How to Negotiate Salary and Benefits After 50 A Step-by-Step Script and Tips from a Career Coach
How to Negotiate Salary and Benefits After 50 A Step-by-Step Script and Tips from a Career Coach

One of the most misunderstood and often intimidating parts of getting a job is negotiating your salary and benefits. Just the word “negotiate” is scary to many people. But all it means is to have a discussion that resolves an issue in a way that both parties find acceptable. I like to think of it as asking a few simple questions.

When dining out, you’ve likely asked a question for clarification. For example, “May I please have the salad dressing on the side?” That’s negotiating! It’s true; the answer to the question and your final decision is not as life-changing as getting a new job. But asking the right questions before accepting a role will bring you closer to what you want.

As a career coach for more than 20 years, I’ve seen clients get significantly higher starting salaries and benefits by employing a simple negotiation strategy. Here is a step-by-step script to keep you on track as you apply for a job, receive an offer and start in your new position.

Before or During the Interview

Negotiation works best if you do not reveal what salary level you are looking for or have been making during the process. However, many online applications often require you to list an expected or most recent salary. Leave this field blank if possible. Another tactic is to list $0.00 or $1.00 in that field. Sometimes entering a numeral will satisfy the system so you can move forward in the application and get an interview.

If you’re not applying online, don’t share your salary expectations or history before being offered the job. If human resources or the hiring manager asks, “What are you making now?” Or “What salary are you looking for?” try one of the following options:


  • I’ve been making a competitive salary.
  • I prefer to discuss salary once I have an offer. What is the salary range for this position so neither of us has misconceptions?
  • This position looks like a match for me. I’m sure we can agree on a salary.

The Offer

A proper job offer should include a salary, a job title and a starting date. If you don’t have those, it’s not an offer. Get it in writing. Do not accept the position or negotiate at this point. Instead, take the job off the market.


Thank you. I’m excited about the prospect of working for your organization. I want to think about this opportunity for a few days. In the meantime, may I please have the offer in writing and receive a copy of the employee handbook and details about benefits so I can consider the entire package?

Once you receive an offer in writing and the other materials you requested, arrange a time to discuss it in two to three business days. Until then, do some homework and prepare for negotiation using the following three steps:

1. Review Your Research

You’ve already researched competitive salary levels and should know your walk-away point. Consider your current salary, what you want to make, market averages and the company salary ranges. In mid-life, you’re probably making higher than the average salary for the position. If this role is a promotion or a stretch job for you, this is an excellent time to ask for what you deserve.

2. Build Your Case for Why You Deserve More

  1. If the job has been open for three to six months, you will not only have to perform the job as listed, but you may also have other clean-up duties to accomplish. These could include reestablishing department communication lines, reviewing and reinstating procedures and boosting morale. These projects are all in addition to your day-to-day tasks. They are worth more money.
  1. If this is a new position, you may need to establish new teams and reporting relationships and create training manuals. There may not be anyone to train you or no previous records to review. You’ll be setting up everything from scratch. This is another reason to negotiate for more money.
  1. Based on your expertise and time in the workforce, you bring a breadth of knowledge and experience that is valuable to the company. You know how to work in a team, as well as independently. You have dealt with many challenging work situations, both personality-related and in different business settings. You’re worth more to the company than a first-time job hunter or less experienced person.

3. Prioritize Your Needs

Think about what’s important to you at this time in your life. What level of responsibility do you want? What kind of reporting relationships do you prefer? Do you want remote work or stock options? How financially viable is the company? As you consider all these options, look at what you can trade at this time in your career regarding salary, benefits and peace of mind.

  1. Always negotiate salary and make it your first point. A company will rarely offer the most they would pay for the position.
  1. If you’ve been at your previous company for a long time, you probably don’t want to lose the higher number of vacation weeks or days off you’ve enjoyed. Some companies start new hires with two weeks (or equivalent paid time off, including sick days). If having paid time off is important, make it a point on your negotiating list.
  1. What are the core work hours? Do you prefer remote work? Is there a drastic increase in commuting or parking costs? How about moving expenses or a signing bonus? Consider other perks besides your salary that would dramatically improve your work experience.

The Negotiation

Prepare a script for the day of your meeting, opening with a few things you like about the offer and the company and practice it – to the mirror, a friend or your pet. Few people practice their salary and benefits negotiating skills, so the more comfortable and prepared you are when making a case to your future employer, the more likely you’ll get more of the benefits you want.


Thank you for offering me the position. The job title aligns with what I was thinking. I’m excited to join your team and to be part of the new initiatives you outlined today. I’m confident we’ll have a positive outcome.

I have a couple of questions.

I appreciate your offer of $125,000. Given my breadth of knowledge in the industry, the time this job has been open and the months of backlogged invoices my team will need to process, I was thinking of $135,000. How close can you come to that?

Pause and let the hiring manager answer.

Depending on their response, you can ask more questions. You still have room to negotiate if they say they are only authorized to go to $130,000.


Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Would you consider a one-time $5,000 signing bonus to bridge the gap? That way, you save the company money since you’re not adding to my base salary.

Pause and let them answer.

Whether or not the hiring manager agrees to the $5,000 signing bonus, thank them for considering it. They might have to ask human resources or their boss for approval.


Thank you so much. I can wait for an answer.

Then bring up the next item on your list, such as weeks of vacation.


With my experience and years in the workforce, I’m used to four weeks of paid time off annually. Would I be able to continue my current vacation benefit here?

Pause and let them answer.

The hiring manager may need to get confirmation from their boss or human resources.


Wonderful! Thank you.

Go to your next item and track what you discuss by taking notes. Read the responses and body language of the hiring manager as this process continues. Negotiate the things that matter the most to you and know when to stop. But if your potential employer easily agrees to what you’re asking, continue with your list.


I appreciate your going to bat for me. When can I expect a new offer letter that includes the changes we discussed?

If your courage wavers, please understand this: your potential employer wants you. They have invested time in selecting you and you have convinced them you’re the best choice over other applicants. There might not even be a second choice that comes close to your qualifications. This gives you power. Your potential employer doesn’t want to go back to square one and restart the hiring process again.

I’ve seen clients receive a callback with an increased salary offer during the initial two to three business days while preparing for the negotiation session. You should also realize that since most people don’t negotiate, many managers consider doing so a positive. It shows you have the skill and can positively deal with your staff, co-workers or outside vendors.

You’ve been in the workforce for three decades or more. Negotiating doesn’t have to be intimidating if you prepare with research, practice your script and ask simple questions. If you don’t ask, you won’t get anything more than what an employer initially offers.

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Author Dori Gillam

Dori Gillam

Guest writer Dori Gillam has been a career coach for over twenty years. As a writer and speaker, she focuses on ageism, creative aging, resilience and finding soul-filling work. She has worked for Right Management and her clients have included Nike, Chase Bank and Weyerhaeuser. She is a frequent contributor to 3rd Act Magazine. 

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