After updating your resume and completing a series of successful interviews, the company decides to make you an offer. As you review the letter, you find that the salary is far less than what you expected. If you find yourself in this scenario, you’re not alone.

Countless job seekers find themselves in a position where they need to weigh the pros and cons of accepting an offer when the salary is below their expectations. The good news is that you have the power to negotiate.

Throughout this guide, we’ll provide valuable insights to help you develop a strong counter proposal and generate a higher salary. This will improve your chances of increasing the strength of the offer.

When Should You Negotiate a Salary Increase?

You’ll likely want to negotiate a higher salary after receiving the initial job offer. If an organization presses you on your ideal salary during the interview, you may need to prepare a response ahead of time. It’s never ideal to show your cards this early in the hiring process, but if the employer is insistent, the best approach is to provide a salary range rather than an exact figure. This will allow you to negotiate more effectively if you receive an offer that doesn’t align with your financial goals and needs.

Conduct Research on Average Salaries in Your Field

It’s important to perform independent research on average salaries for your position prior to sending a counter proposal. If the salary is significantly below industry standards, this is something you can use during your negotiation. However, if the offer meets or even exceeds industry standards, you’ll need to make a strong case for why your qualifications and experience make you deserving of a better offer.

How to Make Your Case for a Salary Increase

To create an effective counter proposal, you need to convince prospective employers that the value you can bring to their team is worth a higher salary. You should focus on specific areas where you can help the organization grow and improve using prior examples from your career. Data shows that companies who acquire top talent often save thousands of dollars each year, so the goal is to convince employers that offering you a larger salary is also a win for them.

Can You Lose a Job Offer by Negotiating Salary?

Unfortunately, negotiating a higher salary after receiving the job offer does carry some risk. Certain employers may feel insulted, especially if you provide a number outside of their financial means. In other cases, the company may be firm in what they’re willing to pay and won’t be open to providing a more substantial offer. If you’re going to negotiate a salary, you need to be prepared to walk away or have the offer rescinded. This is why it’s important to evaluate whether or not the wage increase is worth losing the job opportunity before negotiating.

Ask for a Salary Slightly Above Your Target Figure

When building your counter proposal, you want to ask for a slightly higher salary than what you’re looking for. This way, you have a much better chance of negotiating with the company to receive compensation that matches your target figure. You must be careful not to inflate your figure too drastically, as you might risk insulting potential employers and losing the job offer altogether.

How to Negotiate a Salary In-Person

If you’re more comfortable discussing a counter proposal in person, you should contact the hiring manager to schedule a meeting after receiving the job offer. This will allow you to make a case for yourself in a fluid conversational format. This also allows the employer to engage with you and ask further questions on how your background can create value for the company. Although you don’t want to seem as if you’re reading off of a script, you should take some time to refine your pitch before the salary negotiation.

Ask the Company How Long You Have to Decide

Accepting a job offer is a life-changing decision. You don’t want to feel rushed in providing an answer. If the salary is less than ideal and the company expects an immediate response, this may indicate that the organization has a toxic culture. Although it’s never a good feeling to walk away from a job offer, you want to be sure that accepting a position is the right decision for your short-term and long-term goals before you move forward. If the company isn’t willing to give you a few days to consider, they may not be the right fit.

How to Negotiate Salary Via Email

If you feel that you can better articulate your case for a salary increase via email, you should take the time to craft a strong counter proposal for the hiring manager. Start by evaluating how your past achievements and experiences can create value for the organization. Think about the information you’ve learned about the organization during the interview process and ask yourself how your qualifications can benefit their team. Below, you’ll find some examples to help you create a compelling counter proposal:

  • Example #1

Dear Cynthia Roberts, 

First, I wanted to thank you for the job offer. I’m highly interested in the Project Manager position, and I believe in the customer solutions your company is providing. Unfortunately, your proposed salary isn’t an increase from my current role. If you’re open to negotiation, I would be willing to accept an offer of $90K. 

During my time with Advent Corp., I played a significant role in restructuring the project management organization to incorporate an Agile-Waterfall hybrid approach as the company continued to scale. My efforts helped the company to maintain high service levels while expanding its client base. By retaining existing accounts and securing new business, we grew revenue by over $5M in just under three years. I am confident that my experience would be invaluable to your project management organization as you continue to increase your market share. 

I hope this provides insights into why I’m asking for a larger salary. If you’re open to increasing the offer, I would be more than happy to join your team. I appreciate both your time and consideration. 

Sincerely,

Selena Ramirez

In this example, the candidate builds their pitch by showcasing a career achievement that created substantial value for a previous employer. They also make a point to highlight how this experience can directly benefit the company they’re in conversation with. During the interview, they learned about how the organization continues to grow its market share. The candidate makes an impressive case for how their project management background can help them retain existing clients during expansion.

  • Example #2

Dear Mr. Akira Tanaka, 

I want to begin by thanking you for your job offer. I’ve greatly enjoyed our conversations throughout the interview process and am very interested in the Senior Software Developer position with Excelsior Technology. Unfortunately, your proposed salary isn’t enough for me to leave my current company. When I began looking to make a lateral move in my career, I was aiming for an annual salary of $110K. 

While working as a senior software developer for Ark Technologies, I led a team of developers, engineers, and UX designers to create a dynamic mobile application that allowed our users to locate mental health services based on their unique profiles. 

Not only did we increase our user base by over 700K in just one year of launch, but we also received recognition from Forbes as one of the top ten new apps for 2021. I am confident that my experience as an innovator within the technology space would be a valuable addition to your organization.  

I hope this provides insight into why I’m asking for a larger salary. I would be thrilled to join your team. Thank you again for your time and consideration if you’re willing to increase the offer to $110K annually. 

Sincerely,

Joseph Corbin

In this example, the job seeker highlights how their past success as a software developer warrants a better offer from the organization. They’re also clear and candid that the offer isn’t a substantial increase from their current position. People generally look for a new job for one of two reasons, to make a career change or secure higher compensation. Hiring managers will better understand why you’re asking for a larger salary if you provide them with this context.

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Frank Hackett

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

Frank Hackett is a professional resume writer and career consultant with over eight years of experience. As the lead editor at a boutique career consulting firm, Frank developed an innovative approach to resume writing that empowers job seekers to tell their professional stories. His approach involves creating accomplishment-driven documents that balance keyword optimization with personal branding. Frank is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PAWRCC).