When to Negotiate Salary and When to Not

The question of when to negotiate salary is one that many job seekers grapple with. Should you always negotiate an offered salary, or is it dependent upon the situation and in which situation is it ok to speak up and ask for more without the risk of losing the offer altogether?

The good news is; salary negotiations are not always as complicated or daunting as they may appear. Allow us to simplify the process and offer up a few practical tips on when (and how) to negotiate salary, and when to not. 

When to Consider Negotiating 

  1. An official offer letter has been presented to you

The first rule in negotiating is to wait until you have something official to thoughtfully counteroffer. As a candidate, you have much more power when you know the company wants you and you are the selected one. If you’ve only been giving a verbal offer, wait until the official written offer is provided to you, then if it is less than what you were anticipating, the time to respectfully counteroffer is now. Many candidates make the mistake of jumping the gun and demanding a higher salary before an official offer is even made, don’t let that be you.

  1. You can confidently articulate the value you’d provide to the company

One thing candidates often forget when it comes to salary is the fact that employers are not interested in your cost of living – how much your mortgage is, your childcare, your car payment, etc. Instead, they care about what value you are going to bring their organization from the moment you walk through their doors. If you have an official offer letter in your hands, you better ensure you counteroffer comes with a great pitch as to why you are worth more than what they initially offered you. Clearly spell out the value you will bring to their organization that will make their extra investment worth it. 

  1. You suspect you may resent the job quickly 

If you receive an offer that makes you immediately feel anxious, stressed or downright mad, stop and think about how you will feel in a month, six months, or three years down the road if you accept a salary that is completely unacceptable for you and your lifestyle. Moreover, your employer deserves to have a new hire who is excited about the new opportunity and ready to deliver and make a positive impact on the organization. Plus, you deserve a job that you enjoy and believe you are fairly compensated for. 

  1. You won’t accept the job unless the salary is higher

Don’t allow yourself to become so angered or frustrated by a disappointing initial offer that you simply walk away. This is particularly important if you like the position and the company as a whole. Instead of flat out declining, absolutely consider proposing a more favorable compensation package first. Carefully negotiating a dismal initial offer is a much better approach than walking, because worst case, the outcome would be the same either way, so at least give a solid attempt at a counteroffer. 

When to Think Twice About Negotiating 

  1. You’ve already accepted the initial offer

A job offer can be an exciting moment, in which you immediately blurt out, “I accept!” It’s not until you go home and your partner kindly reminds you of your student loan debt, an impending new car needed to accommodate your growing family or that big wedding invite in Hawaii. All of these things require financial support, but you’ve accepted an offer at a lower number. Should you go back and try to negotiate a few more dollars out of your new employer? The answer is no. Not only will they be annoyed, but it will display you as a discourteous and potentially greedy employee who is trying to squeeze out a few more bucks. With any job offer, it’s always best to thank the potential employer then kindly ask for the night to consider. Give yourself the opportunity to think through the offer from all angles before hastily accepting something you may regret down the road. 

  1. They specifically state this is their best offer

If an employer really wants you, they may come right out of the gate with their top offer, especially when they know your salary requirements are above what their budgeted range allows. In that case, they may accompany an offer with something like, “We really want you to join our organization, so we’re giving you our best offer.” If you aren’t planning to decline at that number, it is not wise to ask for more at this point. You will look like you either didn’t hear them when they said “this is our best offer” or that you don’t care at all about the company’s budget. 

  1. You have nothing to justify a counteroffer

If you’ve done your research and know that the salary being offered is appropriate for the industry, location and your experience, don’t try to negotiate just for the sake of negotiating. If you don’t have justification for your request for more, it is inappropriate to make the ask.

All in all, remember that every situation is different. It is important to identify all the pros and cons before you consider negotiating. Think about how much you really want or need the opportunity and look for cues. If you decide that an attempt at negotiating for more is appropriate, build a respectful proposal that clearly states why you’re worth it.