How to negotiate a job offer

When the recruiter called to tell me about my job offer, they were insistent that I sign my offer letter as soon as possible. I am waiting to hear back from another company, so I didn’t want to sign the offer letter just yet. However, I was disappointed with the company’s initial offer (especially the base salary and health benefits). How do I let the recruiter know that I am excited about the position but need some time to think it over? If I receive another offer, how should I go about negotiation?

Many recruiters will pressure you to sign during that initial phone call. Don’t sign the letter just yet, but you do need to remain positive during the call. Emphasize that you are excited about the position and that you would love to work there. However, you should let them know that you need some time to discuss the offer with your family or partner. Accepting a job offer is a major life decision that should not be taken lightly.

After the initial phone call, follow up with a thoughtful email. If you received another job offer with better health benefits, for example, you might write something like, “I recently received a job offer from another company with more competitive health benefits, but I would prefer to work here. It would be much easier to make the decision if the compensation packages were comparable.” The more specific you are about what you need from the recruiter, the more likely you will receive a revised offer letter that suits your needs. Remember that you can both negotiate to make the most money and maintain a good impression. You can use this email template to write your follow-up email.

Hi [recruiter name],

I wanted to thank you again for the offer, I’m very excited for the chance to join [Company X], especially after getting to know the team! I took some time to talk about the offer with my family, and after doing some reflection I’d like to ask a few questions.

I would love to know if there is any flexibility on the base salary to ease my mind about the decision — my goal is to be at my next company for a long time, so it’s important to me to make sure that I’m set up for success. I’m also about to finish up the interview process with [Company Y] for a similar position (on the [software engineering team]), which starts at $108,000 per year with a $24,000 signing bonus. I am much more excited to join [Company X], but the difference in pay is a significant barrier for me at the moment. Is it possible to increase the base pay to come as close as possible to $108,000, or perhaps offer a significant sign-on bonus to help mitigate the difference? If so, I would have no hesitation signing the offer right away.

Again, I want to reiterate my excitement and interest in working at [Company X] — I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone I’ve spoken with, and from what it sounds like the team is working on some really great things that I know I can contribute to.

Thank you again for this offer, please let me know your thoughts when you have a moment.

[your name]

If you sign the job offer too soon, it will be almost impossible to negotiate your compensation package.

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