Know Your Worth, Salaries, Salary Transparency

Negotiating Over Email? Here’s Exactly What to Write to Get Top Dollar

First, congratulations. You’ve received an offer! Now, the more difficult news: the job search process isn’t quite over yet. It’s time to think over the offer, compare it with your other options, and most importantly: negotiate. 

If you’ve just received a job offer, especially if it was over email, crafting a quick message is a way to strike while the iron is hot for a salary negotiation. To get the inside scoop on getting top dollar through an email negotiation, we reached out to Lewis C. Lin, CEO of Impact Interview, an executive coaching practice that provides interview coaching for job seekers.

As a general matter, Lin advises “it’s best to keep your salary negotiation emails polite, professional, and direct. You want to demonstrate that you are thoughtful and organized, and you want to respect your supervisor’s time.” He also recommends striking a tone of thankfulness for the opportunity you’ve been given, and avoiding taking a pushy or entitled tone. 

“It’s best to keep your salary negotiation emails, polite, professional, and direct,” Lin says. 

As to the specifics – here’s exactly how to respond to the offer you’ve received: 

Step 1: Thank the employer for the offer

The hiring manager needs to know that you’re genuinely excited and grateful to take this offer. The language most appropriate to use in this part email is phrases about working together. You are excited about working together at this company. You are also looking forward to working together to find a salary and benefits package that is suitable for both of you. You can even restate the offer in the terms they put it, using a sentence like “I am very grateful for your offer of [salary], but…” 

Step 2: State your counter-offer

The number you state in the email is the jumping off point for negotiations, and not necessarily the number you expect will ultimately be offered to you. For this part of the email, Lin recommends striking a tone that is “respectful, polite, and professional,” adding that “it’s also important to remember that the majority of employers expect that job applications will negotiate starting salary.” Lin advises using the following phrases to help keep that respectful and professional tone while getting your point across, as well as some to avoid: 

Effective Phrases

  • “Is there any wiggle room?”
  • “If it’s not too sensitive, do you mind if I ask you what the salary range is for this role?”
  • “Can we discuss the other components of the compensation plan?”
  • “How willing are you to…”

Ineffective Phrases

  • “I will not accept anything less than X”
  • “I need a higher salary to pay my bills”

Step 3: Back yourself up 

The number you ask for doesn’t mean much if you can’t back it up with research and justification. In fact, research is one of the most important things you can do in order to make your salary negotiation a success. Tools like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth can help you get a sense of what the average salary range is for someone with your experience, in your industry, in your city. Always try to cite your sources, especially if you’re relying on numerical information to backup your ask. “Candidates often forget to explain the reasons why they want or deserve a higher salary,” says Lin. “Researchers have found that negotiators that include a reason why they deserve something are 20+ percent more effective than those who don’t.”

Lin recommends using the following template as a jumping-off point for your salary negotiation email. According to Lin, this template is ideal because it’s brief and to the point, which fits the needs of busy recruiters and hiring managers, along with being polite, clear, and direct. 

Dear Hiring Manager, 

Thank you for offering me the position. I am excited about the opportunity, and I can’t wait to start. 

For starting salary, I am looking for something closer to [insert specific number]. The reason why is [specific reason]. 

Is there wiggle room? 

Remember, this is a jumping off point, and further negotiations may come later. But by putting in the work of research now, and distilling your ask into short, sweet terms, you are well on your way to getting the top dollar salary that you are asking for. 

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