Should you always counter offer salary?

Quick answer

There is no definitive yes or no answer to whether you should always counter offer salary. There are pros and cons to countering a job offer that need to be weighed carefully for each situation. While negotiating can lead to a higher salary, it does risk the possibility of offending the employer and losing the job offer altogether. Candidates need to consider factors like the job market, their skills and experience, the employer’s original offer, and their overall interest in the role and company. With the right approach, countering a job offer can be an effective strategy for increasing salary, but it’s not necessarily the right choice every time.

Should you negotiate salary for every job offer?

Negotiating salary for every job offer you receive may not always be the best approach. Here are some key considerations when deciding if you should counter:

– Current job market – If jobs are scarce, you have less leverage to negotiate and may need to accept an initial offer. When the job market is stronger, you may have more options to find a higher salary.

– Your experience level – Entry-level and junior candidates usually have less ability to negotiate strongly compared to senior candidates with in-demand skills.

– Company pay structure – Some companies have rigid pay scales or grids that limit flexibility in offers. Getting them to exceed a set salary band can be challenging.

– Interest in job/company – If it’s your dream job or an ideal company, you may opt not to negotiate to avoid jeopardizing the opportunity.

– Existing offer – If the initial offer already meets your salary needs and expectations, you may accept without countering.

– Hiring manager relationship – Strong existing rapport with the hiring manager provides a better foundation to negotiate tactfully.

Pros of countering a job offer

There are some solid advantages that can come from countering a job offer rather than accepting the employer’s initial salary proposal:

– Increase starting salary – Successful negotiation can lead to thousands more in annual starting pay.

– Leverage your value – Negotiating allows you to assert your skills, experience and value to get paid appropriately.

– Establish your worth – Countering demonstrates you know your worth and expect fair compensation.

– Gain respect – Employers often expect negotiation and showing you can handle it with poise can build respect.

– Improve offer – Beyond salary, you may be able to enhance other parts of the offer by countering (e.g. more vacation time).

– Learn to negotiate – It builds negotiation skills that will serve you well when asking for raises and promotions.

Cons of countering a job offer

However, there are also some potential downsides to watch out for if you decide to counter a job offer:

– Offending employer – Aggressive or unreasonable counters can damage goodwill with the employer.

– Losing offer – There is a risk the employer rescinds the offer altogether if you counter.

– Limited options – If you have few other prospects, countering an already fair offer may backfire.

– Delay start date – Negotiation can prolong the hiring process and push back a start date.

– Dissatisfaction – Even getting more money may lead to being dissatisfied later if you demanded too much.

– Salary envy – Co-workers aware you negotiated more could resent you for setting higher pay expectations.

– Employer budget – Some companies have strict compensation budgets that limit their ability to increase offers.

Tips for countering a job offer

If you decide countering is the right choice, use these tips to increase your chances of success:

– Have a number in mind based on market research of typical pay for the role and your experience. Aim for a reasonable increase.

– Be polite. Express appreciation for the offer and positive interest in the company.

– Explain the basis for your counter professionally, avoiding ultimatums. Share relevant details on your skills and accomplishments.

– Be flexible. Consider suggesting alternative terms besides just salary (e.g. performance bonus, extra vacation, flexible work arrangements).

– Get the details in writing if the company agrees to amend their offer. Don’t accept a verbal commitment only.

– Express enthusiasm about the opportunity and convey you hope to move forward together.

– Have a bottom line but avoid framing it as a take it or leave it demand.

– Be prepared to accept the initial offer if your counter is declined. Withdrawing altogether could burn bridges.

When is countering a job offer appropriate?

In general, countering a job offer is likely to be appropriate if:

– You have strong qualifications that exceed the typical requirements for the role.

– Research indicates the initial salary offer is below average market rate for this position.

– You have other job options that give you leverage in the negotiation.

– The hiring manager has indicated there may be flexibility in the offer.

– You performed strongly in the interviews and assessment, giving you added value.

– The company has a track record of negotiating offers with candidates.

– You are extremely interested in the job and company so a slightly higher salary demand won’t deter you.

When should you avoid countering a job offer?

On the other hand, situations where avoiding negotiations may be prudent include:

– The offer already aligns with your target salary expectations.

– You have minimal professional experience related to this role.

– You have no competing job offers to provide negotiation leverage.

– The job market is highly competitive with many applicants for few openings.

– You sense the company has strict compensation policies offering little flexibility.

– You performed just adequately in your interviews rather than exceptionally.

– Further delays in hiring could cause significant hardship for you financially.

– The hiring manager seems sensitive, so a counter could rub them the wrong way.

– You are unsure of typical salary norms for this particular position.

What’s the best way to counter a job offer?

When preparing to counter a job offer, your strategy and approach can greatly impact your results. Follow these best practices:

– Consult online salary data to target a reasonable counter number grounded in market rates.

– Preface your counter by expressing appreciation for the offer and enthusiasm about the job.

– Present your counter professionally in writing, highlighting key factors that support your case.

– Remain flexible. Ask about other perks besides just salary that could improve the overall offer.

– If your counter is declined, avoid giving an ultimatum. Request time to consider the original offer.

– Send a polite follow-up message after negotiating. Thank the employer and reiterate your interest.

– Negotiate in good faith. Don’t make demands you wouldn’t be satisfied accepting.

– Decline tactfully if negotiating still does not result in an offer that meets your needs.

What mistakes should you avoid when countering?

Here are some key mistakes to avoid so your job offer negotiation does not backfire:

– Making unrealistic demands exceeding reasonable salary norms.

– Presenting your counter as a rigid take it or leave it ultimatum.

– Negotiating from a purely self-interested standpoint rather than showing interest in the company.

– Skipping researching typical salaries, relying on guesstimates.

– Making threats about going elsewhere or stalling on signing their offer.

– Neglecting to express appreciation for the original offer before countering.

– Arguing excessively or growing defensive if your counter is declined.

– Making exaggerated claims about the value you will bring to persuade them.

– Approaching negotiation like a battle or zero sum game.

– Failing to read cues from the interviewers on their flexibility.

– Revealing your desired salary or bottom line too early before hearing their offer.

Should you provide a salary history when countering an offer?

Opinions vary on whether you should disclose your salary history when trying to negotiate a higher job offer. Potential pros and cons include:


– It provides context on how the new offer compares to your existing earnings.

– Straightforward transparency about prior compensation can build trust.

– Your salary growth trajectory helps demonstrate your capabilities.


– It gives the employer data to limit how much they need to increase their offer.

– Past lower salaries can unfairly anchor their perception of your value.

– Some advocate that salary history perpetuates pay inequity.

– Disclosing prior pay is optional and declining does not mean hiding something.

There are reasonable points on both sides. Providing limited select elements of your salary history strategically in a negotiation may sometimes help, but avoid revealing overly detailed history before knowing their offer.

How much should you counter offer above their initial salary offer?

When making a counter offer for a higher salary, a reasonable rule of thumb is:

– Shoot for 10-20% above their initial offer if you are already in that salary range. Avoid going drastically higher.

– For more junior roles, aim for the 15-20% side, as entry-level salaries tend to have wider bands.

– For higher salary ranges over $100k, target 10-15% to avoid seeming out of touch.

– Consider anything above 20% a fairly assertive counter Warrant
– Justify anything more than 20% with compelling evidence of strong qualifications and higher market rates.

– Focus more on aiming for fair overall compensation than on percents. Support your case with salary research.

– Keep the conversation friendly. Present your counter professionally, not as a demand.

Sample salary negotiation email templates

When countering a job offer over email, your wording matters. Here are two sample email templates to negotiate salary tactfully:

**Example 1**

Subject: John Smith – Accountant Role Salary Discussion

Dear [Hiring Manager],

Thank you again for the offer to join [Company] as an Accountant. I am thrilled about the opportunity and appreciate that we share an enthusiasm for the work.

In reviewing the offer details, I was hoping we could discuss the salary component further. Based on my previous experience managing complex ledgers and delivering audits aligned to GAAP standards, I was targeting a salary in the range of $[higher number] annually. I am flexible on finding creative solutions for overall compensation however, as my priority is finding the right fit.

Please let me know your thoughts on whether there may be room for adjustment there. I look forward to determining our next steps and joining your terrific team!

Best regards,
[Your name]

**Example 2**

Subject: Salary Discussion for [Job Title] Role

Dear [Hiring Manager],

I wanted to follow up on our conversations for the [job title] position. I am thrilled you see me as a fit for this opportunity, and I certainly am excited about the prospect of contributing my skills in [key area] to your team.

In regards to the salary offer of $[initial offer], I was hoping after considering my [number] years in [field] and expertise in [key skill], that you may be able to increase the offer to $[ideal counter]. I know budgets can be tight, but I am confident my experience would provide great value in this role that could merit a higher salary.

Please let me know if there may be some flexibility in the compensation package. I’m committed to finding a solution that works for both of us. I look forward to further discussions and determining next steps.

[Your name]

How to negotiate salary over the phone

If asked to provide a salary counter offer over the phone or in a live discussion rather than email, keep these tips in mind:

– Thank them for the offer and express enthusiasm for the role.

– Ask them to share their perspective first on how they determined the initial salary.

– Provide context on your experience and the value you offer, framed through their needs.

– Cite objective salary data to support your counter request, not just a random number.

– Use an upbeat, friendly tone. Avoid sounding adversarial.

– After making your counter pitch, ask if they may be able to go higher. But don’t make demands.

– If they decline, inquire if other parts of the offer like bonus or equity are open to discussion.

– Request time to consider if you need to determine next steps after a counter is rejected.

– Follow up after with a recap of key points covered and next steps by email.


Whether or not to counter a job offer is usually a case-by-case decision. While negotiating carries risks, countering professionally and reasonably can lead to increasing your salary, especially when you have strong qualifications and leverage. Avoid unrealistic demands, frame your counter based on objective market data, and focus on finding a positive solution for both parties. With the right approach, countering offers a chance to advocate for fair pay while demonstrating valuable negotiation skills.

Leave a Comment