Anatomy of a Salary Negotiation Letter

So you got a job offer. Congratulations! But it’s not yet time to celebrate. You first must negotiate the terms of your compensation. Negotiation is expected; the salary offered is usually only in the midrange, at most. When an offer is first made, don’t accept—or counter—just yet. Thank the interviewer and express your interest in the job and the company, but ask for some time to consider the details.

Presenting a counteroffer in a letter is considered acceptable. Whether you state your position in writing or in person, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Be sure you’ve researched the fair market value for the job, the salary range for this employer, and any geographic, economic, industry, and company-specific factors that might affect the salary.

Start with your sincere interest in the company, and thank the employer for the job offer. Follow up with your key selling points—how you will make a direct and immediate (as well as long-term) impact on the organization.

Restate the points from the original offer that you want to negotiate, followed by your counterproposal.
For example, “I have researched the industry norms for the position of sales associate, and I believe that a salary of [$__] is more in line with industry standards and the experience and knowledge that I would bring to the job.”

Ask for a higher salary than you’re expecting, so the employer’s counterproposal will more closely match your original target, but don’t play hardball, as these are people you may be working with.

Next, negotiate benefits and perks like bonuses or commissions, profit sharing, health-care plans, vacation, and relocation expenses, but focus only on the areas that are key to accepting the job. Pick your battles. Otherwise, you may come off as too demanding, and the offer may be removed from the table.

In wrapping up, reiterate how excited you are to start the job. If you presented your counterproposal in writing, request a meeting so you can talk about the negotiation in more detail. And don’t forget to close the deal with a handshake!

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