How do I counter-offer a job offer?

As a follow up to this post, I received a call this morning offering me the job.

They’ve offered it at the bottom of my expected salary range and I would like to try to get another two to four thousand for a salary (this is still within the range I gave them).

Also, I will require 14 days off this December for an already almost paid for honeymoon (I get married in 10 days).

Finally, they offered two weeks vacation a year and I would like a minimum of three. I currently get three weeks and am due for a week increase at my current company in 1.5 years (10 years service).

How do I write a counter-offer and can it be in an email message or should it be in a letter?

I really, really hope this works out, I HATE my current job!

If you aren’t enough of a negotiator to at least do this in person or on the phone, you’re not going to get it, IMHO. Then follow up with a letter (a real letter if their offer letter was a real letter) documenting what you agreed to.

The general approach to asking would be to say to the manager that made the offer that you’d really like to take the job and would like to work with them, but need a few things to make it comparable to what you are getting now. Ask for what you have listed here, but know in your heart exactly how low you will go.

You should consider what your and their BATNAs are. That stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Your BATNA is either their current offer or your current job. Theirs is re-posting their position or going down the list of candidates. Do you know which it is? If they have a strong second likely to take the offer they’ve given you, they have a strong BATNA.

Some other things to consider:

Is December a time that most people in your industry take vacation and not much gets done? Is it a crunch time? Do you tend to have people around who don’t observe Christmas much if at all and are willing to cover, or is the kind of situation where management has to get involved to structure holiday coverage? That kind of stuff makes the difference between whether this is a big ask or a small one. Usually negotiating vacation dates on the way in goes pretty smoothly, but it depends on the specific job and office.

How large is the company? The smaller the company the more likely they can negotiate the amount of vacation. A large company will be less likely to do that. However, a large company may be more able to negotiate salary, assuming it’s still in their range for paying the position. If you’re willing to take some of the salary in the form of a performance bonus or accelerated salary review, that might help you get something negotiated.

Salaries are going lower 'cause of the recession. My last hotel job was an asst controller at 49K, I have seen the same jobs now in the sam market as low as 27K. For an asst controller at 40+ hours a week? Yep.

If you aren’t getting much else, then just take it, you can always keep looking or quit after your honeymoon.

Get sick in December. Real sick. Tell them you need to schedule a procedure or something.:wink:

Also, it’s an employer’s market. If you really hate the current gig and think you’ll really like this, you might do well to just ask them if you can renegotiate some of this stuff after your first year anniversary, once you’ve proved yourself to be the ace employee they’ve been looking for.

I generally agree with Harriet the Spry, although I’d be OK with submitting your counteroffer in an email, but do it quickly. You want to be positive and not set a tone that will make them think you’re arrogant. Do mention that you are currently getting three weeks of vacation, but skip that part about what happens in 1.5 years. If I read that I would say, “OK, stay with them another 1.5 years. See you later.”

How does their offer compare with what you’re making now? Although ideally it shouldn’t work this way, many companies look at your current salary and figure out what’s the minimum raise they have to offer to get you, rather than a broader view of what you’re actually worth. That is, many companies will take advantage of you if you’re currently underpaid, so there is room to push. However, if they’re already giving you a 10% raise it will be tough to squeeze a couple of thou out of them.

The vacation is non-negotiable at many companies, but the end-around for that is to negotiate a bigger salary and get permission to take unpaid leave. The possibilities are very specific to each company so I would use the unpaid leave angle as a fallback if they don’t go for giving more vacation.

They accepted all the terms of my counter but offered a slightly lower salary then I asked for. I currently get three weeks, and they’ll give me three weeks there. I also get all the time off in December that I asked for, some of it time off without pay, but there is no issue surrounding that. They’ll also review my salary in April and my vacation time in two years.

I have a feeling the way it works in the US must be different then here (maybe especially in Alberta). Most people counter offer here, it’s usually expected by HR as far as I know.

Well, yeah, the health of Alberta’s economy is better than what we’re seeing in most of the US.

And their BATNA is not as good if it relies on luring people to Alberta :).

What you’re basically doing in Alberta, and for that matter, in all Canadian provinces, is the same thing you’d be doing if you were negotiating a contract. Offers, and counter-offers, and counter-counter offers, are not unusual when ironing out the details of employment. Mind, it is not unusual for a candidate to accept the first offer either, but you can make of that what you will.

If it seems like a contract is being negotiated, it’s because it is: in the majority of jobs in Canada, the law treats the agreement between employer and employee as a contract. Terms and conditions are as agreed-upon by the parties; where terms and conditions are not addressed, the parties are assumed to have agreed to fall back on the provisions of the employment standards legislation of each province, which sets minimum standards that neither party can agree to set aside. Other legislation, most notably, the human rights codes set by the provinces, governs the employment contract as well; and as might be expected, common-law remedies can affect the terms and conditions also.

This is a very general overview only, and there can be many exceptions and variations to the generalities I’ve mentioned. But yes, EmAnJ, to put it as simply as possible, you’ve just negotiated your own employment contract. Sounds like it’s a good deal.

Your OP didn’t say you were in Alberta so I didn’t realize you were outside of the US. It is common but not quite standard to negotiate job offers here. I’m happy to hear you got your three weeks, and a “slightly lower” salary sounds to me like to did OK.


I’m also in Alberta, and changed careers last fall. Even with the bad economy, I managed to negotiate a couple of small perks. I hadn’t considered regional differences before - I must be used to negotiating job offers.

Thank you for the advice and congratulations all. I am taking the night to think it all through, especially the salary aspect. I have to decide how much my happiness is worth.

A small rant: My fiance seems to think that I should be able to get a guarantee from the new company that I will be employed for a certain number of years or else get a big compensation package if I do get let go. Does that even happen in non-managerial positions?

I emailed my counter-offer, though practically the entire process had been through email. Here’s what I said:

Hi name,

Thank you again for your offer. I’ve considered it carefully, and I believe that based on the skills and experience I bring to your organization, in addition to the added responsibilities of the position, that my counteroffer of $XXXX biweekly be taken into consideration.

I look forward to your thoughts on the matter,

Red Barchetta

It worked :slight_smile:

Generally, I’ve only seen such guarantees in written fixed-term contracts. It doesn’t sound like you have one. I would assume that you have an offer in writing–does it address the question?

As for “big compensation packages if you get let go,” that can still happen without any sort of guarantee, but it’s not necessarily so. The Employment Standards Code of Alberta explains what you are owed by law on termination for reasons other than cause (see s. 56), but it is possible to negotiate more than the statutory minimums, or even to sue for much more. This latter possibility depends on a number of factors though, which probably won’t apply to you for quite some time (one of the factors is length of time employed).