How To Counteroffer Your Salary After Receiving a Job Offer

Updated July 20, 2023

While receiving a job offer is an exciting development in your career, you may not always receive everything you wanted initially. In this situation, you may consider making a counteroffer first to negotiate a new starting salary or employment terms. With an effective counteroffer process, you can come to an agreement that satisfies your needs, along with those of your potential employers.

In this article, we define a counteroffer, provide steps for how to make a salary counteroffer and review targeted tips for the hiring process.

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What is a counteroffer?

A job candidate makes a counteroffer if they disagree with the initial job offer. Candidates often counteroffer when they feel that the salary offered doesn't meet their needs, level of experience or the industry average. They can provide a specific salary amount or compensation request verbally or in a written format, such as a letter or email.

In their counteroffer, the candidate expresses their thanks and states their request using supporting evidence or justification. From there, the hiring manager decides whether to accept, decline or negotiate the counteroffer.

Related: What To Expect in a Job Offer Letter (With Examples)

How to make a salary counteroffer

You can use the following steps as guidance when countering a job offer to negotiate your compensation:

1. Ask for time to make your decision

When you receive a job offer, you first want to thank the employer for their consideration. Showing gratitude can demonstrate your thoughtfulness and professionalism. Then you can ask them for time to think over your decision. Typically, they can provide a deadline for your response. Otherwise, you may be able to set the timeline yourself. To respect their time and efforts, try to limit yourself to two or three days. During this time, you perform research and prepare yourself to make a reasonable and fair counteroffer.

2. Conduct research on industry compensation

If you counter the initial salary offer, you require evidence to support your request and demonstrate why it's reasonable. You can ask industry connections about your position's average salary or use resources like Indeed's Salary Calculator. Knowing the area's cost of living can also help ensure the salary meets your personal needs. This information can help you determine what compensation makes you feel comfortable. Further, companies may make these adjustments to stay competitive with other employers in the industry.

Related: How To Explain Your Desired Salary (With Tips and Examples)

3. Assess your qualifications and experience

Beyond industry standards, you can demonstrate why you deserve more compensation by outlining the valuable skills and experiences you provide as an employee. Think about what differentiates you from other candidates, such as the specific accomplishments you have reached in your career or the results you created for other employers. Combining this information with your research can make a compelling case for your counteroffer. The hiring manager already has shown interest, so this is your opportunity to remind them why they picked you among the other candidates.

4. Review and evaluate the initial offer

Now you can thoroughly review the job offer and assess it against your research. If the initial salary doesn't satisfy you, review the benefits package offered to you. In some situations, you may find that the additional benefits compensate for a lower-than-desired salary. If not, then you can use both compensation areas during the negotiation process.

Some companies may not have the ability to provide a higher salary, so you can try to negotiate existing or new benefits as a backup plan. Some benefits you might negotiate in the contract include flexible working hours, remote work or a hybrid schedule, professional development opportunities or additional vacation time.

5. Determine your counteroffer value

When developing a salary counteroffer, you may want to provide a figure slightly higher than desired. By asking for more, it can help you secure your ideal salary even if the employer negotiates downward from the request. Providing a salary rather than a range shows that you have confidence in knowing the exact amount you want or believe you deserve. It also gives the employer a more specific starting point for negotiations. Use your research and qualifications to develop a reasonable ask that you can support with evidence.

6. Submit your counteroffer

Now that you defined your desired compensation, you can submit your counteroffer. You may do this verbally by meeting with the employer in person or speaking over the phone. Otherwise, you can detail your request in a formal letter or email and set up a time to negotiate the offer if necessary. Start your counteroffer by expressing your continued interest in the opportunity and highlighting your valuable experiences and qualifications. Display your professionalism by stating that you respect their offer but believe yours is more appropriate for specific reasons, using your research as evidence.

Related: How To Write a Letter for Counteroffer: Tips and Examples

7. Prepare for the employer's response

As you submit your request, you can begin planning and preparing for the counteroffer process. Think about all possible outcomes and how you respond to them. For example, if the employer can't increase your base salary, you may prepare a list of benefits you're willing to negotiate instead. Having a plan can help you feel more confident when conducting negotiations. You can even draft a script for yourself and practice speaking to the employer.

You may also want to prepare yourself if they decline your counteroffer and can't negotiate. Your response may vary on your situation, such as whether you're currently employed. If you're unemployed, you may still find it worthwhile to take the job despite the lacking offer. Again, think about all possible scenarios and determine what makes you walk away or feel comfortable staying.

Related: Salary Negotiation Scripts to Counter Any Job Offer

8. Negotiate the offer as needed

If the employer is willing to negotiate your counteroffer, then you can begin that process. Whatever requests you make during negotiations, always express the justifications behind them. For example, you can show evidence that the initial salary offer is well below the average for your industry and position. You can also describe your prior experiences and accomplishments to demonstrate that you can create valuable results for employers. This information can justify why you deserve to earn more or receive particular benefits.

As mentioned, preparing a script beforehand can help you enter negotiation conversations with a sense of confidence. Confidence can demonstrate to the employer that you're sure of your worth and value as an employee. If you appear nervous, it may make them feel more unsure about your claims.

Related: How To Negotiate Salary After a Job Offer (With 13 Tips)

9. Show a willingness to compromise

When negotiating your salary or compensation, you want to be firm about your request while also showing flexibility. If the employer can't meet your specific salary request, you may ask whether particular benefits can be changed or added to your offer. For example, you can try negotiating additional vacation days or compensation methods, such as stock options. Your behavior during negotiations can provide a preview of what it's like to work with you. Remain professional and respectful at all times to maintain a positive relationship, no matter the outcome.

10. Make your final decision on the offer

As the negotiation process ends, decide whether to accept or decline the job. If you agree on terms that meet everyone's needs, it can help make your decision easy. You sometimes may still find the offer lacking despite your negotiation efforts. Then you determine whether the job is worth taking or if you can afford to leave it.

Whichever choice you make, continue showing respect for the employer by thanking them for their time and consideration. If you decline the job, you want to leave a positive impression in case future opportunities arise.

Related: 11 Ways To Feel Confident About Accepting a Job Offer

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Tips for negotiating a counteroffer

You can use the following list of advice to help make the process run more smoothly when providing a counteroffer:

Be honest

You can use specific information, such as average industry salaries, your level of experience or prior compensation, as leverage when negotiating. Always use evidence to support such claims. Your potential employer may not learn immediately if you lied about having another job offer, but they could find out eventually. Demonstrate honesty to build and maintain a trusting employment relationship.

Know the employer's constraints

An effective negotiation process satisfies both parties, so consider the employer's point of view along with yours. For example, think about how large the company is or how many people they're hiring currently. These factors can affect the company's ability to negotiate your salary or other compensation. Using these insights can help you develop a realistic counteroffer, which can make the negotiation process smoother.

Show your enthusiasm

As a potential employee, you want to express your continued interest in the opportunity and company. Rather than giving ultimatums, focus on collaborating with the employer to find options that benefit everyone. This behavior helps prove that you can work well with others in the company. It can also demonstrate your genuine interest in joining the team, rather than focusing solely on how much you want to earn.

Get written documentation

When you verbally agree upon new terms for your job offer, ask the employer to send you a revised written version, if they don't offer to do so automatically. This document provides clarity on the role's expectations and serves as evidence of the negotiated changes. It's essential to have this proof if you encounter issues later or notice they did not implement some changes.

Practice your pitch with someone else

Ask a trusted friend or colleague to rehearse the negotiation process with you. If this person has industry experience, they can ask you relevant questions you may encounter and assess whether you have made a compelling case. Having this practice can help you feel more comfortable talking about yourself and explaining why you deserve more compensation. The more comfortable you feel, the more confidence you can show when speaking to the employer.

Turn unexpected events into productive offerings

If the role you want offers something other than what you expected from it during the negotiations, then it's reasonable to present a counteroffer. Many companies are willing to be flexible with their offers, so requesting small changes can help you get the most from that company's offerings. For example, you may negotiate a better benefits package for your lifestyle or higher compensation based on your skills.

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