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I have recently completed the interview process with a new employer. Tomorrow, they will call me to discuss the offer.

However, I think I would be at a disadvantage in a real-time conversation. I have done some research, but this position is the first of its kind on this team, so there's no direct salary information available. The company is very successful, so I believe they can offer well above generic market rate. So this brings me to my questions:

a) How do I tactfully move the conversation from phone to email? Do I just say "let me think about it" or should I give some kind of tacit acceptance/assurance?

b) When should I try and do this? Should I attempt to negotiate on the phone and put my cards on the table first, or just go as far as necessary to get some kind of number, and counter-offer only in email?

c) Should I do this at all or is a live negotiation actually beneficial somehow?

  • "Should I give some kind of tacit acceptance/assurance" - No, be direct. Answer "yes" if the offer is acceptable or "let me think about it" if you're not sure or need extra time to respond appropriately. – Brandin Feb 22 '17 at 7:58
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There's no need for "real time negotiations". You likely won't be expected to give an on-the-spot answer. But since their offer will be via telephone, you should keep the counter-offer and acceptance/rejection by telephone as well.

First you need to have some idea of what salary you want for the role. You must have this in mind before you discuss an offer. And since you have completed the interview process, there's no excuse not to already have the basics firm in your mind now.

Second, you already believe that they can offer "well above generic market rate", so you must already have some sense of what that is.

For tomorrow, be ready to listen to their offer, and ask any clarifying questions for which you need answers in order to decide to accept or reject the offer. You probably want to know about bonuses, benefits, etc. and not just solely about the salary.

And it's always reasonable to say "I would like to think about this and get back to you with an answer [tomorrow, or at most a few days from now.]" In my case I always say "I'll need to discuss this with my wife first." - you can use that if it applies in your case.

But I wouldn't try to force this into a set of back-and-forth emails. Call them back at the appropriate time and talk on the phone if the initial offer was made via phone.

If you want to reject the initial offer, be ready with a counter-offer. And then, they may need to think about it and get back to you.

At some point, the offer will be acceptable to both parties, or you will conclude that you can't meet in the middle and will walk away.

  • Do you mean - I should think about the offer, then call them back with a counter-offer, then they think about the counter-offer and call me back to tell me, and so on? – SPavel Feb 21 '17 at 2:12
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I find it easier to negotiate over email. It takes the emotion out of it and lets you think over what they are offering without pressure. It also leaves a written record of the discussion.

You could tell them you will be "in and out of meetings all day" and will be hard to reach by phone, so email is preferred. Of course, they may then ask you to specify a time they can call, or have you call them when it is convenient. Some people really prefer the phone. In which case you will probably have to do the first call over the phone.

If you are planning to take the call, know that you don't have to accept right away. It is perfectly acceptable to tell them you need some time to think it over. Employers realize that changing jobs is a big deal and that a person will need time to think about it (if they try and pressure you to accept right away, consider whether or not that's the type of company you want to work for). Be sure to thank them for the offer and tell them that you are still interested/excited for the opportunity. After taking the call, you can give your response by email and continue the discussion that way.

Good luck!

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