The best time to negotiate your salary, whether in person or email, is after you’ve impressed your potential employer but before you sign their offer.
Since most companies will send a job offer via email first, that’s your best moment of opportunity to discuss the terms of their compensation package.
Yes, the HR manager or whoever is assigned to discuss your salary may balk at first. It’s in their best interest to pay you less, of course. Not that they want to trick you, it’s just part of their job. Expect initial reactions like,
“I’m glad to hear you like the prospect of working with us. Unfortunately, the base salary we offered you is the budget we have for this position.”
You might think there’s no room for negotiation. Don’t back down yet. Stay polite and enthusiastic, while negotiating your salary. You’re here to negotiate, not to back down after your first attempt. So read on and keep the communication lines open.
In this guide, learn how to negotiate a job offer via email, get a higher salary and better compensation packed into your new job offer, or other tangible benefits like more vacation time or a signing bonus. All it takes is a bit of strategy and well-chosen wording. We have examples included below with a number of salary negotiation email templates to put to use.
Before jumping into this guide, learn time-saving email strategies in our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery (grab it now for free):
Now, let's look at overall tactics and salary negotiation tips to get started. Regardless of the situation, there are some best practices to consider.
Quick Start Negotiate Your Salary Video
Do you want to jump into learning about email salary negotiations quickly? Why not start with the video below? You'll find some tips on asking for a higher salary that you can really use. Plus, there's examples of salary negotiation through email that you can use as a template for your own negotiation.
Do you want even more email salary negatiation examples and tips? Keep reading for a more in-depth discussion.
Email vs Phone or In-Person: Which Is Better According to the Situation?
Remember that you shouldn’t negotiate right after receiving the initial offer. That suggests you’re asking for more money, without stopping to think twice about what they’re offering you.
Give yourself some time to reflect on their offer. Most companies will allow you time to review their offer anyway. Use this time to scrutinize every inch of the compensation package—from the base salary, all the way to the benefits and incentives.
As for which communication medium is better for salary negotiation, there’s no one correct answer.
Kristin Scarth, Career Services Manager at Employment BOOST says,
“We always advise clients not to have difficult conversations via email. Things get interpreted the wrong way too easily, so we ask them to just talk in-person or on the phone so nothing is taken the wrong way. Besides, when you’re talking, you can sense how receptive the other line is to what you’re saying”
But that’s just one point of view. Pierre Tremblay, Director of Human Resources at Dupray says,
“Negotiating over email is better for the candidate because it gives them time to be composed. Bad decisions and awkward situations usually derive out of circumstances where one party feels stressed. Asking for more money over the phone is awkward. But email gives you the ability and time to compose your thoughts into a coherent argument.”
And some of the commenters on this post about negotiating salary via email seem to agree:
Another commenter said that some employers seem to prefer email communications, especially if they send your first job offer via email. In that case, negotiating via email—their preferred communication medium—works well.
Consider your strengths and the hiring circumstances with this new employer to decide if negotiating your salary via email is the best fit for your unique situation.
Compensation Is More Than Your Base Salary (Other Perks to Negotiate)
Sometimes, there’s little to no room for negotiating the base salary. It could be due to budget constraints, corporate pay grade levels, or legacy employees. If that’s the case, do your best to negotiate a higher base salary first. Then move on to other negotiable items in your compensation package.
Just remember, there aren’t clear tradeoffs or equal conversions for many of these benefits or incentives. For example, work from home benefits may or may not be equal to a $3,000 lower base salary. An early salary review may or may not be equal to 5 more vacation days, too. It all depends on your priorities.
Here’s a list of benefits you can negotiate:
- Company stocks
- More vacation leave
- More sick leave
- Travel privileges
- Training allowance or career development stipend
- Early performance review
- Company car
- Signing bonus
- Relocation allowance or assistance
- Tuition reimbursement
- Training certifications
- Child care
- Gym memberships
- Expense account
Don’t Ask for the Sun, Moon, and the Stars
How to negotiate a salary effectively takes some consideration and care. There’s a lot you can ask for. But don’t be greedy. Remember that you’ll be working with these people soon, so don’t make them feel like you’re taking advantage.
Attorney James Goodnow, Personal Injury Lawyer at Fennemore Craig and negotiation expert, says
“Beyond economic factors, the person with whom you’re in negotiation with must feel validated. Indicate that you understand his or her position. Remember: if someone feels annoyed by you, or questions your negotiation, they will likely be less inclined to work with you. That’s not the way you want to begin a relationship.”
Not all aspects of the job offer are negotiable. For instance, if the company doesn’t offer child care or day care allowance, then your chances of getting one are low. The reality is the perks you can get depend on several factors, including the seniority of the job you’re applying for, the company’s corporate structure, and their budget. Keep in mind, your best source on what and how much is negotiable is an inside source if you can cultivate one.
Salary Negotiation Email Examples
Now let's look at examples of of salary negotiation emails to help you start your new job with better compensation.
Here are template scripts to follow for asking for a higher salary from a few different negotiation positions. There are also salary negotiation email examples on asking for a better job title and signing bonus.
Follow these templates to improve your results. Be sure to use them as an example to work from and tweak them to fit your unique situation best.
1. Request for a Salary Requirement Email
Much of my career has been in
(industry), and the skills I’ve learned from this line of work directly apply to the skills in (target job).
I know I can contribute well to your team, and I welcome the chance to prove it to you.
As requested, my expected salary is ($_______) excluding benefits and incentives. That’s based on the job description and the average annual salary for this position. My requirements are negotiable, depending on several factors, such as improved career advancement and training opportunities.”
2. Negotiating Based on Salary Market Data
Thank you for offering me the job of
(position) at (Company Name). The job description is a perfect fit with my experience and career goals. I’m also excited to be part of your company’s plans for growth.
I’d love to discuss the base salary, before signing your offer. The
(X years of experience) and
(Y skills), which I have. But based on my contributions to previous employers, and the average salary for this position, I respectfully ask you to consider your initial offer of
The average annual salary for this position in our industry ranges from
($_________) so I believe an offer of
($_________) will be more in line with my qualifications and the demands of this position.
Thank you again for your offer. I’m sure we can come to an agreement that’s beneficial for both of us.
Be careful though, “applicants often confuse ongoing market rates with the job responsibilities”, says Scarth.
“If you managed 50 people at your prior job, and the new job is managing 5 people, how can you go back and ask for more money? Market rates only offer a mean average, they don’t tell the 100% truth,” she continues.
If you’re going to use this strategy, make sure you have a compelling “why” to go along with your request.
3. Received a Higher Offer From a Different Company
Use this tactic only if you’re prepared to walk away. And only if you truly have another offer and are not just in talks with the company.
Here’s an email template from Michelle Riklan, Certified Resume Writer and Managing Director at Riklan Resources:
“Thank you for offering me the
(position). I’m excited to work with your team.
I would like to discuss the base salary before I accept your offer. While your company is my first choice, I’ve received another offer with a higher base salary of
Still, I’m more interested to work with your team and would readily accept your offer if you could match this base salary. I appreciate that this amount may be over your initial budget, but I’m flexible and willing to negotiate with you to come up with a solution that benefits both of us.
I’m confident that I will contribute greatly to your team, and hope that we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
This email signifies your eagerness to work with the first company and openness to negotiate. In this scenario, it’s possible that you’ll need to negotiate other perks in lieu of a higher base pay.
4. Total Compensation Not Enough Based on Job Scope
Sometimes, you’ll find out that the job description isn’t 100% accurate after several interviews. In this case, the initial job offer might be lower than what is appropriate given the job scope or skills required.
Thank you for giving me the chance to work as your new
(position). I welcome this challenge and look forward to working with you.
However, I have some concerns regarding the compensation package you sent me. After several rounds of interviews, I’ve come to realize that the actual job is a bit far from the initial job description I read when applying.
While I have the skills and experience to do well in this role, given the amount of work expected of me, I feel that the initial offer is a bit too small. The position I’ll have is challenging because
(reasons 1 and 2), so it will require someone committed and experienced in this field.
Because of this, I believe the current offer will better suit the job’s demands if it’s increased by
(amount to be added).
I hope we can come to an agreement about this matter. Can we discuss it on our next meeting? Feel free to email or contact me so we can discuss this at a convenient time. Thank you for your consideration.”
5. Negotiating Using Your Skills or Previous Performance
This situation is the opposite of the previous one. In this case, your skills or previous performance are more than what’s required of the job. In short, you’re overqualified but they still like you for the position. You can use this to negotiate a higher pay, better career advancement opportunities, or an early salary review.
Here’s an email template based on Josh Doody’s work, Author of Fearless Salary Negotiation:
I hope you had a great weekend!
I've been considering
(Recruiting Manager’s) offer over the weekend and everything sounds good, although I would like to discuss the base salary component.
I think I'm a particularly good match for this position, where I would add significant value to
(Company) from day one. I have a strong
(skill) background and have built and managed teams of
(industry) people. I am exceptionally good with clients, and have taught short courses on building rapport with and managing clients. I have a
(degree or specialization) and have successfully managed many portfolios of business in the
(industry name) over the past
I've been working with
(Employer) for over
(X years), and have experience with many of their partnership managers and leadership team.
All of these qualities contribute directly to the core components of this particular position, and that's why I'm excited for the opportunity to work with
of potential boss) offered
($_____) and I would be more comfortable if we could settle on
($_______). I feel that amount reflects the importance and expectations of the position for
(Company Name), and my qualifications and experience as they relate to this particular position.
Thanks for your time, and I look forward to talking with you on (
Date and time of next
interview or call).
All the best,
6. Asking for a Better Job Title
Job titles matter, if you consider the future with your new employer and take your career path seriously. So don’t be shy about asking for a better one.
The smaller the company, the better chances you have of getting a better job title. Startups, especially, aren’t too picky when it comes to job titles. When it comes to bigger companies, it pays to ask but don’t get your hopes up.
Scott Ledbury, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Slinky Productions says,
“Ask your boss to define your job role and description, including how it relates to the whole company’s hierarchy. Get this document in writing, if possible. This will make it easier for your boss to see what you do on a daily basis, and how a more fitting job title affects your contributions to the company as a whole.”
Emphasize how a more accurate job title will help you coordinate and set expectations better with other departments and clients. Don’t frame the request in such a way that it's all about your resume and career progression—as that’s not what they’re interested in.
Here’s an email template from Attorney Goodnow, which highlights the benefits of a different job title from the employer’s point of view:
“Thank you again for the offer. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about the possibility of working with you and your team. I hope to have an answer back to you by the end of tomorrow.
Quick question: is the job title set in stone?
Although I understand why the current title exists, I was wondering as I read through the job description if a different title that fit the bill a bit better would be possible?
I certainly don’t want to be difficult, but I think having the title match the position and its responsibilities would help appropriately reflect my duties—and add clarity about the role internally and externally.”
7. Signing Bonus Email Example
What if, moving to another company can lose you money? It happens more than you’d expect. Employees stand to lose annual bonuses, year-end bonuses, performance bonuses, and even Christmas bonuses upon leaving their current employer.
Is that money lost for good? Not really. Use this template to get all or part of that money—from your would-be employer.
Thank you for giving me the chance to work in
(Company) as your
(position). I’m thrilled at the prospect of working with such a promising team.
Before I accept your offer, I would like to discuss the compensation package. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the base salary and I think it’s in-line with the job description and average market salary. However, I’m due to receive
(bonus or incentive name) from my current employer this year.
Transitioning to work with a new company would cost me
($__________), an amount I worked hard for throughout this year. So to make this transition easier, I would like to request a signing bonus of
(50-60% of what you’re supposed to receive) to partly recuperate the amount I am set to lose.
I see a bright future at
(Company), and I know I can make significant contributions to your team.
Thank you again for this opportunity. I hope we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
You’re only going to ask for 50% to 60% of what you’re supposed to get. That’s to make your future employer feel that you’re not giving them 100% of the burden. Just negotiate for the rest of what you’re going to lose in terms of vacation leaves and other non-monetary incentives.
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Negotiate With Care
All these salary negotiation email templates have one thing in common: they’re not demanding. The tone is polite and somewhat curious.
Keep in mind, you’re trying to open a conversation, with the attitude that your future employer isn’t out to trick you. You want to make a reasonable request while aiming for a professional outcome.
Finally, when everything is to your liking, make sure it’s all included in your new contract. Happy negotiating!
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in 2016. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant. We've added a video to make this information even more accessible.