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A company sent me a job offer by email after a job interview,

We would like to offer you the position with basic salary of $[number].

Do let us know your feedback and concern by today.

I've replied at the end of day and want to negotiate the basic salary,

Thank you for offering me the [position] position. I’m excited about [company] and the contribution I can make here.

However, the base salary is lower than I expected and I hope there is room to negotiate here. I understand there is gym membership and health insurance coming with the compensation package, however I still feel it is low given that my extensive work experience, plus with higher living cost around the office area than [current hometown].

I’m very interested in [company] and I would happily accept if you could match with my expected salary. I understand that not everything can be accomplished, but I’m willing to be flexible and find a good solution. I’m confident that I can make valuable contributions to the company, and I hope we can come to a mutual agreement.

And this is their reply after two days,

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately your expected salary is beyond our hiring budget.

We will have to keep you for future reference.

What do they mean by "We will have to keep you for future reference"? Do they want to withdraw the job offer? If not, what should I reply? I still want to accept their job offer even if the salary is not negotiable.

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I will help translate this:

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately your expected salary is beyond our hiring budget.

We will have to keep you for future reference.

The "Thank you for your reply" is a nicety to start an email that is going to be very disappointing.

Unfortunately your expected salary is beyond our hiring budget.

We've been given a number to hire somebody, we offered you what we thought was a fair offer but you replied stating our offer is not adequate. We do not feel that negotiating is going to be productive, and we have a candidate that meets our requirements that is willing to accept a salary in our budget.

We will have to keep you for future reference.

You are technically qualified for the positions we hire for. If something comes up in the future we would be happy to interview you again. But do note: they now know your perceived worth relative to what they need, and may not be so quick to interview you for a position in the same salary range as the one you applied for.

And in case it still isn't clear, the entire email pretty much reduces to: Thank you for your time but we've decided to go with a different candidate. So yes, it means they retracted their offer and rejected your counter-offer. They probably took 2 days to reply to you so they could contact the next candidate and see if they would accept what they were offering.

If you want to try and reply and say "wait, I'll take what you've offered", then you are welcome to try. They've probably already keyed up the next choice so if you are going to accept, don't wait, do it now. The company is probably not going to retract an offer to another candidate because you've said you want the job now.

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Also, as @MichaelKjörling, it appears that op didn't even give a number, just that their offer wasn't enough – Lamak Mar 7 at 16:04
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@RichardU: yeah, it's a little bit harsh, but they seem to have interpreted "I would happily accept if you could match with my expected salary", without mentioning a number, as meaning "I want to spend a lot of time talking in vague terms without actually getting to the negotiating". They'd rather withdraw the offer than ask "how much?" in order to get into a negotiation. Of course, they might have done exactly the same thing if the questioner had given a number. Perhaps they simple aren't flexible. – Steve Jessop Mar 7 at 17:32
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@SteveJessop: I would interpret it more along the lines of "Since you didn't give us a number, you obviously know how salary negotiation works. Our other candidate does not know how salary negotiation works, so we're going to go with them instead." But maybe I'm just cynical. – Kevin Mar 8 at 6:19
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OP mentioned in a comment on another answer that he gave an expected salary in his CV - so the company knew from the start what that was. – EdC Mar 8 at 11:24

It means you didn't get the job, but you could apply again later. The "We will have to keep you for future reference." line is meant to imply that you could apply again in a few years. Essentially it says "This time it didn't work out but we're still friends."

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21  
You don't have the job until you've got a signed contract, negotiation is part of the dance, and looks like it's gone bad for you – The Wandering Dev Manager Mar 7 at 14:59
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You certainly didn't get the job "Unfortunately your expected salary is beyond our hiring budget." - means they can't afford you. – sevensevens Mar 7 at 15:07
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@sulaiman you got the opportunity to start working for that company, but then they withdrew it because you were out of their salary range. Then they told you a somehow canned answer saying that they will keep your CV for future openings – Lamak Mar 7 at 16:00
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I don't think they are still friends. I think they interpreted the OPs line "I would happily accept if you could match with my expected salary." as a refusal on his/her part to negotiate even though the other text indicated a willingness to be flexible. @sulaiman I suspect you edited this text yourself. A warning to you as a non-native speaker, use your own words or be very careful trying to modify carefully nuanced language like this. – Eric Mar 7 at 18:37

It just means that the company will keep your CV on file for future job openings.

If you're unsure of the meaning behind this response, the best thing to do is to reply and ask for clarity. It could mean that the offer has been withdrawn or the company may just be telling you that there is no room for negotiation, so if this salary is not suitable for you then they'll keep your application to see if a position opens up with a salary closer to your needs.

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3  
I agree with your interpretation, and this is indeed an odd wording that I've never seen before. The more usual wording is "We will keep your CV/resumé on file for future reference"... which is a polite way of saying "we might contact you again if anything similar comes up... but in reality, that's pretty much never happened before". – scottishwildcat Mar 7 at 20:19

It means they made you a offer, looking for "yes" or "not yes". They were not interested in negotiating, so "blah blah negotiate blah blah more money blah blah" is just a long winded "not yes". You priced yourself out of this job. It's over. Move on.

Others have mentioned you might be able to respond with "No, wait, wait, I'll take the lower offer. I was just seeing what I could get away with. Now that you've shown you mean business, I'll come crawling back." but I disagree with that. They were willing to hire you at the original price. However, now that you clearly won't be happy at that price, you are no longer a fit for that job. I wouldn't hire you in this situation either, since I'd figure you're just going to be here temporarily while you look for a better job, probably on company time. No thanks.

The quickness and firmness of their response means one of several things:

  1. They were a bit on the fence about you or there was some internal disagreement. Your response pushed it over the edge to "definitely not him".

  2. They have a fixed budget. The original offer already maxxed this out, or close to it. The people doing the hiring don't have room to negotiate, whether they would like to or not.

  3. They have at least one other good candidate. As soon as you proved to be high-maintenance, they dropped you like a hot potato and immediately made the other guy a offer. He accepted, so now they didn't need you anymore and can blow you off in the most expedient way possible.

The part about keeping you for future reference is just standard HR blah blah. They will always say that whether they mean it or not. There is no upside in telling a candidate to "Go away, we never want to see you again". Instead, it's better to say "Not now, but something might come up" regardless of how unlikely that is. This line is therefore content-free and you can't read anything into it. They will keep your information on file (probably marked with "thinks he's worth more than he is"), but don't expect them to actually do anything with it. If reason #2 above applies, then maybe if the situation changes, but still very unlikely.

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It does not mean anything.

They made you an offer. You made a nonspecific counteroffer. They responded with vague generalities.

Feel free to reply with some more nonsense.

Or you could try to make a specific counter offer.

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I've put my expected salary in my resume & they know. – sulaiman Mar 8 at 3:23
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And it was too much so they don't want you anymore. – Josef Mar 8 at 11:39
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@sulaiman it's kind of weird to put your expected salary in your resume. It would leave me with the impression that it's your bottom line ("accept it or don't bother interviewing me"). Also, you can't expect that if they missed that before that they will then look in your resume for your expected salary. – Chan-Ho Suh Mar 8 at 19:30

That means something along the lines of:

They basicly said "Your expected salary is too high at the moment so we can't offer that. Maybe it'll work out in a few years though, we'll keep you on file

Basicly the company is unwilling to pay what you want now but definately open to see if something works out sometime later.

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@sulaiman No, it means "you asked for way too much, and we don't feel trying to negotiate with you is going to get you in our salary range, we are going to go with somebody closer to what we offer.". Basically its a polite way of saying you're too expensive and they don't want to bother negotiating, they have another candidate willing to accept what they've offered. – Ron Beyer Mar 7 at 15:55

It means "no".

You asked for more money, and they declined to provide it. Your counter-offer was rejected.

Furthermore, they do not appear to wish to continue negotiating. "We will have to keep you for future reference" has somewhat odd wording, but imagine them sighing and putting your CV into a cupboard for the next time they have a position open up that they need to fill.

They've archived your interactions and that's that. You could barry the hatchet and grudgingly accept their offer — the offer that's lower than what you want — or you could move on to the next opportunity.

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