If you find yourself reading this blog post, chances are you recently received a job offer and you’re thinking about negotiating your salary. First and foremost, if this is you, congratulations! Securing the offer is the hard part. And as we’ll show you here, when done correctly, negotiating your salary can actually be as simple as sending a short salary negotiation email.
At 10x Ascend, many of our clients are happy to learn that negotiating “correctly” doesn’t always require face-to-face discussion. While many important conversations in life and business are best done in person, negotiating salary is a bit different. Through 25+ years of negotiating employment deals, we’ve come to learn that a well crafted salary negotiation email is often the most effective tool for getting exactly what you want.
In this post, we’ll teach you how to draft the perfect salary negotiation email. We’ll explain why email is actually better than face-to-face negotiating, and we even offer a salary negotiation email template at the very end. We hope these tips and best practices help you get the best deal possible in your next salary negotiation.
Face to Face Negotiation vs. Salary Negotiation Emails
In this first section, let’s cover a few reasons why salary negotiation emails are better than face-to-face, in-person negotiations.
Taking Advantage of Latency
The first issue posed by face to face negotiation is the lack of latency, or time between sending and receiving communication messages. In other words, when negotiating in person, you’re often forced to answer questions and make decisions on the spot.
Our society is obsessed with reducing latency in all forms of communication. Twitter connects us with world events in a matter of seconds. Cell phones give us the ability to reach people immediately. Slack has taken major market share away from email platforms… largely because it’s faster. We love reducing communication latency.
But when negotiating something important, something that requires thought, consideration, and strategy, chances are you want to actually increase latency! Asynchronous communication plays to your favor here because time is one of your most valuable assets when sitting on a job offer. And as we explain later on, the time afforded by email communication can be used a number of ways to make sure you craft the perfect message and get the best deal possible.
Also remember you’re likely on the other side of the table from someone who has more experience in negotiating job offers. If it is a founder, someone in the C-suite, or someone in HR or recruiting, they do this all the time. So if you’re going up against a strong adversary, at least give yourself the benefit of time, outside advice, and consideration before responding.
Playing Your Cards Right
In some ways, a salary negotiation is a bit like poker. One of your most valuable assets is not giving a reaction. As we hope you’ll learn throughout this post, a great negotiation requires time, patience, and consideration. Impulsive reactions undercut these strategies.
Companies love to make offers over the phone. If this happens to you, we suggest that no matter your feeling about what is presented, you remain calm, say thank you, and explain that you need to digest. In these real-time situations, it’s near impossible to negotiate without the influence of your own emotions. Better to always collect yourself before moving forward with discussions. If you feel like you need to say something, you might say that it is interesting, and you need a little more time to fully digest and respond.
Once you’ve properly digested, you can collect your thoughts in writing and fire off everything you feel needs to be said. More on this later.
Documenting a Single Source of Truth
Rarely is there just one person on the other side of the negotiation table. If all your negotiation discussions take place over the phone, you’ll require those on the other side to play a long game of telephone. Sure, you might articulate everything perfectly to your point person at the company. But nothing ensures that person will relay the information accurately to the rest of their team, and most importantly, the decision makers at the company.
When everything is well-drafted in a salary negotiation email, you’re empowering your own voice and making sure the right message is spread to the right people. Those on the other side will likely forward your email around, mitigating the risk that your words might be misconstrued. Best to get it in writing.
3 Salary Negotiation Email Strategies That Work
Now that we understand some of the reasons why salary negotiation emails are so useful, let’s cover a handful of tactical strategies you can use immediately.
1. Develop the Right Salary Range
If you’ve read our content before, you might already know one of our core teachings with 10x Ascend clients is to always provide a range when discussing salary. In short, doing this allows for a more fluid discussion on the topic. It ensures you don’t peg yourself to a specific number, potentially leaving opportunity on the table.
Now, if you haven’t yet given it a lot of thought and/or research, settling on the right range takes time. And if you feel pressured to disclose a range in a face-to-face interview, you could make a critical, impulsive mistake. Too low and you could leave opportunity on the table. Too high and you might be perceived as unrealistic, or even overqualified.
Through email, taking advantage of the latency factor allows you to ask for an appropriate range that makes sense. Lots of blogs recommend sites like Glassdoor for something like this, and while that might be a good starting point, we actually advise against it. In truth, the range you give should most heavily hinge on what else is in the offer. You would have a very different salary requirement for a company giving you a $1M/year in liquid equity than you would with a company that gave you none.
For the company that skimps on non-salary items, your salary should be higher as a compensatory measure for the things it lacks. By negotiating salary over email, you’re granted sufficient time to review any and all factors that might impact the range you should ask for.
2. Provide a Rationale for Your Negotiation Requests
Not only do salary negotiation emails allow you to land on the right salary range, they let you clearly communicate why you think your rationale is justified.
Whether you’re asking for a certain range because of competing offers, market research, current compensation, risk of leaving a great job, or other aspects of the offer (as discussed above), the rationale can be articulated best over email.
Remember that the point of any job offer negotiation is to reach an agreement that both sides believe is fair. The best way to do this is by taking a stance, communicating clearly, and giving those on the other side of the table every reason to believe you’re justified in your position. You might be surprised how often companies are willing to budge. If your argument is well articulated, they like you enough, and the company has the budget to accommodate your requests, you’ll be in good position to secure the offer you’re after.
3. Thank All Relevant People and Ask Questions
Finally, let’s remember that professionalism is and always will be a key element of job offer negotiations. Through your salary negotiation email, you’ll again be afforded plenty of time to make sure you’ve thanked anyone who deserves to be acknowledged for their involvement in your negotiation. Although a small detail, this one can go a long way.
Just as importantly, negotiating over email allows you to ask well-crafted, well-researched questions. If you’re properly doing diligence, chances are there will be at least one. For example, maybe your offer briefly touches on your vacation package, without diving into details. Well… how much value is packed into that vacation package?
Or maybe you discover your offer includes equity, but doesn’t disclose details about the type of equity. That’s a key detail, and one that can go down many different paths. RSUs, common stock, profit sharing, non-qualified options, incentive options. You get the idea. Nuances like this require clarification, as they will have different implications on your financial situation.
Only once you have the answers to key questions and details about all aspects of your offer, you’ll be properly equipped to negotiate salary. Because once again, salary is just one element. If value is lacking in non-salary areas of the offer, maybe you have a path to requesting a higher salary.
On the other side, if the company has packed value into every part of the deal other than salary, you’ll likely see that reflected in their own justification for offering what they did. We see this most commonly at startups and SMBs, where capital resources aren’t as abundant, and short-term cost-saving measures are reflected in their deal structures.
Salary Negotiation Email Template
Now, piecing it all together, we’ve scraped together a rough salary negotiation email template that might help guide your own draft. For the template, we’ll assume the questions and answer phase (strategy 3 above) has already taken place, and you have all the information necessary to present your salary range. Obviously, the specifics of your email will depend on your own unique situation, so we will keep it high-level.
|Dear <point of contact>,||Salutation|
|First and foremost, I want to again thank you and the entire <company name> team for the offer, and the opportunity to potentially work together. I remain very excited about the <role> position, and wanted to follow up on a few things||Small talk and gratitude|
|My goal for this process is to ensure that I take no steps backwards in my compensation package and lifestyle and also to be fair and reasonable to my new employer/partner.||Show you’re a reasonable person|
|As you know, I am currently exploring a variety of options, and considering offers with base salaries of $x-y and up.||Only if true|
|While base is very important to me, I am also very interested in better understanding other aspects of the offer like equity, title, vacation policy, flextime/remote working policy, room for advancement etc. Is it possible for you to send me a proposal that covers those areas?||You want the whole picture, not an offer in pieces. The base you’re willing to accept should depend on how much value is provided by other aspects of the deal.|
|My goal is to find the right fit for both parties so I can put all of my energy and attention into the work. I love the types of challenges I expect to face in this role, and look forward to resolving this with you quickly, efficiently, and successfully.
I don’t mean to be too detail oriented in this process, but my employment choice will have a tremendous impact on my life and lifestyle so I want to go into this with complete understanding of all the details. I sincerely hope you can understand the need for clarity before making a decision.
|Selling yourself and justifying why you are working hard to make sure you get the right outcome.|
|For full disclosure, I am consulting with an advisor throughout this process who is helping me think through my options. I would like to review the proposal with them as well.||Only if you are working with 10x Ascend or a similar service.|
|Thanks for understanding and for your consideration. I look forward to your reply.||End warmly and with gratitude|