Salary negotiation via email?
August 11, 2008 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Salary negotiation via e-mail?

So I got the job! They want me to start right away -- later this week -- and I am supposed to be getting an offer letter via e-mail today or tomorrow to expedite the process. I was told that if everything looks good, I should just come in on the start date specified, ready to sign on the dotted line and get to work.

But what if I want to negotiate salary and/or benefits? Should I compose an e-mail detailing/asking for what I want? Should I try to make an appointment for tomorrow? Or should I just wait and talk to HR about it when its time to go in?
posted by shotgunbooty to Work & Money (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
meet in person
posted by parmanparman at 7:37 AM on August 11, 2008

For the love of peter, do not respond on this matter via email. Also, don't bother with HR... pick up the phone, call your new boss and negotiate. Let him/her deal with HR.
posted by fusinski at 7:37 AM on August 11, 2008

Call the person to whom you will report or if it is not the same person, the person who hired you. Do not wait until you get there. Do not call HR.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:55 AM on August 11, 2008

You want to negotiate a salary for an entry level position? Unless you have experience/expertise they need you have no bargaining power. Suck it up, take the salary they offer you, work for a year and two and get some experience and *then* you can come back to the bargaining table and not get laughed out of the office. Sorry to be so blunt but that's the way it works in most industries.
posted by camworld at 7:59 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

camworld is harsh, but correct. I assume you've discussed salary at some point with your new boss, so the number in the offer letter shouldn't be a surprise. Unless the offer comes through below what you discussed, trying to negotiate at this point over an entry-level position is a dickish move that might get your offer rescinded.
posted by mkultra at 8:07 AM on August 11, 2008

On the contrary to Camworld's answer, salaries are ALWAYS negotiable. If they aren't willing to come up with more for you, you should be able to spot their immutability and then you should back off, but I know that, both from being the entry-level employee once and now the employer of young, fresh-faced entry-levelers, there's often room for a bump up and I respect people who ask for it, whether or not I'm able to oblige.

Talk to your boss, in person, before you start working.
posted by incessant at 8:10 AM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

Seconding incessant - ask, and you may be surprised. I speak from experience, having successfully negotiated a higher salary at my very much entry-level job quite recently.
posted by entropic at 8:21 AM on August 11, 2008

I negotiated with HR successfully via email, but not until I had established a phone relationship with the target.
posted by Area Control at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2008

Thirding incessant, ask for higher salary unless you know there's a company standard salary for entry-level positions. My company has a range for entry level positions so I didn't bother to ask for more but it turns out I could have gotten another few grands at least. Don't let the entry-level deter you from asking!
posted by vocpanda at 8:42 AM on August 11, 2008

What isn't entirely clear is whether or not you already did a face-value acceptance of the offer.
posted by Ky at 8:45 AM on August 11, 2008

Oops, missed your "sign on the dotted line" part--so yes, I think you still have room to negotiate, but trying to do so right when the paperwork is in front of you isn't the classiest. Talk to your new boss before seeing the dotted line.
posted by Ky at 8:49 AM on August 11, 2008

I've hired entry-level people, including a kid right out of design school. Great talent but zero experience. He had the balls to ask for a salary that was twice what he should be making right out of school. I hired him anyway (at the correct salary level) and he gained valuable experience and has since gone on to better jobs that pay more.

It may or may not hurt to try and negotiate a higher salary, but for an entry-level job -- and I reiterate -- if you don't have something they need, then you potentially risk them taking back the offer because you come across as "too big for your britches" or wanting more than they are willing to provide. It is an entry-level position, after all, and there are certainly other qualified candidates they can hire without having to deal with your negotiations.

OK, perhaps my response is partially aimed at these kids who have grown up expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. It's the me-me-me, gimme-gimme-gimme, I-want-everything-for-free, I-don't-want-to-work-hard-for-what-I-get attitudes I've been seeing for the past 10 years or so that piss me off so much. When these kids enter the workforce, they expect more of the same greased-wheel crap that high schools and college have conformed to under pressure from helicopter parents and students who expect a good grade just because they're paying for college but then not doing the required work.

posted by camworld at 9:34 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the replies everyone.

camworld, I appreciate your candor and your perspective, and I'll try to stay off your lawn.
posted by shotgunbooty at 9:55 AM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you haven't already discussed salary, certainly you can negotiate. If you have explicitly (or maybe even tacitly) agreed to a starting salary, then you may want to reconsider. Have they gone into detail on the benefits, or are you expecting that information in the offer letter? If you haven't had details on the benefits already, you may try and use that to open up the salary negotiations as well.

I've hired many kids straight out of college (and interviewed literally hundreds more) and have experienced very few who have the me-me-me, gimme-gimme-gimme, I-want-everything-for-free, I-don't-want-to-work-hard-for-what-I-get attitude that camworld unfortunately has experienced, so I don't have the same visceral reaction when someone wants to negotiate a starting salary for an entry-level position.

It may depend, therefore, on whether you think your boss is more like camworld in this regard than me (absolutely no criticism of camworld implied here). And that's not too easy to tell until you open up the discussion.

Good luck!
posted by Nick Verstayne at 10:21 AM on August 11, 2008

It's pretty simple, really. Look at their offer letter. If you're happy with the salary offer, just start working. If you're not happy with it, inform the person who you interviewed with that you can not accept the position at that salary. The big warning: If you do tell them that you can't take that salary, you MUST be prepared to walk away from the job, or have the offer retracted. Think really hard about what constitutes minimum compensation for you, and be realistic.

If you don't really like the salary, you can always try slugging it out for a year, and looking around again after that, as an alternative.
posted by Citrus at 10:28 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Salary negotiation isn't personal, your "gimme gimme gimme" upbringing or lack thereof shouldn't be relevant. If you want more money, you ask for more money. As long as you haven't already agreed to a different number, and as long as you keep it reasonable, it's fully appropriate to have this conversation (entry level or not). You may not get what you want but you've every right to ask.

"Shouldn't" is an important word above, though. Some people just can't seem to keep their personal biases or assumptions out of the workplace. I assume you met the interested parties, I hope you got some sort of vibe that would inform this decision. Reread camworld's comments here and try to picture your potential boss saying those words. If it's easy to imagine, then you may want to adjust your asking price or not challenge it at all. Personally, if I got that read off a person I'd reconsider the job altogether (sorry camworld), but YM (and your need for employment) M definitely V.

Good luck with everything!
posted by Riki tiki at 11:52 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

What does everyone think about calling and doing negotiation over the phone?
posted by shotgunbooty at 1:36 PM on August 11, 2008

No criticisms taken. I know that I am much harder on people I employ than other bosses. I expect only the best from people I hire and and expect them to meet my high standards. In exchange, they get a good salary, invaluable experience and the knowledge that they did some great work.

Avoid any jobs where you feel like you will be under-appreciated or unchallenged unless you are really only taking the job to gain experience and it pays enough to keep food on the table.

All you other kids can get offa my damn lawn already and stop sucking from the ubiquitous Handout Teet our society has conditioned them to suckle.
posted by camworld at 2:54 PM on August 11, 2008

If you get the letter and it isn't want you want, call them and schedule a meeting.

It almost sounds like you're trying to find the easy way out. There is none.
posted by gjc at 4:29 PM on August 11, 2008

I recently did this for my own entry level job. They e-mailed me an offer, I e-mailed a counteroffer. I then spoke to HR on the phone and explained my counteroffer in terms of previous work-placement experience and how my counteroffer compared with industry salary surveys.

I asked for $(n)500 more, I got $(n-1)500 more. It amounted to about 15% higher than the original offer. I'm not sure why you wouldn't at least try to negotiate your offer. Unless you're asking for absurd amounts (i.e. twice as much as is usual), what have you got to lose?
posted by sah at 5:21 PM on August 11, 2008


1. In person or over the phone is the way to go.

2. My experience is that salary is not always negotiable. It should be viewed as negotiable by both parties, but I have seen situations where counter offers have resulted in hard feelings on the part of the potential employer to the point that the job offer was almost withdrawn. In other cases, employers are uncomfortable or inexperienced with negotiating such things, and instead of just declining the counter offer, they take the counter offer as a complete rejection. It's silly, but haggling is not a part of everyone's culture.

If it is going to be done, I usually make sure to do it in a way that is more conversational than demanding. You want to express that you are very exited about the job offer, but there is just this one little detail of salary to be worked out.

Also, while in most cases, the future boss must be consulted before a counter offer is accepted, some managers will give the HR rep a range to work with. Sometimes it is as easy as asking HR if they are authorized to negotiate salary. If they are, and you catch them off guard, they may even tell you how high they are authorized to go. Again, be conversational, excited and polite. Often they have very little interest in being difficult if they are authorized to go a little higher. If they say they are not authorized, go directly to the boss yourself, not through them.

In most cases, it is better to be sure you are not leaving any money on the table, but I would always do so verbally, so if one of the above situations arises, I can fix the situation immediately. If you are too nervous to do it live, you might just be better off taking the initial offer if you find it acceptable.
posted by worstkidever at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

And And I'm really hard on people who make typo;s in comments and are cool. It's how I roll.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 9:08 PM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

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