Negotiating job offers

How to write a salary negotiation email (with 11 proven templates and a sample)

Everything you need to write the perfect salary negotiation email to make your counter offer

by Josh Doody

You have a job offer, which means you successfully navigated the tricky job interview process. Congrats!

You’re probably here because you initially felt a sense of relief—you got the offer!—and then you started thinking ahead, realizing that you have an opportunity here and you don’t want to squander it. You could just accept the offer, but what if you leave money on the table?

So you decided to negotiate—fantastic! But how do you reply to an offer letter or verbal job offer to begin negotiating your salary? What do you say?

What you’ll learn about writing your salary negotiation email…

Why you should negotiate your salary over email

You should handle your salary negotiation over email whenever possible.

The reason is that recruiters—the people you’ll usually be negotiating salary with—are essentially professional negotiators who do this every day for a living. In a single day, they might negotiate more job offers than you’ll negotiate in your entire career, so they’re almost certainly going to be more comfortable, make fewer mistakes, and generally “win” the negotiation most of the time.

Sending a salary negotiation email is better for you because you can be more deliberate with every word, you can carefully articulate your counter offer and make your case, and because emails can be circulated internally among the decision makers who might need to approve a higher salary for you.

When you negotiate salary on the phone, you’re more likely to make mistakes due to nervousness or a simple lack of familiarity with the salary negotiation process. It’s also difficult to succinctly state your case for why you’re an exceptional candidate for the position when you’re nervous and feeling rushed on a phone call.

And even if you make your case well, then you’re at the mercy of the recruiter to clearly communicate that case to the other decision makers and approvers who are involved behind the scenes in the salary negotiation process. You’re literally playing “The Telephone Game” with your salary negotiation, but miscommunications during a salary negotiation aren’t nearly as funny as silly children’s games.

So you should definitely conduct your salary negotiation over email, but how?

The brief phase of the negotiation between the time you get a job offer and when you make your counter offer sets the table for the entire salary negotiation and will have a substantial impact on your final compensation.

Let’s walk through how to negotiate your salary over email with a step-by-step process, going field-by-field through a salary negotiation email sample.

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In this free 5-email series, I will show you how to conquer that feeling for good.

      Salary negotiation email sample

      The best way to counter offer is with an email. Not only does an email give you time to carefully outline your reasons for counter offering, but an email can be circulated within the company in the event that they need to use the financial approval process to allocate additional funds to grant your request.

      Here’s a sample of a standard salary negotiation email, based on a real counter offer used in a real salary negotiation. I’ve changed the names and numbers, but otherwise it’s copied and pasted from my Sent email folder.

      We’ll use this salary negotiation email sample as our reference as we walk through each component below.

      Who to send your salary negotiation email to

      Here’s a good rule of thumb for who to send your salary negotiation email to: Always send the counter offer to whoever made you the offer, and consider copying others if they were directly involved in the offer process or if you know they are awaiting your decision.

      If there is a single obvious person that you have been interacting with about your job offer, then you should email them directly. This is probably going to be your recruiter, or at least the “closing” recruiter (the one who actually made you the offer). Your counter offer will be sent directly to your recruiter and only your recruiter probably 90% of the time.

      Occasionally, you will have interacted with multiple people during the job offer process. For example, you may have worked with a recruiter throughout the interview process, and then your hiring manager actually extended the job offer. In this case, you might send your counter offer to your hiring manager and copy your recruiter since they are likely waiting for your decision and will probably be involved in your salary negotiation.

      The Subject of your salary negotiation email

      The purpose of the Subject line in your email is to make sure it gets read, and doesn’t get missed or forgotten. So you want it to be as obvious as possible what you’re writing about.

      If you already have an email thread going with your recruiter—for example, if they extended your job offer over email, or if you have an email from them where they told you to expect a phone call with a job offer soon—then you can just reply to that thread and keep it going. There’s no need to make a new thread with a new subject line if you already have a perfectly good thread going.

      But if there’s not an obvious thread to continue, then you’ll need to write your salary negotiation email from scratch. That means you need a subject that will make it extremely obvious to your recruiter that you are counter offering, and you’ll want them to be able to find that very important email easily when they need it later.

      So you want to include your name, the company’s name, and the fact that this email is regarding a job offer.

      Here’s what that looks like in the salary negotiation email sample we’re using as our guide:

      Josh Doody - My thoughts on ACME Corp’s job offer

      There’s no need to be creative or clever. Make it as obvious as possible.

      The contents of your salary negotiation email

      Now we’re into the body of your salary negotiation email and every component we discuss here is critical to a well-written counter offer.

      Open with a greeting

      Hi Brittany

      I hope you had a great weekend!

      Including a personal comment like “I hope you had a great weekend!” can help build rapport with the recruiter. It’s good to make it clear that you are working with them as a collaborator on the salary negotiation process. If you can avoid an adversarial relationship with your recruiter, then that’s a good thing. You want them to want to help you!

      Suggest that you want to counter offer, but do not name the amount yet

      I’ve been considering your offer over the weekend and everything sounds good, although I would like to discuss the base salary component.

      Notice that the salary negotiation email sample cuts to the chase quickly so that this section shows up in the email preview pane if possible: You’re pretty happy with the job offer, but you want to talk about the base salary component. In other words: you want to counter offer.

      You’ll notice that you don’t state your counter offer yet because because you want to make your case before you make a specific ask. Making your case is a major component of your salary negotiation email, and it will take up a lot of space. But before you get there, you want them to know that there’s a counter offer coming… later.

      Make your case

      Now you’ll write the longest paragraph in the email: your case to justify your counter offer.

      Why spend all this time making your case instead of just getting to the point and making your counter offer? There are two main reasons:

      1. A strong case makes your counter offer more compelling and easier to accept

      By making your case before your counter offer, you’re reinforcing the fact that you will add significant value to the company in this role. The better your case, the more reasonable your counter offer will seem.

      This is the longest paragraph in the entire email because sometimes a wall of text can work in your favor. After one or two sentences, it should be pretty obvious that this is a long list of compelling reasons that you’re a good fit for the company. It’s one of the few times it’s a good thing if the recruiter doesn’t read the entire paragraph. This paragraph is specifically designed so the recruiter will eventually think, “Ok, I get it! You’re the perfect candidate for this job! 🙄 What’s it going to cost to bring you on board?”

      Don’t go overboard here, but it’s ok if this paragraph is a little long. Six or seven reasons that you’re a good fit for the role should do it.

      2. Gives the recruiter a written case to circulate internally

      Sometimes, the recruiter will have an approved salary range they can accommodate and they’ll have authority to negotiate with you directly without further approval. Other times, they’ll need run your counter offer up the approval chain to see what’s possible.

      When they need further approval, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to make a strong case to justify the additional salary. You could state your case verbally—on a phone call—but then you’re counting on them to remember everything and convey it to Finance or whoever can approve additional budget for your salary.

      Instead, give them a well-written counter offer email that they can circulate along with their request for additional budget. You will make your own case much better than they will, so giving them your case in writing allows you to make your best case to whoever needs to approve your final salary.

      Salary Negotiation Email - State your case
      Salary Negotiation Email Template - An example of how to state your case

      How to write a compelling case to support your counter offer

      Here is the paragraph that makes this case from our salary negotiatione email sample above:

      I think I’m a particularly good match for this position, where I would add significant value to ACME Corp. and to the Tom’s Practice from Day One. I have a strong technical background and have built and managed teams of technical people. I am exceptionally good with clients, and have taught short courses on building rapport with and managing clients. I have an MBA and have successfully managed many portfolios of business in the Widget Making industry over the past seven years. I’ve been working with OtherCo for over two and a half years, and have experience with many of their partnership managers and leadership team. I have a strong technical writing background and can both create and delegate the creation of good collateral quickly and efficiently.

      Notice that the entire case is based on qualifications, expertise, skills, tenure, and other things unique to the person writing the email?

      That’s because the absolute best case you can make for more compensation is a value-based case. In other words, a case based on the unique value and skills you’ll bring to the role as opposed to market value analysis, your old salary, or other similar data points.

      To bolster our value-based case for your counter offer, you need to articulate why you are a uniquely good fit for this particular role.

      All you need is a few (3–4) bullet points describing how you will bring value to the role and what impact that value will have on your new team and the company writ large.

      For each bullet, there are two main components:

      1. The skill or experience you have that is valuable to this team or to the company in general.
      2. How that skill or experience will benefit the team by either helping accomplish its goals or by helping overcome challenges they’re currently facing.

      Here are a few examples:

      • I have 10 years of experience with algorithms applied to voice controlled devices, and I will bring that expertise to this project to help accelerate the time to market significantly.
      • I have five years of experience building internal tooling that was used by our entire organization, so I will help the team build customer-facing tooling and dashboards that are easy to use, and help facilitate customer discovery of new, useful features.
      • I’ve been working in Agile organizations for 10 years and am a certified Scrum Master, so I can help the team implement Agile methodology and show the team exactly what to focus on and what to avoid.

      This will be the most difficult part of your salary negotiation email to write, but it is extremely important, so don’t skip this!

      And then you need to transition to the counter offer, so our sample includes a short transition paragraph that also serves as a short summary of your case:

      All of these qualities contribute directly to the core components of this particular position, and that’s why I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Tom and his Practice in this capacity at ACME Corp.

      Re-state the job offer and state your counter offer (finally!)

      Now we’re getting to the good stuff: it’s time to counter offer.

      You offered $100,000 and I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $115,000. I feel that amount reflects the importance and expectations of the position for ACME Corp’s business, and my qualifications and experience as they relate to this particular position.

      Before you counter, it’s good to briefly summarize the job offer so there’s no confusion or miscommunication. If you received a verbal job offer, you want to be sure the recruiter is aware of that offer and that it matches what they were told by the hiring manager. If you received a written job offer letter, then summarizing the job offer is just a formality, but it’s still useful.

      If there has been any miscommunication around your job offer, now is the time to find out.

      And then state your counter offer in a firm but neutral way. “I would be more comfortable if we can settle on $115,000.” is a good way to phrase your counter offer. It’s not combative, but it is firm and makes it easy for the recruiter to simply reply with “Ok, we can do that.” if it’s within the approved salary range.

      It might be tempting to back off a little bit here, but it’s important that your counter offer is perceived as a serious proposal and not just a weak probe.

      “Are you sure you can’t do any better?” is not firm or neutral. That makes it very easy for the recruiter to simply say, “I’m sorry, we can’t.” By stating the actual amount along with “…I would be more comfortable…”, you’re forcing the recruiter to acknowledge the amount you counter offered and respond to that specific amount while making it tougher to simply say “No.”

      Immediately after your counter offer, summarize your case in a single sentence, just to remind them of the great case you made earlier.

      Close out with a friendly sign-off

      Just as you opened your salary negotiation email with a kind greeting to emphasize that you want to work with your recruiter as a collaborator, you should end the email the same way.

      Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

      All the best

      Josh Doody

      That is a kind sign-off and it makes clear that the next action is with your recruiter since you have now counter offered. The ball is in their court!

      After you write your own salary negotiation email, send it to a couple friends or family members for review. They might find typos or suggest some ways you can tighten it up or make it better. You can always remove the specific details of your job offer and counter offer if you’re not comfortable sharing them.

      You've changed jobs before and felt like you were leaving money on the table. You never have to feel that way again.

      In this free 5-email series, I will show you how to conquer that feeling for good.

          11 Salary negotiation email templates you can use to negotiate salary

          Here are some salary negotiation email templates you can use to negotiate your job offer.

          1. Salary negotiation email—Ask for time to consider the job offer

          As soon as you get your offer, the first thing you should do is ask for some time to consider the job offer so that you can regroup and use this article to write a compelling salary negotiation email.

          Your job offer will probably be of the informal variety, and you’ll either be told the details on a phone call with a hiring manager or recruiter, or the details will be emailed to you.

          Here’s what to say to get some time to consider your job offer when it’s shared over the phone:

          Thank you so much for your job offer. Do you mind if I take a couple of days to consider your offer and discuss this opportunity with my family?

          They’ll almost certainly say, “Sure! I look forward to hearing what you think, and please let me know if you have any questions.”

          And now you’ve moved the conversation off of the phone and into email.

          Sometimes, you’ll get the job offer via email and you can just respond to that email and ask for more time. You can also respond with an email to a verbal offer made by the hiring manager or recruiter with an email.

          Here’s an email template you can use to reply to your job offer letter while you write your salary negotiation email:

          2. Salary negotiation email—Standard template

          Here is a templatized version of the salary negotiation email sample we walked through above:

          3. Salary negotiation email—Negotiating a lowball job offer

          If you’ve gotten a lowball job offer, it’s possible you won’t be able to salvage it, and you may end up simply telling the company what your minimum requirements are to see if they can meet them.

          But first, you can use a version of the salary negotiation email we’ve been reviewing—I call this the lowball technique—to encourage them to revise their offer and try again. The technique is pretty simple: tell the recruiter or hiring manager that the offer is disappointing and ask whether they can make any improvements.

          Essentially, you’re trying to get them to negotiate against themselves to improve the offer before you counter offer. This will often induce the company to improve your job offer and try again, hopefully with a base salary that’s closer to or even above your minimum acceptable salary.

          Here’s a salary negotiation email template to ask for a substantial improvement in your job offer in the case that you have received a lowball offer:

          4. Salary negotiation email—Counter offering with your minimum acceptable salary

          Sometimes, the lowball technique will result in an improved job offer that you can negotiate with a standard counter offer. But sometimes the company will stand pat, indicating their offer is already about as strong as they’re comfortable with.

          This usually means you won’t take the job because the offer is so far below your minimum acceptable salary that you can’t negotiate up to your minimum using standard techniques. Still, it can’t hurt to give them one last opportunity to meet your minimum acceptable salary by explicitly telling them what it will take to bring you onto their team.

          When you’re countering with your minimum, it’s important to be sure you counter offer in a way that makes it clear you cannot accept the opportunity if they are unable to meet your minimum requirements. You would typically send this after you have gotten a response to the lowball technique described earlier in this article.

          The wording in this version of your salary negotiation letter will be much less collaborative and more firm: “…the base salary needs to be…” as opposed to “…I would be more comfortable if we could settle on…”

          That so you can be absolutely sure the recruiter understands that this number is no longer negotiable.

          5. Salary negotiation email—Counter offering and letting the company know you are considering other offers

          One of the most common questions my coaching clients ask about negotiating salary is whether they should get multiple job offers and use them as leverage in their salary negotiation with the company they really want to work with.

          In general, I don’t think that’s a good tactic. But! This moment in the salary negotiation—when you’re delivering your counter offer—is the perfect time to alert the company that you’re considering multiple job offers so they are incentivized to improve their offer to convince you to join their team.

          It doesn’t take much, and you can do this very subtly.

          Before your signature, include a note that you’re considering other opportunities. This will send a strong signal to the recruiter that they not only need to make you a strong offer, but that it needs to be strong enough to compel you to accept their offer over the other company’s.

          You don’t need to tell them which companies have made you offers or share the details of those offers at this stage. You might share those details later if you’re strongly leaning toward accepting another company’s offer and you would consider working for this company if they can meet or exceed that other offer.

          When you’re negotiating salary over email, simply mentioning competing offers is sufficient. No need to go into great detail.

          You've changed jobs before and felt like you were leaving money on the table. You never have to feel that way again.

          In this free 5-email series, I will show you how to conquer that feeling for good.

              6. Salary negotiation email—following up on your counter offer email

              As soon as you hit Send on your counter offer email, you’ll breathe a small sigh of relief because your work is done. Then about 30 minutes later, you’ll feel nervous and think, “Why haven’t they replied yet?!” It’s normal to feel this way, and it’s normal for the recruiter to take a while to get back to you.

              Most recruiters are communicating with several candidates at any given time. They’re very, very busy. So it could be a few hours before they even see your counter offer, and then they’ll likely need to compare it to the approved salary range for the job you’re pursuing, and possibly go talk to Finance or the Hiring Manager about your counter offer to see how much they can accommodate you.

              These things all take time.

              Of course, you’re focused on this particular offer and it’s extremely important to you because it will literally affect the next several years of your life in many ways. You care so much that you read a long article on how to negotiate your salary over email, carefully selected the right counter offer for your situation, wrote and edited your own counter offer email, sent it to friends or family to get feedback, edited it, and finally sent it back to the recruiter.

              You’re laser focused on this one negotiation, whereas the recruiter is bouncing from offer to offer, just trying to keep up.

              All that to say: Be patient and give it some time. They’ll get back to you eventually because their job is to fill the role you’re interviewing for.

              But if you haven’t heard back from them after two or three business days (weekends don’t count!), it might help to send a short email to touch base, move your negotiation to the top of their list, and make sure you didn’t miss an email or phone call at some point.

              You don’t need to ask how they feel about your counter offer, whether they can accommodate it, or anything like that. You don’t want them to know you’re sweating the negotiation—you’re just casually checking in to make sure they’re not waiting on you.

              7. Salary negotiation email—Making your final ask

              After you’ve counted, things will move quickly, and you might have one last opportunity to improve your offer in some dimension. Here’s a template you can use to make your final ask in your salary negotiation:

              8. Declining a job offer (accepted another position) after your salary negotiation

              Here’s a salary negotiation email that you may not have considered: declining a job offer. Once you know have negotiated the best possible version of your salary, you’ll need to decide whether to decline or accept the job offer and while this isn’t traditional negotiation, it’s more of a long-term salary negotiation. You want to make sure that, even though you have negotiated this job offer aggressively and are not deciding not to join the company, you part ways on good terms so that the door remains open to future opportunities.

              This salary negotiation email example will enable you to let them down easy if you have decided to go with another company.

              9. Declining a job offer (not a good fit) after your salary negotiation

              This salary negotiation email template is similar to the one above, except instead of going with another opportunity, you’re simply declining this opportunity outright. This can be uncomfortable, and you don’t want to belabor the point: just tell them you have decided that this job is a good fit for you.

              Your recruiter will probably be frustrated, but this salary negotiation email template will help you communicate your decision directly while hopefully maintaining a positive working relationship with them in case you encounter them again in the future.

              10. Accepting a job offer after your salary negotiation

              Here is a chance to send a good-news email immediately after a successful salary negotiation!

              You’ll notice that you’re delivering the good news and also ensuring that things keep moving along by asking about next steps. This is important because the salary negotiation process is technically over, but you have not yet joined their team. You want to make absolutely sure that you sign the paperwork and begin the onboarding process as soon as possible. This email template will help you keep things moving.

              11. Salary negotiation email—accepting a job offer (start date constraints)

              Sometimes you’ll complete the entire salary negotiation process, maximize compensation, and still have one or two things to finalize. Hopefully, you asked for the most significant things in your final ask, but you might still have one or two small things you would like to shore up before you officially sign on the dotted line.

              Start date is one things that might be important enough to negotiate, but not important enough to take precedence over bigger-ticket items like base salary, equity, bonus structure, etc.

              But with good timing and this salary negotiation email template, you can confirm your acceptance and negotiate your start date. Why are you still able to negotiate even after you accepted the job offer? Although you have accepted the compensation package, you have not yet signed the paperwork, which means you still have some leverage in the negotiation. This salary negotiation email template essentially communicates to your recruiter that you’re on board, but that you would like to get one more concession before you actually sign the paperwork.

              Since they’re so close to closing this deal, they’re very likely to work with your hiring manager to be as flexible as possible on the start date.

              Common questions about writing a salary negotiation email

              Here are some of the most common questions about writing a salary negotiation email.

              How much should I counter offer?

              This is extremely dependent on your specific situation, but the general answer is somewhere between 10% and 20% above their offer.

              If you need help deciding how much to counter offer, or which dimension(s) to counter on, then Salary Negotiation Mastery could be right for you!

              What happens after I counter offer?

              The short answer is that your recruiter will probably call you pretty quickly (often within just a few minutes) to respond. You’ll want to be ready for that call so you know what to do, and this article has tips to help you prep for this stage of your negotiation: How to negotiate salary: 9 tips from a pro salary negotiator.

              What if they rescind my offer when I negotiate?

              This almost never happens. If it does happen, it’s a serious red flag about the company you are negotiating with and you might want to consider waiting for a better opportunity. Read about this red flag and others here: Are you sure you want to accept that job offer? Avoid these red flags

              How many times can I go back and forth asking for more?

              Two or three requests is the sweet spot. Any more than that and you might start to affect your reputation within your new company.

              Salary Negotiation Mastery will walk you through how to decide what to ask for and how to know when you have negotiated the best possible compensation.


              The best way to begin the salary negotiation is by sending a salary negotiation email.

              The first thing you should do when you get a job offer is ask for some time to think it over using this template.

              Then, evaluate your job offer relative to your minimum acceptable salary to determine if you can negotiate using standard techniques or if you’ve received a lowball offer that might benefit from a unique tactic you can employ with this template.

              Once you’re ready to counter offer, use the salary negotiation email sample to build your case and send your counter offer. There are also a couple of minor variations that may come in handy if your situation is unique.

              If you don’t hear back after a few days, you might want to follow-up to make sure you’re still on the recruiter’s radar and that you didn’t miss any emails or phone calls. This template will help you check in.

              Then it’s time to prepare for your Final Discussion, where you’ll hash out all the final details of your compensation package.

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              You've changed jobs before and felt like you were leaving money on the table. You never have to feel that way again.

              In this free 5-email series, I will show you how to conquer that feeling for good.

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