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How to Counter a Job Offer

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Imagine you’ve been offered your dream job, but not your dream salary. Don’t be too hasty to walk away from the opportunity. By making a counter offer, you may be able to negotiate the terms of an offer that leaves both you and your new employer happy and ready to start a new professional relationship.

Why You Might Counter a Job Offer

If you have a job offer from a prospective employer you’re not satisfied with, you may wish to make a counter offer setting out your preferred salary and terms. You may also make a counter offer to your existing employer if you’re given a promotion but don’t agree with the new compensation being offered. In some situations, the counter offer is made by the employer, not the employee. If you've received an offer from another organization, your employer may offer you more money or incentives to stay with them.

Is Salary Negotiable?

Salary is definitely negotiable, but over half of people don’t try to get more money when they’re offered a new job. This may be because they feel uncomfortable asking for more money, are worried that the offer will be rescinded if they ask for more money or because they don’t want to seem greedy. However, many companies expect candidates to make a counter offer, so you should take full advantage of that initial offer period to negotiate the terms of the position to best meet your needs.

How to Counter a Job Offer Salary

Before you even start to negotiate, do your research. You want to go into the meeting knowing your value and the industry rate for your position. This helps you make a strong case for a higher salary. The employer already knows you’re the right person for the job, but it won’t do any harm to remind them of your experience, qualifications and skills.

In order to appear prepared and well informed, keep certain things in mind: the salary discussions that have already taken place, the market rate for your particular role, how much you currently earn, how much you need this job and how many similar positions are available at other companies. If you negotiate too aggressively, the employer may withdraw the job offer, leaving you back at square one. It's best to take a softer approach. Ask if there is any flexibility in their offered salary. If that’s not an option when you start the job, it may be something that can be agreed for the near future. Perks may be available in lieu of a salary increase that make the position more attractive and beneficial to you. Don't be in a rush to reject offers of perks like tuition reimbursement, work-from-home days and health care, as these can have real monetary value.

Throughout the process, remember why you're negotiating. Be realistic about what you're worth. If you get into the situation where you're negotiating as a power play, it's unlikely to end well. If you get an offer you're satisfied with, it's better to accept it than to keep pushing for more and risk riling your new employer.

If you successfully counter your job offer, congratulations. But remember to ask for the terms of your agreement in writing. Paperwork with the relevant details of your negotiations in terms of salary and benefits should be in your hands before you start the job.


Claire Gillespie is a writer and editor with experience in law, business and PR. She has written about careers for many websites, including SheKnows and Reader's Digest.

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