Salary Negotiation Tips: How to Follow Up When You’ve Heard Nothing

Get clarity on a potential job offer by making sure the next move is up to you.


Q: I interviewed three months ago with two potential employers, each a president of a company under a larger corporation. At the time, it had not been decided whether each would hire one new employee, or whether one person would be a shared resource in the territory. About two weeks later, they e-mailed me to say they were leaning towards a single hire, that it would be me, and asked me to send my salary requirements. I called to discuss (yes, I was a bit embarrassed by the figure, though I know it is reasonable) and they reiterated the additional compensation (mileage expenses, bonuses, etc.). Since then I have heard nothing.

I followed up with an e-mail and a voicemail about a month after that, but have heard nothing. Now what? The position is one for which I am ideally suited and we had an excellent interview. It does not appear they have hired anyone else as the position is still posted on their Web site. They know many of my professional contacts and spoke to some of them both before and after the interview. I don’t want to become a pest, but the wait is killing me. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

A: There are two times when you have real leverage to ask for clarity about a job offer. The first is at the end of a discussion where they have not yet made an offer, but they ask you about your salary requirements. Your response should be, “is this an appropriate time to be discussing salary? What I mean is, can we get together on compensation only when you are ready to go forward on hiring for this position?”

The second opportunity to get leverage is to make sure that the next step in the hiring process is always up to you. That would sound like, “One of the important things in a position like thie one we’ve discussed is clear and timely communication. In the job search process itself, precise communication is often neglected. I’d like to get off to a good start by telling you that I will be responsible, fully responsible, for maintaining communication with you. When would you like to me to connect with you again?”

The trick is to always make sure the ball is in your court. If you have a definite time and method of communication, when you call or send an e-mail you’re seen as responsible. The same actions without an agreement of who’s going to call whom next, sounds like nagging.

Even if they say “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” you can still put the ball in your court. Say to them, “I can appreciate that you would like to work on your own timetable — I will take full responsibility to make sure that we don’t lose communication with each other. Could we agree on a date we can use as a failsafe date? That is, if I don’t hear from you by that date I can take that as a sign that it’s my job to get back in communication with you?”