As you near the end of the recruitment process, a job offer may be imminent. If you have provided enough detail during the interviews on your remuneration expectations, the offer will hopefully be in the ballpark. That does not, however, guarantee that you will be entirely satisfied. There may be an amount of back and forth until a final offer.
Negotiating salary can be a minefield if not handled in the right way. Relationships that you have worked so hard to build up over the course of a few meetings can be blown up if there is a sense of disconnect. Stand up for your worth, but do not be greedy about it. Your salary negotiation should be firmly grounded in reality.
In this blog, we investigate how to write a salary negotiation email. This should ideally be sent after the initial offer and share your position on what remuneration would be acceptable. We look at:
- When to send a salary negotiation email
- How to write an email about salary
- Salary negotiation email example
- What if the salary negotiation strategy fails?
When to send a salary negotiation email
Every good negotiator knows that they shouldn’t show their hand too early. If an employer asks you about your salary expectations during the interview process, consider giving them a broad range where the bottom figure is acceptable for you and the top figure is well above what you would accept. You never quite know just how much they will be interested in you, so don’t undersell yourself.
For this reason, avoid sending a formal salary negotiation email until you have received an offer. Mentioning a salary range as an indication in an interview is one thing, but once you have put your position down on paper it is hard to take back.
The most important thing when receiving a job offer is to take your time with the response. Hopefully, this blog will offer some guidance. Think through what you are asking for. Do your research. Be realistic with your counteroffer.
Your new boss will be expecting you to come back with your demands. They will appreciate the fact that you value yourself—don’t feel bad about sticking to your remuneration guns.
How to write an email about salary
The nerves will kick in when you sit down to respond to the salary offer. What should you say? How should you position your thoughts? What if they retract the offer?
All sorts of negative thoughts can cross your mind at this point, but if you are set in your intentions the question is not whether to write the email, but how.
Show that you have done your research
Negotiate with a solid grasp of what you are worth in the market. Employers will know that their offer needs to be competitive with what other companies may be offering. Hinting that you could potentially get more elsewhere is a good approach, although avoid ultimatums, if possible. They do not have to know the state of play with your other opportunities.
While it is useful to justify your negotiating position, it is important to realize that a salary negotiation comes down to two things: 1. how much a hiring manager wants you and 2. how much they can stretch the budget to get you. Sharing research shows that you are serious, but if they do not have the budget or the desire, then you won’t be getting an increased offer.
Keep it brief and unemotional
Set out what you are looking for in a simple bullet-pointed list. Separate every part of the package and take care not to go lower than what you have been offered in any aspect. Using your judgment is key in terms of what you ask for, so retain a balance between ambition and reason. You will know how the interview process went, so rely on your gut.
The salary negotiation email should avoid emotion where possible. Treat it as a business transaction. The hiring manager would likely love to hire you, but their hands may well be tied. Tugging on the emotional heartstrings may well backfire. If they cannot offer more and you accept anyway, there will be a few awkward first weeks on the job.
Don’t sell yourself too much in the email
Your potential future boss will have made up their mind about you. You will never quite know their reasons for wanting to hire you, so don’t waste space in the salary negotiation letter by going over the reasons why you are so fantastic.
The cold facts of the matter are that they will either decide to move towards you in the remuneration discussion or not. Sure, outline that you have done your research, but at this point, they will make their decision based on an opinion of you that is fully formed.
Avoid suggesting complicated schemes
In the hope that you might stumble on a compensation package that works, it is tempting to suggest performance-related bonus schemes. This shows a willingness to deliver results, but until you are in the job you won’t know just how you will perform.
If you are in any kind of sales-related role it is easy to be seduced by an incentive scheme where the sky is the limit. Steer clear of remuneration packages that seem too good to be true. They usually will be.
Salary negotiation email example
Let’s take a look at a sample salary negotiation email. Feel free to copy this and adapt it to fit your needs.
Dear Mrs. Simms,
I write to express my gratitude for the job offer. It has been an enjoyable interview process and I remain hopeful of a successful conclusion.
After careful consideration, I would like to suggest a couple of amendments to the proposal. The base salary and bonus scheme is not where I anticipated and seems to be at the bottom end of the salary scheme that was advertised.
I have other offers ranging from a 15 to 22% uplift. While I have made clear that you are my first choice, I wonder whether you might feel that my experience is worth more. I know that we discussed several projects that would be over and above the job description.
I would be looking for the following remuneration:
- $95k basic salary rising to $115k after three years
- Performance-led bonus ranging from 25%-40%
- Flexible working arrangements: 50% remote
Having done my research, this suggestion is not beyond where the market would value someone of my experience.
Again, I very much enjoyed meeting you and hope that you may be able to move towards me in this regard. I am happy to have a conversation to discuss.
What if the salary email strategy fails?
If you have not received the salary package that you desire, there are several options. Your starting salary is subject to change if you do a fantastic job—it is not always set in stone for the foreseeable future. Employers nearly always want to pay you enough to hire you, but there are often limitations.
Here are a few ideas of what to do if the salary negotiation goes sideways.
- Accept anyway and hope for a swift raise. Employers will expect you to negotiate your salary package. In every negotiation, there is a party that must back down first. There is no shame in not hitting your desired salary, so deciding to accept and work hard for a raise is a valid choice. If you have negotiated respectfully, this will not be a problem.
- Look at increasing your responsibilities. While your job role is still in the negotiation stage, while you may not get any more money, it may be worth trying to agree on some extra responsibilities or even a slightly more senior-sounding job title.
- Try to negotiate a sign-on bonus. While salary might be constrained by internal pay structures, a sign-on bonus is not uncommon for the more senior roles. This is worth talking through in a phone call as you need to ascertain just how keen they are to hire you.
- Decline swiftly and politely. Sometimes, it is only the finality of a “no” that causes an employer to move to a salary offer that you would accept. This is a high-risk negotiating tactic, so don’t decline the role unless you are truly ready to walk away. Even if the employer offers you something acceptable, you may wish to consider why they could have moved for you earlier. Such hardcore negotiation doesn’t exactly put the employee first.
If you cannot come to an agreement on salary, it is not the end of the world. If the offer is genuinely too far away from your expectations, then you should strongly consider holding out for something better. If you are not motivated by the salary, you will likely be looking for another role after a few months anyway.
- A salary negotiation email should contain a clear statement of your position.
- Do not waste space on selling yourself—keep emotions out of it.
- Do not take a low offer personally. There may be mitigating circumstances.
- Do your research and come up with something that you think they could manage.