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How Much to Counter Offer Salary (Maximize Pay with 2 Examples)
You’ve just received a job offer or a promotion, and you’re excited! But then you remember – you need to negotiate your salary.
You might be wondering how much to counter offer salary. After all, you don’t want to lose the opportunity by asking for too much…and you don’t want to leave money on the table by not negotiating or negotiating for too little.
This article will cover if you should counter a job offer, how much to counter offer salary, if you can you lose a job offer by negotiating salary, provide salary counter offer examples, and share tips on how to negotiate your salary so that both parties are happy.
If you’re ready to learn how much to counter offer salary then read on!
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Should you counter a job offer salary?
You should always counter offer a job offer if the salary of the job offer is lower than what you expected based on:
- What the market is paying for similar duties and responsibilities
- Your skills, experience, and level of expertise
- Your proven track record of success
- The types of benefits and perks offered/not offered
Presenting one well positioned counter offer will on average increase an offer by 7.4%.
If your nerves have kept you from making a counteroffer consider these findings from a survey of 5,550 employees and senior level roles:
- 70% of the 2800 managers that responded expect candidates to negotiate salary
- 68% of male respondents negotiated their last job offer
- 45% of female respondents negotiated their last job offer
Can you lose a job offer by negotiating salary?
A salary negotiation should be a positive conversation to create alignment between an employer and employee for the value of the work contributed. You can lose a job offer when negotiating salary if you are rude, make demands, give ultimatums, ask for much more than the market is paying, and are not flexible.
To prevent losing a job offer when negotiating:
- Express gratitude,
- Build rapport,
- Be friendly,
- Be professional,
- Present counteroffers using market data, and
- Present counteroffers using quantified personal performance data.
If you are a C-Suite level professional it’s important to know who/what influential stakeholders need to approve the final offer you negotiate and agree to. I once had a “final” offer rescinded and revised because the CTO thought the CEO was compensating me too much and threatened to quit.
The Time I Had an Offer Rescinded and Revised
I often advise, consult, and augment teams for short periods of time. Doing so gives me the ability to not get tunnel vision and apply fresh perspectives to my work.
In one project I was recruited to augment a startup’s team and function as the President/COO. My key objectives were to obtain product/market/fit for the startup and position the company to close a round of funding.
Within three months I helped optimize the product, made key hires, built out a customer service team, streamlined operations, and closed a four year $10 Million/year contract for the company. My achievements resulted in the traction the company needed to quickly close a million+ round of seed funding.
I received an offer from the CEO, negotiated the offer, accepted the offer, began the process of making adjustments to my life to extend the scope of my work with the company, and then had the offer rescinded because the CTO thought I was being compensated too much (despite the fact I closed a $40 Million contract for the company which gave the company real traction as the largest client contract before my joining the company was $1,000/month).
The CTO threatened to quit the company if my offer was not changed. Consequently my offer was rescinded and revised to 60% of the salary and 17% of the equity originally agreed to. I turned the revised offer down (for many reasons). The company operated for about another year with the money I positioned them to fundraise, went through a tech accelerator, lost key team leaders, and is now defunct.
The experience taught me that even at the C-Suite level a job offer is not final even when presented by the CEO. It also showed me a polarizing dichotomy of two company leaders (both White men). The CEO was prepared to compensate me based on the value I contributed to the company. The CTO was prepared to compensate me based on his perception of my value as a person (i.e. as a Mexican American Latina) and grossly influenced the CEO to retract my offer.
If you are a C-Suite level professional ask in writing “Has this offer been approved by the necessary company stakeholders?” If the answer is “Yes” you’re good to go. If not, ask “Who needs to be involved in the conversation so that we can streamline our efforts?” Asking these questions over email will help prevent being presented a final offer that could be rescinded because it was not approved by all stakeholders.
How Much to Counter Offer Salary
What you counter offer depends on what the market is paying for the job title, duties, and responsibilities as well as how the company makes compensation decisions (are they made based on the location you’re in or using a standardized rate of pay regardless of location), your skills and experience, and the income impacting details of the offer, such as:
- Base salary
- Job perks
- Stock options
- Signing bonus
- Income impacting variables (e.g. paid time off, performance pay, and bonus schedule)
Other non-income impacting details you can include in your counter offer include things like:
- Job title, and
- Variables that increase your happiness at work and ability to be successful (e.g. no meeting Fridays).
How much can you negotiate salary offer?
If the job offer you receive is below what the market is paying for someone with your skills, experience, and track record of success you should negotiate until you reach the number you want or as close to it as possible.
Inversely, let’s say that you get a job offer that is above what you anticipated and competitive for the market (yes!). Unless the company says it has a philosophy of not negotiating and offering it’s best and final offer upfront the offer is likely negotiable and should be negotiated.
In this case, negotiating an even higher compensation will depend on your knowledge of the job description and correlating your quantified successes/experience/achievements to the job’s duties.
For example, let’s pretend you’re a Marketing Manager in Miami, Florida, at a Publicly Traded Company and you were hoping to negotiate for a $75,000 base salary but receive the following market competitive offer:
- Base salary: $80,000
- Benefits: Full benefits (Health, Dental, Vision, Life, 401k)
- Job perks: Remote Work, Flexible Schedule, Work from Home Stipend, Tuition Matching, Learning Stipend
- Stock options: 0.023% (valued at $65,000) vesting over four years
- Signing Bonus: $2,500
- Income impacting variables: 3-Weeks Paid-time off, Four-weeks Parental Leave, $1,400.00 Bonus for Exceeding Monthly Campaign Goals by 10%
Rather than accepting the offer right away (because it was not communicated it was the best and final offer) you could negotiate an even higher salary using your achievements.
Salary Counter Offer Example (Part I)
“Thank you for this offer. I’m excited for the opportunity to start as your new [Insert Job Title].
This offer was a little lower than expected for someone with my track record of success. The position requires X I have previously [Insert quantified achievement]. It also requires Y I have previously [Insert quantified achievement]. In addition, I would be responsible for Z which I have previously excelled at by [Insert quantified achievement].
Is this offer open for negotiation?”
The hiring manager’s response will dictate if you are able to negotiate the competitive offer. If you are able to negotiate the offer, be specific in what you ask for.
What percentage should you counter offer salary?
The best counter offers are rooted in data and give specific values/numbers. It’s best to avoid negotiating in percentages (unless negotiating equity) because a percentage:
- Is not a specific value
- Can sound like more than a dollar value
- Relies on the person you’re negotiating with to properly calculate the value/number you want (if they miscalculate then you’re in position where what you want and what they think you want are two different things)
You should know the salary negotiation percentage increase you want but ask for the equivalent dollar amount.
Continuing on with our salary counter offer example for the competitive job offer above. If the offer is open to negotiation you could say something like…
Salary Counter Offer Example (Part II)
“I appreciate you being open.
My track record demonstrates I have the ability to [Insert success driver (e.g. exceed goals)] and [Insert success driver (e.g. lift revenue by an average of 7% quarterly)].
I was thinking a base salary of $96,000.00 best reflects how my track record of success translates to what I bring to the position and company.
If we could bring it up I could be ready to start on [Insert date].”
Counter Offer Too High
Using our example of countering a competitive offer, let’s pretend the counter offer presented is too high and the person you are negotiating says, “Sorry, but that is out of our budget.” In this situation there are a couple of things you can do. What you choose to do will depend on the dynamics of your negotiation and if it’s an in-person negotiation, on the phone negotiation, or salary negotiation over email.
If you are negotiating salary in-person rather than responding you could sit quietly and look at them kindly as though you are waiting for them to say something more. Not saying anything is a salary negotiation strategy.
In this example, the silence could be a little awkward. In which case, the person you are negotiating with may feel the pressure to offer a counter. If they don’t counter an offer you could say something like…
“What do you think aligns the budget, job’s duties, and my skills and experience?”
Using the word align is important; it is a reminder to both of you that you are working together to establish a mutually beneficial outcome (also don’t forget that if your base salary counter offer is too high you can negotiate stock options, bonuses, job perks, and things that will make you happier at work like a four-day work week).
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