I recently received a written offer for a developer job with a company that I would love to work for, but I feel like I got low-balled with the proposed salary. (Without going into hard numbers, I'll just say that I earned more doing public school clerical work.) I did some trial work with them at a rate that would have come out to about double what the proposed salary is; it's a full-time position and I knew not to count on that exact number after benefits and such, but I thought it would be in the same ballpark and not a different zip code. I'm not the most experienced developer, but I've been doing full-time work for almost a year now and we discussed my current salary at the interview. (It's just over $10k more than what they proposed.)

I would really like to accept the job, but I can't afford the pay cut that comes with it. My question is: How can I go about negotiating a salary for a written job offer? In the past, I've had 'interviews' to go over the job offer and have been able to discuss the compensation before receiving the 'official' offer, but I've never just straight-up received a letter to accept or not. Is this a take it or leave it situation? What's the best way to state that I can't accept the specifics of the offer without necessarily rejecting the job entirely?

  • Just keep in mind. As a contractor you can often ask for more, since the company, does not have to handle any tax obligations on your behalf. So you are responsible for claiming your income, from that contract at the end of the day, while if you were a full-time employee you would get the appropriate tax documents at the end of the year. If you are a full-time employer you also have to consider the fact, your income, will be after tax withholding. Likewise, your double proposed salary value, is before withholding. This is from the perspective of an American.
    – Donald
    Feb 9, 2022 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


My question is: How can I go about negotiating a salary for a written job offer?

You call and talk to them.

You say something along the lines of "I would really like to accept the job, but I can't afford the pay cut that comes with it. Can you do $x?"

Before calling get it straight in your own head what you want to ask for ($x) and what you are willing to accept (something less than $x).

If they can't meet your minimum, you thank them for the chance to interview, and walk away.


What you want to earn and what you're worth to them are unrelated.

The response to that is to do your research and find out what others in similar jobs are paid. That should be your starting point.

But perhaps you have some special skills or experience that make you worth a premium. So now you have some data to justify your salary requirements.

Using that information you should contact the HR representative who you've been working with and state your case. Start with something like "I am really looking forward to the opportunities at [name of company] but the offered compensation did not meet my expectations."

If they are hard and fast on the offer, then you must choose to take it as is or turn it down. Keep in mind, however, that they have already invested quite a bit of time and money in recruiting and evaluating you. So there is a cost to them if you turn the offer down. Plus they have to start over with someone else or offer the position to the next candidate in line, provided they are still available.

If they are negotiable, then state what you want and then back it up with your research.

It's no surprise that most companies want to get employees at the lowest possible price. But they also want "top talent". Those don't usually go together.

If getting the right pay is important to you. Hold your ground and keep looking it they don't want to negotiate.

I'll also suggest that you might offer a compromise if they are somewhat negotiable but unwilling to match your request. See if they can offer you an initial salary of X with an increase to X * Y% at some point in the future (say 6 months) if your performance justifies it. That gives them some safety if you are not as good as you appear but also lets you exceed their expectations and then get rewarded appropriately.

There are books written on how to negotiate job offers so a random internet posting is not likely to replace that.

  • 4
    I would not have faith in the promise of a bump in 6 months. Company would have even more leverage to lowball the salary. Feb 8, 2022 at 21:54
  • As always, get it in writing. But such a company is not a good one to work for. So better to find out after 6 months than later...
    – jwh20
    Feb 8, 2022 at 22:01
  • 3
    Even if it's in writing, it won't happen. There will be some GOTCHA! clause somewhere that allows them to get out of it. Get the salary upfront, or walk.
    – Peter K.
    Feb 8, 2022 at 23:07
  • I'm glad I don't work for you company!
    – jwh20
    Feb 9, 2022 at 10:50

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