You have been preparing for this opportunity for years. Your dream job is finally available, and the hiring manager accepted your application.
You jumped through all the hoops and completed numerous interviews. You passed the background check, the drug screen, and are finally presented with your highly-anticipated job offer!
Unfortunately, your excitement quickly vanishes as you realize the company gave you a low-ball job offer.
Not only was the job offer much less than you expected, but it may even be below the market norms for your particular position. What do you do now?
There are a few correct ways to deal with this punch to the gut and several wrong ways as well.
Exactly how you should respond to a low-ball job offer
Before you do anything, take a deep breath. The truth is, low-ball offers happen all the time, but that doesn’t mean the low-ball offer is the final offer. Use these tips to handle the situation correctly without burning bridges.
1. Thank them for the offer and ask for time to consider the proposal
Guard your words and actions. If you immediately are aghast and insulted, do everything in your power to hide these emotions. By asking for time and professionally acknowledging the offer, you can use this extra time to double-check your numbers.
2. Research your position to know the industry standard salary
Before you try to counter the offer, be sure you have realistic expectations. You may think you’re worth more than the position pays. Be sure you have solid numbers to know where industry standards are compared to the offer. If, after your research, the offer really is a low-ball offer, make sure you have evidence to back up the average salary.
3. Send an email expressing your concern
After asking for additional time, a great tactic is to allow the hiring manager to improve the offer on their own. Send a short email indicating you are disappointed in the offer and ask if they can improve the offer so you can consider it.
This email sends a powerful message while being respectful at the same time. It clearly communicates your disappointment and gives them an opportunity to reconsider. By using this tactic, it allows them the ability to improve the offer without you issuing a counteroffer at this point.
4. Evaluate their response
The response you receive to this email will tell you much more about their current position.
If they stick hard and fast to the offer, this is a strong indication the proposal is likely near as high as they will go.
If they are willing to improve the offer, this gives you more to work with and may get you to what you were expecting or at least closer to your counteroffer.
5. Formulate you counteroffer
During this phase, you need to have a firm number or benefits in mind that you must meet or you’re willing to turn down the offer.
You should have your secret “line in the sand” as you prepare to make your counteroffer. If their offer meets your minimum expectations, you have nothing to lose but everything to gain.
If you still need improvement, know your minimums and make sure your counter is more so there is room for negotiation.
6. Present your counteroffer
Again, throughout this process, the key is to remain respectful and gracious for the opportunity. Avoid any negative feelings showing through as you work to improve the low-ball offer. As you present your counteroffer, focus on four elements:
- Express your desire to be part of the company
- Make it clear that you feel their offer is below what you are willing to accept and you would like to propose an offer that will get you closer to where you need to be
- State the specific details of your counteroffer and what you would like to receive
- Thank them for their time and consideration
- Be prepared to walk away if necessary
More often than not, they will address your counter with their own counteroffer. This is why you aim for a reasonable amount more than your minimum. If the counteroffer meets your minimum or better, graciously accept the offer.
If the offer is lower than expected and doesn’t meet your minimum needed for the position, you have to be willing to walk away.
Presenting your best self
Most importantly, do not burn any bridges or offer any insults if you’re upset with the low-ball offer.
You never know what opportunities may arise in the future, and any bridges burned may result in missed job offers and fallout through dissolved network connections.
Even disappointing experiences can later lead to unexpected opportunities.