How to Negotiate Your Salary Via Email (With Examples)
- Treat email negotiations and communications with the same level of professionalism as in-person negotiations.
- Ask questions to ensure that you understand all components of the offer.
- Use employee forums and job boards to gain insights on a reasonable counter offer.
With graduation from college and trade school looming and job-hunting season kicking into high gear, many questions come to mind regarding how best to negotiate salaries.
Once a strictly in-person affair, salary negotiations are transforming with the times to email, on-screen, conference calls, and other virtual channels. While the thought of negotiating your compensation package remotely might seem stressful, there are many best practices to help you navigate this new terrain.
Keep reading to learn how to negotiate a job offer through email and come out on the other end with a higher salary, a signing bonus, more vacation time, or other benefits that you value.
1. Don’t Negotiate Piecemeal, See the Entire Offer First
Generally speaking, the window for negotiating your compensation package opens once your potential employer provides you with a written offer and closes once you sign it. If your potential employer asks during the interview what your requirements are for your salary, benefits, or other compensation, staying high-level but respectful works best.
Responses such as, “I’m really excited about this position and look forward to agreeing on a competitive compensation package” show interest in the position without committing to numbers just yet.
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2. Convey Gratitude, Respect, and Optimism Regarding the Next Steps
Expressing gratitude, respect, and optimism work well no matter the communication channel. Email adds an additional layer of personalization by allowing you to send responses to each person on the interview team.
A customized email can address the person by name, thank the person for the opportunity to interview, cite an interesting point that they raised during the interview, and close with something like, “I'm looking forward to remaining in touch and discussing the next steps.”
3. Steer Clear of Big Emotions and Emojis
If you’ve reached the point of the interview process where a written offer is being extended, and you are negotiating salary, it’s only natural to be excited. Particularly if you’ve heard your fair share of ‘no’s’ during your job search and are finally hearing a ‘yes.’ However, keeping your tone professional and neutral is important.
Keep your email communications free from high-energy words, whether positive like ‘love’ or ‘fabulous’ or negative like ‘disappointed’ or ‘upset.’ Likewise, steering clear of emojis, all capital letters, non-conventional font types, and excessive punctuation (for instance, more than one question mark, any exclamation points) works best.
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4. Ask Questions
If you don’t have all the details required to make your decision, you are sure to have questions regarding some aspect of the offer, particularly if you’re just seeing it for the first time. Asking questions can be a great way to start your negotiations.
Questions serve a number of purposes that include:
- Ensuring that you understand the offer before extending a counter.
- Conveying a sense of seriousness on your part in truly evaluating the offer.
- Building in time for you to review the offer, research compensation for similar positions, and reflect on a possible counter.
5. Compensation Packages
Compensation packages that are at the higher end of the spectrum often come with a signing bonus or equity in the form of stock options or shares of stock. If you’re offered a base salary of $150,000 plus a signing bonus of $30,000, you’ll want to start with gratitude (“Thanks so very much for your offer…”) and follow up with a few questions. For instance, ask about the company's budget regarding the salary and signing bonus for the position you are interviewing for.
Most companies have a salary range for every position, and you’ll want to know what the minimum and maximum salary range and signing bonus range are for your position. If you are not offered a number that is at the maximum end of the range, fear not, there could be a good reason for that, such as that your experience is not commensurate with those who are paid at this level. But if your experience is significant, you will want to revisit the salary and signing bonus being offered.
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Another question you can raise is a moving bonus if you are relocating for the position. Annual bonuses are being paid by many companies, so you will also want to ask what the annual bonus structure is. Notice that when you ask the question, you are not asking if you will receive an annual bonus; you’re pre-supposing that you will and asking what the annual bonus structure is.
If your offer letter does not state the health, retirement, vacation, sick, and education/tuition assistance benefits, consider this an oversight on the company's part and ask them to describe these benefits and how they work. When it comes to retirement and bonuses, for instance, there’s often a vesting period— you will want to understand what this is.
If it feels squeamish to delve into so many areas, you can always defuse any tension you may feel or that you think the counterparty may feel by weaving in a sentence in your email along the lines of “I so appreciate your candor in discussing my offer and walking me through the various components of the offer.”
6. Do Your Homework
Doing your homework involves a combination of conducting online research and asking friends and colleagues for input. Position descriptions from competing companies, and websites where employees anonymously submit salary reviews, are great places to start collecting intelligence on what is reasonable to expect for the position.
Friends and colleagues can also be great sounding boards. However, be sure that you keep your circle small and limited to those who can maintain absolute confidentiality as you go through the negotiation process.
The Money Wrap-Up
Negotiating by email offers many advantages, from allowing you to build in time to research and think through your offer rather than responding on the spot to enabling you to keep your tone neutral and your emotions under wraps rather than written all over your face.