I got a job offer from one of the big 4 with a lower salary than I expected (25% less than what I earn currently). knowing that I can accept up to -10% compared to what I earn, because the position and the workplace are very interesting, what is the best way to negotiate? Do you think sharing my pay slip is the best approach to convince them?

  • 3
    Why not just tell them your salary expectations?
    – Kilisi
    Apr 22, 2021 at 10:24
  • I did in my first interview with HR...
    – Reus
    Apr 22, 2021 at 10:26
  • What country is this in? Certainly the US say you would never, ever, ever show anything like a pay slip.
    – Fattie
    Apr 22, 2021 at 11:24
  • 4
    If you've already told them your salary expectations, then you can repeat that to them, but either there's been a misunderstanding/miscommunication somewhere (possible but unlikely), or more likely the offer reflects the fact they don't perceive you being worth anywhere near the salary you expect, in which case, there's no harm in negotiating, but I wouldn't be optimistic about a favourable outcome. Keep searching for jobs unless you're really backed into a tight corner. Apr 22, 2021 at 13:01
  • Is there a hiring manager involved? If there is, tell them what you're currently earning and that taking this position would be like taking a paycut. Don't depend on HR to have relayed that information to them. And don't offer to show your payslips. It's not like they have requested to see them, or have they? Apr 23, 2021 at 1:18

4 Answers 4


This will sound too obvious, but they may have simply taken whatever number you said, and took approximately 15% off that.

Regardless, you have 2 problems

  • They think you're willing to settle for less than the actual amount
  • Possibly, you may have given the impression that you don't care about money

Some possibilities:

Changing their impression of your best-alternative

  • Tell them you have received another offer, at exactly 100% of current salary (which is true in a way).
  • Give them some kind of reassurance that you're not just jerking them around - say that you find the work at their company more interesting and are excited about joining (also true).

Changing their impression of not being interested in money and/or not being willing to stand your ground

  • Rather than convince them your personality changed, and that you're not the nice guy/gal they fell in love with in the interview, an alternative trick is to introduce another invisible character who is telling you what to do. Yes, really. This unseen character will play the part of the bad cop. The equivalent of "let me go check with the manager" or "let me go home talk it over with my spouse" when buying a car.
  • So in this case, say you spoke with an experienced mentor (make up e.g. a former boss who who works at X, don't give a name, 2 sentences max). The mentor advised you to take whichever offer is the best salary, the conversation with them opened your eyes, and their advice is precisely what you will now be doing. Because you like this company better, you are hoping they can beat the 100% number by at least +XX ... Believe it or not, this kind of nonsense can work.

As a final note, your reaction to any excuse about budgets or standard levels of pay should be very polite disbelief. Maybe a "yes yes of course, very understandable", painfully-fake-smile-and-nod, and then reiterate "but here's where I am, and here's what I'm looking for". If they're big-4, in whatever industry, then by definition they can afford the same salary that anyone else is paying.

  • Thank you very Pete for this clear reply... I’ve sent my counter offer today and get this answer “we value your experience and motivation to join us and we are fully convinced that you would be great addition to the team. We will review your request internally and I will come back to you next week” Do you think it is a good sign.?
    – Reus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 14:41
  • This answer helps me a lot to formulate my email
    – Reus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 14:47
  • 1
    Thanks Pete, I hope they will come back with big YES or at least proposing something close to my demand...fingers crossed 🤞
    – Reus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 14:58
  • 1
    Sadly, they have not accepted my counter offer - they have a "salary grid" and do not want to make an exception - despite the fact that it is a major pay cut. I'm seriously considering accepting their offer because I don't see myself progressing professionally in my current role.
    – Reus
    May 6, 2021 at 13:53
  • 2
    Sorry to hear that. For the record "salary grid" is pure fluff wrapped in a delicately thin formality. If they didn't move at all on the number it's not a great sign for a long term future there, IMO.
    – Pete W
    May 6, 2021 at 14:17

I appreciate the offer but the absolute lowest I'm willing to go from the $100,000 I initially proposed is $90,000. Thanks!

Obviously don't send that unless you're prepared to continue the job search.

You could send the paycheck stub but I feel like that's providing information that they simply do not need. It's kinda like telling your employee what you intend to do when putting in a time off request instead of just putting in the time off request.

Like if you establish a pattern of providing excess information early on then what are you going to do when you want to take time off to interview at another company? In that scenario your options are:

  • all of a sudden, decline to tell them your plans (which, in and of itself, could look suspicious since it's a break from the norm)
  • lie to them and tell them that you're going to a doctors appointment when you're in fact going to an interview (and apparently a lot of people think even a white lie is a terrible thing)
  • 1
    Thanks Neubert for this detailed feedback
    – Reus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 14:44

Assuming you haven't discussed numbers before.

  1. Read up on the negotiation and package strategies for your specific company, for example: https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/apple-salary-negotiation/
  2. Make sure you fully understand the package (benefits, equity, bonus, 401k match, etc) and make an "apples to apples" comparison.
  3. Send them an "opening" note. "I'm super excited about the role and the company but this offer is a very significant pay cut compared to my current compensation. How can we work through this?"
  4. Take your next step based on the answer: Could be "Too bad, so sad", "What's your minimum number?", "let's review all the details of your package and not just focus on base", etc.

If you have discussed numbers before and the offer came in low despite of that, you can try the same approach but it's unlikely to work.

  • This was absolutely helpful for me...thanks Hilmar
    – Reus
    Apr 23, 2021 at 14:46

I'd like to offer a slightly different perspective over the whole question. You seem to be in a dilemma over two incomparable things - money and "very interesting work".

There are so different that any attempt to trade one for the other is doomed, I dare say. A job can be basically interesting or dull. There's hardly such thing as a medium-interesting job, or a little bit above average interesting job, etc. Therefore, you cannot make a decision such as "if the salary is bigger by a degree, then I'd settle for a less interesting work by a degree" or vice versa.

Plus, your job and position, can change from interesting into dull at the snap of boss's fingers (and that does happen very often - no one would go advertizing the dull aspects of work. As soon as you are hired you may get assigned tasks quite different from what you have been led to believe and if you may be shown the door if you do not embrace that new reality.) Your own perceptions of what is interesting may change. You may quickly get into the new stuff and then reach a plateau. "Interesting" is quite subjective, while the amount of your salary would stay exactly as negotiated.

My advice would be to seek the salary which would keep you financially satisfied and only when that premise is being met, choose on the basis of purportedly very interesting work and position.

Also, do not forget that most employers show respect or disrespect to their employees on the basis of the salaries they pay them, not on employees' genuine interest and devotion to their jobs.

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