Salary negotiation is difficult regardless, but trying to start the conversation through email and receive a positive response adds a whole new layer of worries. What should the subject line say? How do you create a tone that is simultaneously professional, humble, and assertive?
While it’s preferable to negotiate starting salary in person or over the phone, it’s not uncommon to use email if that’s the method you’ve used to communicate with the hiring manager previously. These salary negotiation email samples and tips can help you craft your email negotiation script, even without discussing the matter with the hiring manager face to face.
Complete the negotiation prep worksheet and familiarize yourself with effective salary negotiation techniques. These resources will give you the material you need to develop a powerful argument in your favor.
Recipients. Send your salary negotiation email to the recruiter you worked with most closely throughout the application process. You may consider CCing the recruiter’s manager if you’ve communicated with him/her previously and you feel it’s appropriate.
Subject line. Keep your subject line generic, yet detailed enough that the reader recognizes that it pertains to a specific job offer. For example, author of Fearless Salary Negotiation, Josh Doody, suggests a phrase like “Josh Doody – My thoughts on Tom’s verbal offer.”
Salutation.The appropriate greeting depends on your past dealings with this contact. If conversations have been fairly formal, try starting with “Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. [Recruiter’s Last Name]” followed by a comma. If you don’t know which prefix the recipient prefers, forgo it entirely and use the contact’s full name. When your previous interactions have been more informal, you might use “hello” or “hi” instead of “dear,” and/or address the recipient by their first name.
Paragraph 1: Opener. Begin like you would for a verbal negotiation. State your appreciation for the offer and your excitement for the opportunity.
Paragraph 2: Proposal. This is where the salary negotiation email script deviates most from its verbal counterpart. Unlike a back-and-forth conversation, an email is one-sided. You must make your case convincingly in one block of text, rather than a dialogue in which you can respond to the employer’s concerns and body language. Because of your limited ability to discuss the matter in real-time, it is important to make a very persuasive argument in this initial communication.
Paragraph 3: Closer. Restate your genuine interest so the employer knows it’s worth their time to try to make your request work, and thank them for the offer.
Signature. Use the same method to sign this email as you did with other correspondence during the job search. Otherwise, you risk miscommunicating and confusing the HR representative in charge of your recruitment.
Sample 1: For a below-average offer
Dear Ms. Smith,
Thank you for getting in touch! I’m very excited for the opportunity to work at [Company Name] as [a/an/the] [Position Title].
With my [2–3 qualifications/skills or summary of major past achievements], I am certain that I will achieve great results for [Company Name]. Before I sign the offer, however, I would like to discuss base salary. According to my research, the average salary for comparable positions in the [work location] area is in the [average salary] range. I would like to discuss the possibility of moving the offer closer to [proposed salary].
Again, I am thrilled to have been offered this position. I look forward to speaking with you again soon.
Sample 2: For an offer below expectations based on your qualifications
Dear Mr. Jones,
I was thrilled to receive your email! Thank you so much for the [Position Title] opportunity.
Before I can formally accept the proposal, I need to discuss base salary. With my [2–3 industry-specific sources of value] and history of [summary of achievements], I know I will bring great value to [Company Name]. Because of my [experience/history] of [qualifications], I was really looking for an offer closer to [proposed salary].
I am still very excited about the offer, and would love to talk about the possibility of moving my starting wage closer to this number. I am open to bridging the pay gap through alternative means, such as [benefit #1] or [benefit #2] if necessary.
Sample 3: If you’ve received a higher offer from another employer
Dear Mr. Doe,
Thank you so much for the [Position Title] job offer! I am excited for the chance to work with [Company Name] in this capacity.
I need to discuss starting pay, however. Though your company is my first choice, I have received an offer for [other salary offer] from a different organization. If you can match this figure, I am fully prepared to accept the terms of your offer.
Again, I am highly interested in this opportunity. I look forward to achieving great results at [Company Name]!