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After a rather successful interview, I was sent a formal job offer.

During the interview, I was asked what I'd like my salary to be. I tried to avoid naming an exact figure, but in the end I indicated a range. The offer states a salary slightly lower than my range - but it's still a pretty good offer. Instead, they're offering several neat extras.

I'm reluctant to accept based solely on this offer, I would feel more comfortable with a slightly higher salary. I would not like to come off as greedy, or seem like I'm just doing it for the money.

After receiving the offer, which expires by the end of this week, I immediately responded, thanking them for the offer and stating that I would have an answer for them by the end of the week.

Am I still in a position to counter-offer, or are the 'negotations' basically finished?

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    Small advice: you can really negotiate if you're in the position of walking away if the final offer is not enough for you. If you don't have alternatives, you're in a weaker position. – clabacchio Nov 26 '14 at 15:17
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    Remember - if the extras are neat, but you wouldn't really pay for them out of pocket, then they might as well not be included. It's not up to them to decide what neat things to spend your paycheck on. That said, if there things you -would- like anyway, then you're just saving money. Still waiting for a job that pays partly in Magic the Gathering packs... – corsiKa Nov 26 '14 at 16:06
  • If you got an offer with an expiration date then yes you are in a position to negotiate but that indicates they are not really considering this a going in or starting offer. Even if you get a few extra dollars they can just take it off on your first raise. – paparazzo Nov 26 '14 at 18:46
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    I'd assume if you gave them a range that's what you need. Yes, counter-offer. The last time I counter-offered, I declined to give a range, was offered 52k, asked for 56, got 55 and an extra week of vacation. You just have to be tactful, and justify it. I said something like "based on my previous experience, and that my previous experience is directly related to the role and I will require minimal training, etc." That being said, the fact that they offered less than your lower bound and perks may mean they want you, but can't afford what you said. – evandentremont Nov 27 '14 at 2:12
  • Was there any clue about salary range in the ad? – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 27 '14 at 13:11
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Am I still in a position to counter-offer, or are the 'negotations' basically finished?

Yes, you are still in a position to counter-offer.

Carefully consider their current offer, including all the neat extras, and everything else that makes up their complete package.

Think hard about what you need, and what you would like. They aren't the same.

Then decide if their offer is good enough or not. If it's good enough, accept and don't look back. If not, counter-offer.

Be prepared regarding what your response will be if they refuse to change their offer, or if they counter again with something in the middle. You don't want to extend the process by countering too many times, or you risk the company giving up and moving on.

Often these situations come down to accepting a pretty good offer, or attempting to negotiate for a slightly better but still pretty-good offer. Whenever you don't accept an offer outright, there's always a bit of a risk that you come across as greedy and are dropped from consideration. It doesn't seem like you have hit that boundary yet, since you haven't gone back-and-forth too many times, but you can never really know ahead of time. Only you can decide if it is worth this (probably minor) risk or not.

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    I'd agree with this, with the caveat that you are able to take the hit if they withdraw the offer. As Joe said in the answer, you don't seem to be at the boundary yet - but I've known an employer get fed up when a single offer wasn't accepted, as they felt the person was only chasing money – Jon Story Nov 26 '14 at 13:50
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    You offer some good advice. I will consider it some more, but I think I will follow your advice and take the offer if it's good enough as it is. I don't think the possible benefits outweigh the (albeit small) risk. I could take the hit if they withdraw, but I'd rather not pass up - it seems like a nice job. – PJStilton Nov 26 '14 at 14:15
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    @JonStory Unless you absolutely need it, a job with a company that will cancel an offer in response to a reasonable counter offer probably is one you're better off avoiding. It suggests that they're likely to be unreasonable with future raises as well. – Dan Neely Nov 26 '14 at 16:14
  • Indeed, and there's also a valid point that the more you need the job, the less likely you are to counter-offer anyway - most people negotiate harder when already secure – Jon Story Nov 26 '14 at 16:42
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Negotiations have just begun if the formal offer you received from the company was the company's first offer to you.

My response would be "Your offer is appreciated but I'm looking for a salary in the range of X and Y."

You informed them of your salary range during the interview and they made you an offer less than that. You will not appear greedy, you will appear credible.

  • Agreed. The first offer is not a final offer from them. Important to make sure you still have other options available before you commit to asking for more (as they might say no, and then you're screwed if you don't have other options). – James Nov 26 '14 at 13:01
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    I agree here though I would not even mention X but rather ask for something much closer to Y – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 26 '14 at 19:39
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To some extent I feel like this depends on what kind of employer this is. A small employer where the person in the interview likely was the one who determined the offer should be handled at least somewhat differently than a large company where the offer likely came from HR (with guidance from upper management) and the folks who interviewed you likely didn't have any say in it.

For a large employer, I'd encourage you to call the recruiter back and tell them:

I'm really excited to work for your company, and I think the position is a great one. I was however looking for a salary in the range X - Y. I'd like to know if there is some wiggle room on salary before making my final offer.

That's pretty laid back negotiating, so it's unlikely to put them off, but it will find out if there is some room to go (and larger companies often leave a little room on purpose knowing you may negotiate - you don't go in with your best offer right away after all). You're not telling them you won't accept the job if they don't counter, you're just finding out if there's a slightly higher salary available. If we're talking $88k vs $85k, this can work for that; if we're talking $88k vs $75k, this probably isn't the right approach.


For a small employer, you're a bit more likely to risk the job if you counter - but you can also take more care.

Hi, I was excited to see the job offer in my inbox yesterday. I noticed you offered me $X , which is a bit below what we discussed as my desired range.

Yeah, we only had room for $X in the budget right now; I hope that isn't a problem. I tried to include some extra perks to make up for that.

Totally understandable. Any chance we could start me with three weeks' vacation time instead of two? I doubt I'd use it but it would be nice to have just in case I get sick.

Sure, that's totally doable.

Something like that - feel out for more money, if it sounds like it's not possible then see if you can get a little extra perk. Especially when you put it like that (You did offer me less than my asking price...) you're likely to get a little extra perk or two if you're reasonable. Signing bonus, money for school, extra vacation time, all of that is often easier to do than extra salary.


In either of these cases, the request isn't zero risk - but nothing is, and I think you can manage your risk carefully if you make an effort to be very polite. Don't leave yourself regretting in a year working for an otherwise great job because the salary isn't what you feel it could have been. Also don't forget that if the company really likes you and you're a good fit for the job, they don't want to risk losing you - of course this depends on how many people they likely can find for a job like yours (which you don't specify), but this isn't a one way street.

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    In my case it is a small employer, and the interviewer is the owner. After some consideration, it looks like the offer is pretty good as it is. He also included a paragraph (our communication has been pretty informal) explaining why the offer was below my range. This makes me feel like the offer is already 'stretched' as it is, by offering all the perks he can, instead of raising salary. – PJStilton Nov 26 '14 at 15:37
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    Ah, that paragraph is relevant to me - yes, it does indicate he's addressing that issue in advance. (That said, it also probably means he really wants you!) – Joe Nov 26 '14 at 16:38
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A couple of thoughts:

  • They asked for your range and offered something below that. That tells me they're negotiating. If they weren't interested in negotiating, they would have either offered you something in your range or not offer at all.
  • They may not believe that you are the perfect candidate for their position. In my history as a hiring manager, I would always make an offer in their range, usually above the lower bound, if they were a great fit.
  • Consider the entire package, especially the benefits and their cost. Even $5k salary bump works out to less than $100 weekly before taxes. That may not be worth the risk of losing the opportunity if everything else aligns well.
  • If they offer any kind of company match to a retirement plan, think of that as an instant bump. That kind of bump doesn't require negotiations at all. Just discipline to put that amount away.

Have two numbers in mind before negotiating. One is your take-it-without-further-discussion number. The other is your walk-away-from-the-table number. Everything in between is your negotiation zone. Good luck!

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In my view you should always, without exception, ask for more money when given a job offer. It is very unlikely that they have given the highest figure they will countenance in the first offer and phenomenally unlikely to withdraw the offer in the face of a request for more money. The realistic worst that can happen is that they refuse to go higher and then you can decide whether to accept or not.

You can usually get one to two thousand more in salary by doing this. Remember that this is probably the best negotiating position for salary you will get; take advantage of it.

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