeating themselves, it’s a bad sign
13. In small companies or with close relationships, the range of outcomes is higher – you could either get a lot less or a lot more; everything is more important – them liking you, you being more honest, you learning more about what they can or can’t do
14. It can be easier to ask for something in the future, like working from a different city, but you need to stay at the table to make sure they don’t forget it

Goals you should always try to achieve:

1. They need to like you and want to do it for you
2. They need to believe you deserve it
3. They need to be able to justify your requests within their company
4. They need to believe that they can get you; no one will go to bat for you if they think you’re gonna eventually turn them down
5. Shoot for an 11 out of 10; imagine that they’re going to leave the negotiation and they’re either going to give you what you ask for or not, and they’re also going to rate you 1 to 10 on how much they’re looking forward to working with you; you don’t want a 9, or even a 10, you want an 11
6. Understand where they have room to give – for example, startups may offer lower salaries but provide more equity and flexibility in your role
7. Always tell the truth; don’t get into habit of just saying and doing what you need to achieve your goal
8. Sometimes people undervalue you because they don’t know the value you bring; educate them on what you can do

Tactical advice during negotiations:

1. Don’t ask for something without explaining why – just like you’d never want them to say no without a reason
2. Try to be flexible on the currency you’re paid in – you should care most about the entire offer (location, salary, benefits, stock) and not become too fixated on one component. This includes being flexible on maybe not getting something today, but a tacit agreement to reward you down the line
3. Negotiate multiple interests simultaneously, don’t negotiate piecemeal; signal what is most important, what is less important; avoid “and one more thing…and one more thing…and one more thing…” (Mark Suster says this too)
4. Stay at the table and stay engaged; what they couldn’t share before they gave the offer, they can after they give it to you; what they can’t share before you accept the offer, they can after
5. When they ask a question like “if we give you an offer tomorrow, will you say yes?”, don’t get stuck on what they’re asking; figure out why they’re asking that; what they ask is less important than why
6. Avoid, ignore, downplay ultimatums of any kind; if someone makes an ultimatum, just ignore it – pretend it was never said and move on; if they really mean it, they’ll repeat it over and over again
7. Sometimes you need more time; it’s totally fine to take it, just be nice and considerate about asking
8. Learn what their process tends to be; great question: “What is your usual process here? What does your process tend to be for this situation?”
9. You never want negotiation to end with a no; you want to end with a yes, or a why not
10. “Imagine a world where that is possible, describe that world for me” – gives you a better idea of what’s causing that constraint; or, “can you give me examples of situations where you have done that?”

Ironically as I was writing these notes, Deepak published a similar article. But I didn’t want these notes to go to waste :)

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