They’ve finally made you an offer, and they threw out the first number because you didn’t give in to the dreaded salary question. Now what? You need to determine your counter.

This is an important step because you will almost certainly be leaving money on the table if you don’t counter. It’s very unlikely that the company offered you the maximum amount they’re willing to pay because they usually leave some room to negotiate in case you do counter.

I’ve made this strategy as straightforward as possible so that it is easy to follow, even when you’re under pressure.

“But what if I really like the offer?”

You could just accept it, but I don’t recommend that because if they immediately made you an offer you really like, there’s a pretty good chance you underestimated your market value when you set your minimum acceptable salary. You should re-evaluate your answers to the questions you used to set your minimum acceptable salary, focusing on your market value, how badly they need you, and how badly you need this job.

In fact, now is a good time to go back and look at those answers to refresh your memory before we jump into the numbers. Go ahead, take a few minutes to review the answers you gave when you set your minimum acceptable salary, then come back here and we’ll figure out your aggression factor and use that to calculate your counter offer.

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