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How To Counter a Salary Offer (Sample Emails)

By Rebecca Lake · October 13, 2022 · 9 minute read

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How To Counter a Salary Offer (Sample Emails)

Salary negotiations can be one of the most stressful parts of the hiring process. You don’t want to offend your new employer but you don’t want to get shortchanged either. Making an appropriate counteroffer requires a little skill and finesse to communicate your salary needs in a professional way.

That’s where knowing how to write a salary counter offer email comes in. A good counter offer email can help you build a stronger case for why you deserve a higher salary.

What Is a Counteroffer?

A counteroffer is your response to the hiring company’s original salary offer. When you make a counteroffer, you’re asking the company to reconsider their initial offer and bump the number. For example, if a company offers you a starting salary of $80,000, you might counter that with $85,000 or $90,000.

Making a counteroffer is not uncommon, and some companies expect new hires to do a little bargaining for higher pay. It’s something you might be encouraged to do if you’re reading through first job tips to prepare for your job search. There’s no guarantee that a counteroffer will be accepted, but it’s still worth making one if you believe that you can get a better deal.

Writing a counter offer email can be a great way to communicate what you’re hoping to get. If you’re getting hired at your first job, you might not know how to write a counter offer salary email. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as you might think.

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When To Counter a Salary Offer

There are different reasons that a job candidate might decide to make a salary counter offer. Here are some of the most common scenarios when a counteroffer can be appropriate:

•   The company is offering a salary that’s below average for the industry.

•   You believe that your skills and/or experience are sufficient to command a higher salary.

•   The salary isn’t enough to meet your financial needs.

•   You’ve received a higher offer from a competing company.

If you’re negotiating salary for your first job, it’s important to find out what is competitive pay for this type of job and for someone with your experience?

Entry level salaries are naturally lower than salaries for people with more experience or education. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should automatically accept a lower salary for an entry level position if similar companies are paying more.

Researching pay ranges for the type of job you’re accepting can help you determine the high and low figures for a salary negotiation. It may also be helpful to know what trades make the most money and how much people earn at different levels within that trade or sector.

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Keys To Asking for More Salary

There’s some groundwork that goes into negotiating higher pay, either as a new hire or an employee seeking a raise. Here are some of the most important things to consider when asking for more pay:

•   Research average salaries across your industry for employees with skills or experience equivalent to yours

•   Know what you bring to the table, and be prepared to back that up with examples

•   Be confident in your approach

•   Be realistic and understand what the company can reasonably afford to offer you

Making your request for a salary increase in writing is also important, as it gives you an opportunity to outline in detail your reasoning for a pay boost. That’s where knowing how to write counter offer salary email messages comes in handy.

Should You Negotiate Your Job Offer (Even If It’s Already Pretty Good?)

Negotiating salary or other benefits isn’t something you necessarily have to do. And it’s possible that you might feel a little awkward asking your new employer for more money right off the bat. But it may still be worth negotiating certain aspects of your pay or benefits if you think there’s some wiggle room.

For example, you might be willing to accept a lower offer in exchange for stock if you think the company’s value is only going to rise in the future. One of the advantages of buying company stock through your employer is that you may be able to get it at a discounted price.

Tuition repayment assistance is something else that may be worth negotiating if you’re starting your career with student loans in tow. Employers are increasingly offering help with student loan debt and tuition to attract and retain talented employees. That type of benefit may be well worth negotiating if your company is open to the idea.

A signing bonus can also help balance out a lower salary. If the bonus is particularly lucrative, that might be a tempting reason to skip salary negotiations. Of course, you’ll want to brush up on the basics of how to ask for a signing bonus before you start negotiating.

Should You Negotiate Your Salary Through Email or a Phone Call?

If you’re interested in attempting to wrangle a higher salary from your employer, choose your approach carefully. Asking for a salary increase over the phone has its pros and cons. Your employer might feel like they’ve been put on the spot. Or you might be so nervous that you stumble over your words and don’t communicate your request clearly.

Putting your request in writing can take the pressure off both sides. It may be easier for you to explain why you feel you deserve a higher salary in writing and you can take your time with writing your email. You can expand on how you believe you’ll be able to help the company and why making a bigger investment in your salary is justified. You can also use your email to compare the salary offer to industry averages in order to underscore your case.

An email also gives your employer a chance to review your arguments and make a decision without feeling rushed. And should they decide to counter your counteroffer, they may prefer sending it back to you in email format so there’s a paper trail of all salary discussions.

Steps To Making a Salary Counteroffer

Countering an employer’s salary offer can be nerve-racking, so it’s wise to have a plan or strategy going in. We’ve put together a helpful checklist for what to do when entering salary negotiations.

Research Comparable Salaries

As mentioned, it’s important to know what the average pay is for the industry and type of job you’re accepting. You don’t want to make a counteroffer that’s too far outside the norm of what employees with your same skill set and level of experience are making, as that can cause the employer to balk.

Wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to start your research. You can also check salaries on sites like Payscale.com or Salary.com to see what kind of entry-level pay competitive companies are offering.

Review the Benefits Package

Before negotiating salary, it’s helpful to look at everything an employer is offering. That might include things like subsidized health insurance, a solid retirement plan, paid time off, stock options, tuition assistance, or a remote work option. Weighing the value of those benefits against salary can help you decide if it’s worth negotiating your pay.

If you’re offered great benefits but a lower salary, getting a second job can help bridge the gap. You may already have experience with making money on the side if you’ve ever held any jobs that pay for college, like babysitting, dog-walking, or doing gig work.

Know Your Value

A little self-awareness goes a long way. When you’re applying for your first job, you may not have a lot of professional experience under your belt yet. Instead, you can focus more on your college accomplishments, skills, personality traits, and other qualities that make you an attractive candidate for the job.

Take Time To Craft Your Counteroffer

The next step is the most important, because you need to make sure you’re wording your counteroffer salary email carefully to convey what you want in a respectful way. You’ll want to start your email with a polite introduction and state your request briefly at the beginning. Then go into more detail explaining why you believe your counteroffer is appropriate, and close the letter politely. It’s also important to verify to whom you should send the email to ensure it gets to the right place.

Negotiate With Your Employer

Once your employer receives your salary counteroffer email, they’ll review it and then respond. Their immediate response may be no, at which point you’ll have to decide if you want to continue attempting to negotiate. If they’re willing to negotiate, you can then begin salary discussions to see if you can reach an agreement that suits you both. Being willing to compromise here is important, as coming on too strongly could cause the employer to rescind your offer and hire someone else.

Make Your Final Decisions

Once you’ve completed salary negotiations, your employer may give you a little more time to make up your mind. At this point, you’ll have to decide whether to accept their final salary offer or move on to another job. (By the way, hold onto the offer email — it can serve as proof of income for student loans and apartment applications.)

You may want to review your finances before deciding if the salary is acceptable. Using a free budget app can help you get a better sense of what kind of income you need to cover your spending.

If you decide to decline, you’ll want to do so politely. Burning bridges is a bad idea, in case you later apply for a position with the same company.

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Salary Counteroffer Email (Sample Templates)

If you’ve never attempted to write a counteroffer before, you may not know what your letter should include. To make things easier, here are guides for how to write a counteroffer email for salary in different situations.

Requesting Additional Compensation (Sample Email)

Dear [Hiring Manager],

Thank you for extending an offer at [company name] for the position of [position]. This is a very exciting opportunity, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to make a positive contribution to the team.

I’d like to ask if there’s room to negotiate the base salary for the role. According to my research, the industry average for this position is [range to range] for someone with experience and skills comparable to mine. I believe that a salary closer to [$$$] would be more appropriate, given my background and the requirements the role entails.

Please advise as to whether you’re open to discussing this at your earliest convenience.

Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Responding to a Lowball Offer (Sample Email)

Dear [Hiring Manager],

Thank you for extending an offer at [company name] for the position of [position]. This is a very exciting opportunity, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to make a positive contribution to the team.

I’d like to ask if there’s room to negotiate the base salary for the role, as it seems to be lower than the average salary typically offered for this type of position. According to my research, the industry average for this position is [range to range] for someone with experience and skills comparable to mine. I believe that a salary closer to [$$$] would be more appropriate, given my background and the requirements the role entails.

Please advise as to whether you’re open to discussing this at your earliest convenience.

Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Leveraging a Competitor Offer (Sample Email)

Dear [Hiring Manager],

Thank you for extending an offer at [company name] for the position of [position]. This is a very exciting opportunity, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to make a positive contribution to the team.

I’d like to ask if there’s room to negotiate the base salary for the role, as I’m currently considering an offer from another company. They’re offering a base salary of [$$$] along with a competitive benefits package that includes [list of benefits].

I’m very interested in accepting the offer to work at [your company] if you’d be able to [match or increase] the base salary. Please advise as to whether you’re open to discussing this at your earliest convenience.

Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Accepting the Offer (Sample Email)

Dear [Hiring Manager],

I’m pleased to accept the offer for the position of [position name] with [company name] that was extended on [date]. I’m looking forward to working with the team, and I appreciate the opportunity to negotiate a compensation and benefits package that is agreeable to all parties involved.

Per our negotiations, I understand that my starting salary will be [$$$] and that my benefits package will include [list of benefits]. I look forward to beginning work on [date].

Many thanks,
[Your name]

Rejecting the Offer (Sample Email)

Dear [Hiring Manager],

Thank you for extending an offering of employment at [company name]. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you throughout the hiring process, and I appreciate your willingness to consider my request for salary negotiation.

At this time, I must respectfully decline the position. I thank you again for the opportunity to discuss the job, and I regret that we were unable to reach a compromise suitable to all parties involved.

I do hope that you’ll find a suitable candidate for the position.

Kind regards,
[Your name]

The Takeaway

It’s natural to want to be paid what you’re worth, and negotiating your salary may be necessary to get what you want when accepting a job offer. You’ll want to research competitive salaries for your industry and type of job, and also consider the full benefits package. In email communications with your potential employer, it’s important to always be polite, professional, concise, and confident.

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FAQ

How do you politely negotiate salary via email?

Politely negotiating salary via email comes down to using respectful language and clearly explaining your needs and expectations. You want to state your case clearly and simply, then allow your employer time to form a response.

How do you politely counter a salary offer?

Countering a salary offer politely means making your case for better pay firmly but respectfully. You want to ensure that you’re directing your counteroffer to the right person and explaining your reasoning behind for asking for higher pay.

How do you negotiate salary after receiving a job offer?

Once you receive a job offer, you can review the terms and draft a short email to ask if the employer is willing to consider salary negotiations. You then have to wait for their response to see if they’re open to negotiating. If they are, you can make your salary counteroffer.


Photo credit: iStock/ibnjaafar

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