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

You know you should probably negotiate your salary, and that means starting with a counter offer. But how? What do you say? Should you negotiate your salary over email? Call the recruiter you’ve been working with? Reach out to the hiring manager?

The best way to counter offer is with this salary negotiation email template. This is a real counter offer letter used in a real salary negotiation.

Keep reading after the salary negotiation letter sample for a detailed explanation of how you can use this template to counter offer and negotiate your starting salary.

Looking for a salary increase letter sample to ask for a raise? Here you go! How to ask for a raise in writing

To: Brittany Jones <[email protected]> [recruiter]
CC: Katherine Thompson <[email protected]> [recruiter’s manager]
Subject: Josh Doody - My thoughts on Tom’s verbal offer


Hi Brittany

I hope you had a great weekend!

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

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 [Partner Company] 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.

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.

Tom offered $50,000 and I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $56,000. 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.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to talking with you on Monday morning at 10:30 ET!

All the best

Josh Doody
[email protected]

This counter offer letter might look like a big block of text, but there’s a lot going on here and all of it is by design. Let’s dig deeper.

Open with a greeting

This email is addressed to the recruiter I’ve been working with throughout the hiring process, not the hiring manager who extended the verbal job offer. This recruiter has been my primary point of contact throughout the job interview process so I will negotiate with this same recruiter as well.

Even small things like “I hope you had a great weekend!” can help build rapport with the recruiter. That could be beneficial later on in the salary negotiation process when you need them to go to bat for you.

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

Then cut to the chase 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.

Don’t list your counter offer yet because because you want to make your case before you make a specific ask.

Make your case

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 to start by making your case in this counter offer email:

1. Make 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. Why? Because sometimes a wall of text can work in your favor. After one or two sentences, it’s pretty obvious this a long list of really 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. It’s a long, dense paragraph specifically so the recruiter will finally 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. Give 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. And sometimes they’ll need further approval.

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 tell them your case verbally, 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, you’re giving them a well-written counter offer letter 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.

Re-state the job offer

Briefly summarize the job offer so that 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.

Make your counter offer (finally!)

State your counter offer in a firm but neutral way. “…I would be more comfortable if we can settle on $56,000.” 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.

“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.

Confirm or request next steps

In this case, I had already scheduled a follow up call to discuss my job offer with the recruiter on Monday at 10:30 AM, so I simply confirmed that meeting time.

If you don’t have a meeting time or clear next steps, be sure to ask what comes next. “Thanks for your time, and please let me know our next steps.”

Send your own counter offer example to someone you trust for review

Finally, after you use the counter offer letter sample above to write your own salary negotiation letter, send it to a couple friends or family members for review. They might find some 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.

What's next? To determine your counter offer or plan your next steps after sending this salary negotiation email, use this salary negotiation script!