How to Ask for a Higher Starting Salary
Whether you're a recent grad or a seasoned professional, getting a job offer is worth celebrating. But what if the starting salary is lower than you expected?
By the time you receive a job offer, you've already invested a great deal in the position. You've done your research on average starting salaries. You've learned about the company culture and braved multiple rounds of interviews. It can feel like you have to take the job just to make your efforts worth it — even if the offer is lower than you'd like.
Don't let the sunken cost fallacy get the better of you. Instead of accepting a lowball, you should negotiate. But what's the best way to ask for a higher starting salary?
Successful starting salary negotiations require a strategic approach. Here are email templates to ask for a higher starting salary.
How to Ask for a Higher Starting Salary Email Templates
Salary negotiations can trip up even experienced professionals. Start by reminding yourself that hiring managers expect job candidates to negotiate — even for entry-level positions.
According to a Career Builder survey, most job candidates don't negotiate their offers. Yet, the majority of employers say they're willing to negotiate starting pay for entry-level jobs.
In fact, 52% of employers reported intentionally offering a low starting salary to leave room to negotiate. That means employees who don't negotiate leave money on the table — and potentially fall victim to the wage gap. By negotiating confidently, job candidates can often increase their starting salaries.
To help you navigate this process, we've drafted some template emails to use in a few common negotiation scenarios. You can adapt these emails to your needs during the salary negotiation process. Just change the job titles and relevant information, like salary rates, to match your career and research.
The "I'm Open To Negotiating" Email
Sometimes you want a higher starting salary, but you don't want to push too hard. You're willing to accept the offer, but want to test the waters in case you can increase your starting pay. How can you politely indicate to the hiring manager that you're interested in a negotiation?
Dear [Hiring Manager],
I'm excited to start as a junior publicist with your company. Before signing the job offer, I would like to discuss the starting salary for the position.
From my research, the typical entry-level salary in our city is $50,000 for publicist roles. I have a strong portfolio and a background in corporate public relations, making me an exceptional fit for the job. I'd like to discuss increasing the starting salary to match my qualifications.
I am also open to discussing the total compensation package. Let me know if you're open to discussing the salary, and we can proceed from there.
The "Hard No" Email
Sometimes you aren't willing to negotiate on the starting salary. If the company can't hit the number you have in mind, you'd rather walk than take the lower offer. That puts you in a strong position, since the company already offered you the job.
Dear [Hiring Manager],
Thank you for the job offer as a data analyst. I found our interview enlightening and I'm confident your company would be a great fit for me. I'd like to discuss the starting salary before signing the offer.
During the interview, we discussed a starting salary in the $60,000-$75,000 range, and the offer lists a $60,000 starting salary. Because of my experience and education, including a bachelor's degree in business analytics and five years as a data analyst with a top company, I'm looking for a starting salary of no less than $70,000.
Please let me know if a $70,000 starting salary works for your company.
The "Match My Other Offer" Email
Here's the best scenario for asking for a higher starting salary: when you have another job offer. If you're deciding between two companies, ask directly whether the hiring manager can match your other offer.
This scenario still requires a thoughtful approach. The other offer might fall through, or you may find these career contacts useful in the future, so you don't want to be rude. Also, don't ask a company to match another offer if you're certain you're not going to take the job.
Dear [Hiring Manager],
Thank you for your email detailing the job offer with your company. I'm enthusiastic about the role of lead nurse.
However, I recently received a lead nurse job offer from another hospital with a starting salary of $80,000 per year. Would you be able to match that salary? I'm interested in finding common ground because of your hospital's commitment to nursing research. Please let me know if an $80,000 starting salary works for your organization.
Tips and Strategies for Salary Negotiations
Don't talk yourself out of negotiating your starting salary. Remember that your work is valuable. But do keep a few tips in mind while negotiating.
Stay professional throughout the process and demonstrate your excitement about the offer. People will be more likely to help you if they like you.
When asking for a higher salary, cite data to support your requests. For example, mention industry salary data, the organization's hiring bands, and your experience and preparation for the role.
Finally, ask clearly for what you want. Avoid vague questions, like "Can you increase the salary?" or "Is there flexibility on the starting salary?" Instead, be specific and frame the negotiation around the salary you deserve.
If you play your cards right, you'll walk away with a bigger paycheck.
Cheat Sheet to Increase Your Starting Salary Offer
Express enthusiasm about the position
Cite data about industry salary rates at your experience level
Be clear with your ask, especially if you have a hard minimum number
Consider other benefits, like PTO and remote work options
Do not mention your bills or other personal factors during the negotiation
Keep it professional and be honest about your expectations
Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. After earning her doctorate in early modern European history, Carlton worked as an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville, where she developed new courses on the history of science, Renaissance Italy, and the witch trials. Carlton has published five peer-reviewed articles in top presses and a monograph with the University of Chicago Press. She also earned tenure with a unanimous vote before relocating to Seattle. Learn more about Carlton's work at genevievecarlton.com.
Header Image Credits: Constantine Johnny, skynesher, Katharina Esterline / EyeEm, C.J. Burton | Getty Images
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