Is this a good idea for a counter-offer?
March 27, 2008 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I interviewed for a job, all went really well, and I was told they would offer me the position, but I wanted too much money. So I tried to work some negotiating magic, and I'd like input on my counter-offer and if other people have done this and if it works like I hope.

My counter-offer is basically the max salary they could offer me ($7k less than I asked for), plus a list of concrete items to be reviewed in six months, where my salary will be increased by at least 5%. I haven't heard back yet if they are going to go for this, but I just wanted to get some input on if this was a good idea, if anyone else had done something like this, anything to watch out for, etc.
posted by high0nfire to Work & Money (14 answers total)
If they don't have the money now, what makes you think they'll have it in six months?
posted by kindall at 11:51 AM on March 27, 2008

You could say, "how about this starting salary with a review after 6 months?" When you say "my salary will be increased by at least 5%" what is the alternative? You will resign? Is that really what you want? You don't give quite enough information, but in general, I've always pretty much said "take it or leave it" to people who balk at a first salary offer, and I never think twice about it. If there's a big disconnect between an employer and employee right from the start about the employee's worth, it's probably not a good match.
posted by thomas144 at 11:52 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think getting your first review in 6 months as opposed to the usual year is a pretty good concession (and a big concession at a large company), not to mention whatever other "concrete" things you asked for (assuming hilarious business card title and great parking space, but that's just me). I think getting your first review in 6 months is you willing to make a bet that you're going to deliver a lot of value to the company that will become apparent in 6 months. So I think gunning for the 5% raise now is premature.
posted by zpousman at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2008

I don't think you're out of line to ask for a review in 6 months, but how familiar are you with the salary structure of the employer? What do you mean by "the max they could offer?" Is the salary range for the position $X0,000-Y0,000 and you're asking to start at $Y0,000 and get a raise in 6 months? That may be impossible without a promotion. What is a typical, standard annual increase? For many employers, a 5% pay increase would be reserved for those employees who "exceed expectations" or whatever the performance review lingo is there. Are there other people in the company doing the same thing that you'll be doing? The employer might be uncomfortable paying a new, unproven performer more than the people currently on staff. If there is a lot of competition for this position, they may decide to go with someone who will be more affordable from the get-go, but if you find yourself to be undervalued from the beginning, that may create some problems anyway.
posted by ferociouskitty at 12:45 PM on March 27, 2008

I agree with thomas144. Pick the number you are willing to work for and give them a take it or leave it (in a nicer way). You will not be happy there if you are getting less than you think you are worth. A 6 month review will mean nothing. You still have to trust that they come through.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:09 PM on March 27, 2008

Nthing the take it or leave it scenario. If that's really what you and the job are worth you need to pick your number and stand hard. I've actually tried the 6-month review with raise thing before and it falls through. If they're not willing to spend it now to get you it's not very likely you'll get what you want later on. Stick to your guns, unless you're willing to sacrifice for a really awesome job.
posted by Craig at 1:29 PM on March 27, 2008

honey, 5% is a huge freaking increase, and usually comes when someone gets a promotion.

generally when i hear that people can't get the salary they want, they say they'll accept the salary being offered (if reasonable) but they want X additional vacation days, or whatever.

except for the 5% raise at 6 months, i don't think what you asked for is unreasonable. but, their hands may be tied in regards to being able to review at a certain time. plus, 6 months isn't really long enough for a company to evaluate if you're worth an extra 5%.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:41 PM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the input everyone. To me, 5% isn't a lot. My last performance raise was 10% and involved no promotion (not possible in my current working situation, part of the reason I'm looking for a new job). I tend to kick-ass at my jobs to earn that kind of a raise. Right now my thoughts are that I'm okay with the base salary without anything else. I really like the job/people/company enough for that. I'm just waiting to hear what they come back with now. I'm probably handling this all wrong as I've never had to negotiate a job salary ever before.
posted by high0nfire at 2:16 PM on March 27, 2008

I've worked at places where they wouldn't give you a 10% raise no matter what you did - they had hard and fast rules about raise percentages, and there was no getting around them, even for superstars. I mention this only as a data point - some places have the flexibility to give more money to amazing employees, and some places don't ... and I've seen some places that considered 3% generous, the best they offered to the best employees.

When budgets are an issue and I'm offered less than I want for a gig I'd really like anyway, I often look for other things to negotiate on - working from home, more/less travel, or more vacation time like misanthropicsarah said above.
posted by kristi at 2:44 PM on March 27, 2008

I just wanted to get some input on if this was a good idea

Sure it is. If that what you're requesting is you need to get. If you're really willing to work for less than what you propose in your counter-offer, then you're bluffing, and the normal risks involved with bluffing are present.

If they read your counter-offer and decide not to hire you, how will you feel? If you'll be kicking yourself and feeling stupid, then maybe you need to rethink the counter-offer. If you'll be fine because you couldn't possibly work for less, then you're okay as you are. If it's somewhere in between those two, then it depends on your tolerance for risk.
posted by winston at 2:52 PM on March 27, 2008

When they said you were asking too much, why did they not put in a counter offer themselves - isn't that how negotiations work?

I realise this comes too little too late for you, but good luck!
posted by mooza at 3:28 PM on March 27, 2008

mooza: I think they did, and this is how he came up with the "maximum they'll offer" figure...

I agree with everyone else, that you could ask for the 6 month review, but you might have trouble with the 5% guaranteed pay raise (again, it depends on their policies with regards to performance reviews and salary increases... Why not ask what the standard policy/raise if at performance reviews?).

Also, why not ask for the short review period, but also some other stuff now that balances out your 7k shortfall a little (as suggested, longer vacation time, or a parking spot, or a company car (if possible) or something else)? That way you get something up front, rather than a promise that could ultimately fall through.
posted by ranglin at 3:51 PM on March 27, 2008

Have you considered that they are just strong-arming you? To see if you will fold and take their offer?

But I see no problem with the 5% guarantee, provided there are specific, measurable goals that go along with it.
posted by gjc at 4:16 PM on March 27, 2008

I'm probably too late to be useful, but just for the record, it has been my experience that the whole "review after 6 months" thing is completely useless. Evaluate the offer based on what they're willing to give you up front, and don't be swayed by promises of future reviewy goodness that will never happen.
posted by somanyamys at 7:02 AM on March 28, 2008

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