How to negotiate your starting salary with a compelling counter offer email

First off, congrats on making it this far. 👏 If you're here it probably means you have a job offer or will soon! You've successfully navigated the tricky job interview process.

Now it's time to negotiate your salary, and that means starting with a counter offer. But how do you reply to an offer letter (or verbal job offer) to begin negotiating your salary? What do you say? And should you send your counter offer via email or negotiate on the phone?

This guide will show you how to negotiate your salary step-by-step. First, we’ll discuss whether you should bother negotiating your salary at all, then you’ll learn whether it's best to negotiate through email or on the phone. And lastly, you’ll get a detailed example of a counter offer letter along with a simple process to build your case and write your own counter offer email.

Because this brief period typically sets the table for the entire salary negotiation and has a big impact on your final salary, this guide has become one of the most popular things I've ever written and helped a ton of people get paid what they're worth. I'm really excited to share it with you.

Should you negotiate your job offer? Even if it’s already pretty good?

Short answer: Yes. 😉

Why yes? Because there might be room to negotiate.

If you interviewed well and avoided sharing your current or expected salary, then the offer is designed to convince you to join their team.

Most job offers—even strong ones—leave wiggle room for negotiating. So you should counter to see if there’s wiggle room and how much wiggle room there might be.

Yes, negotiating your starting salary is a good way to get paid what you’re worth. Yes, negotiating will give you the best opportunity to get other additional benefits like vacation time or signing bonuses.

But the best reason to negotiate is that you could literally be leaving money on the table if you don’t test the company to see if there’s room to negotiate.

Should you negotiate your salary via email or phone?

I recommend negotiating salary over email as long as you can, but you’ll end up negotiating over the phone by the end of the process.

Sending a counter offer email is better for you because you can be deliberate with every word. You can carefully articulate your counter offer and make a better case. Another benefit is emails can be circulated internally among the decision makers who might need to approve a higher salary for you.

When you counter offer on the phone, you’re more likely to make mistakes due to nervousness or a simple lack of familiarity with the negotiation process. It’s also difficult to succinctly state your case for why you’re an exceptional candidate for the position when you’re nervous and feeling rushed on a phone call.

And even if you articulate your case well, then you’re at the mercy of the recruiter to clearly communicate your case to the other decision makers. You’re literally playing “The Telephone Game” with your salary negotiation, only miscommunications that result in a lower salary just aren’t nearly as funny.

First things first: Ask for time to consider the job offer

By now you should be convinced that negotiating your salary via counter offer is the way to go. So where to begin?

The first thing you should do is ask for some time to consider the job offer so that you can write a compelling salary negotiation email.

Your job offer will probably be of the informal variety, and you’ll either be told the details on a phone call with a hiring manager, or via email.

Here’s what to say to get some more time to consider your job offer when it’s shared over the phone:

Thank you so much for your job offer. Do you mind if I take a couple of days to consider your offer and discuss this opportunity with my family?

They’ll almost certainly say, “Sure! I look forward to hearing what you think, and please let me know if you have any questions.”

And now you’ve moved the conversation off of the phone and into email.

Sometimes, you’ll get the job offer via email and you can just respond to that email and ask for more time in the same way. You can also respond with an email to a verbal offer made by the hiring manager or recruiter with an email.