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I just received my job offer letter and when I looked at the salary being offered to me, it is for what I stated during my pre-screen call. $85K. When I talked to the recruiter I honestly wasn't thinking about the job since I did not expect a phone call back so quickly.

I really like the job because it is going to allow me to grow some technical skills that I do not currently have. The benefits at the company is incredible. I am truly happy about it, but my wife think I should ask for more. The one problem is I will have to drive an 1hr and 30 minutes to work every day. I was thinking about asking for $90K.

Would this look bad if I go back and ask for more money? I do not want to come off as greedy since I really do want this job. In addition, I do not want to come off as I do not know my value either.

Lastly, the recruiter told me that they have been looking for a candidate for a year now. Maybe this can help me get the job at $90k.

  • Yes. She asked me once what was my salary requirements, I said 85K just because I wasnt thinking // prepared and that was it. – Ethical Kid Nov 30 '15 at 13:17
  • Joe - this has been a very strange process. the recruiter called and told me they wanted to extend the offer. She never mentioned the salary they were offering me. She asked me to send her a pay stub and then reiterated my salary expectations of 85K – Ethical Kid Nov 30 '15 at 13:23
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    Had you made the commute during your expected work hours? You might be able to say that you need to reconsider the $85k salary requirement that you previously stated, after having a better understanding of the commute. – Joe Dec 1 '15 at 17:07
  • Quick note (but this won't really help you now): you never specify a number but generally ballpark a range (85K-100K for instance). You should also never provide pay stubs or mention your current salary as it's no one's business but your own. If asked for that information just dodge the question by instead giving them the range you're looking for. Caveat: there are a few exceptions to this rule (India might be one), but the US certainly isn't, even though it's a common question.. – Lilienthal Dec 1 '15 at 22:56
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This is a little tricky, as they gave you the amount you requested. You most likely low-balled yourself, and they jumped to offer you a lower figure than they were expecting to pay out.

Now here's the deal: a company will always seek to pay as little as possible for an employee - it's just good business.

You've already made a big mistake by showing your hand. They know what you were "hoping for", and have offered it to you. When you go back to the negotiating table to ask for more they'll probably be thinking this:

Ethical Kid got what he wanted, and now he's trying to shake us up for more. Just refuse him, you know he's gonna take it anyway.

In the future always ask for more than you're expecting to receive, that way you'll be able to compromise on a lower figure without actually accepting less than you'd like.

Back to your current predicament, I'm sorry to say your chances aren't good.

There's two approaches you can take:

1. Be aggressive

If they really want you, you have a much higher chance of getting what you want by being prepared to walk away, and showing it. Here's what you'd write back:

I was very happy to receive your offer. Unfortunately, however, I cannot accept it as it currently stands. I feel that based on the market average, as well as my own qualifications a salary of at least 90K would be more than fair.

Now keep in mind .. this is written off the top of my head. You'll want to refine it and get it to feel both like you're ready to walk away, but also not overly pushy.

2. Be polite and hope for the best

If you really want the job regardless of that extra 5K then you want to be polite about requesting more money, because you're not willing to walk away.

Thank you very much for your offer. I was very glad to receive it, however, I would like to inquire as to whether you would be willing to increase the salary to 90K. I look forward to your reply.

The worst thing that can happen is that they refuse, at which point you have to decide whether to take it or leave it.

Good luck!

  • +1 I like this answer, realistically the OP has very little chance since they already know he'll take the job for 85K. – Kilisi Nov 30 '15 at 7:36
  • Thank you all so much! This is a tough decision. I think the only thing that I have going for me in getting 90K is the fact that they have been looking for a candidate for a year now. Let me know your thoughts. – Ethical Kid Nov 30 '15 at 11:44
  • @EthicalKid - I'd keep it polite then. Maybe even don't specify the amount the first time you contact them, simply say "I'd love to accept, however I feel that the compensation is a little below market average. (if it isn't you might want to change that to something else) Would you be willing to offer a higher salary, or a signing bonus? Who knows? They might offer you more than 90K. If they come back saying no, they might still offer you some other benefits or more vacation days to sweeten the deal. I would definitely mention a signing bonus. Good luck! – AndreiROM Nov 30 '15 at 14:09
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If the recruiter is not an employee of the company, he or she is likely receives compensation that is a percentage of your starting salary. Even though they are working for the company, it's in their best interest for your pay to be higher. This is just one of many such conflicts of interest you will encounter in life (real estate, insurance agent, etc.).

A good employer understands the high cost of turnover, and wants its employees to stick around long term. This means paying market prices, not low-balling people for short term benefit. Can you substantiate that the position (and factoring your experience) is worth $90k? Maybe use a current job posting for something similar, or a good salary survey if you can find one. I agree that the position being open for so long (and apparently not located near prospective employees) should work in your favor.

I suggest talking to the recruiter and sharing your thoughts on the market value of the position. Bring some solid data on the market value to the discussion - this will be more powerful than "I think I should make more". A higher starting salary may make the long commute more tolerable. Let the recruiter earn that commission by being the go-between with the employer.

  • Thank you so much, MJulmer! She is a contractor that works for the company. I am going to ask for 90K and mention that I will be earning my MBA soon, knowledge of the current system, and national average. – Ethical Kid Nov 30 '15 at 12:35
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It sounds like the company is eager to hire you, so that gives you some advantages, even though they exactly met your salary (I would have expected them to offer you slightly more if they are eager to hire you.) If it were me, I'd call back and ask to discuss the job offer. There are various components: work environment, potential for advancement, salary, hiring bonus, annual raises, annual bonuses, benefits package, commute time, working hours, etc. In the call, say that you are looking forward to working for them, that you are confident you will be a good contributor to them, but that you are hesitant because of the commute distance. See if they will sweeten the deal for you, and mention an extra $5/year, a hiring bonus, shifted work hours (when traffic is lighter), etc.

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