Negotiating job offers

Should you negotiate your salary over email?

Why email is the best way to negotiate your salary (and why phone negotiations are bad)

by Josh Doody

You should definitely negotiate your salary over email whenever possible. Not only will you avoid being outmaneuvered by a professional negotiator, but you’ll be able to make your case in your own words so that anyone who needs to approve your request will have everything they need to make that decision.

There are two main reasons you should negotiate your salary over email.

1. Recruiters are professional negotiators—you aren’t

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. On a phone call, they’re almost certainly going to be more comfortable than you, make fewer mistakes, and generally “win” the negotiation most of the time.

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.

But you can change the venue of your negotiation by moving it from the phone over to email. Sending a salary negotiation email is better because you can be more deliberate with every word, so you can carefully articulate your counter offer and make your case. That will level the playing field and mitigate a lot of their advantages in the negotiation.

2. You will make your case better than your recruiter

But let’s say you’re actually very comfortable negotiating on the phone. You’re able to articulate your case, quash objections, and avoid pitfalls that recruiters might use to control the negotiation.

If you negotiate well, your “ask” will often require approvals from different people in the company—the Hiring Manager, Executives, the Comp Team, Finance, or other stakeholders who are brought in to make compensation exceptions for the best talent.

In order to get approvals, your recruiter will need to take your case to them and ask for an “Exception” (in quotes because it’s a technical term at a lot of Big Tech companies). They (the stakeholders) will want to know why they should make an exception. So 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 they are in silly children’s games.

The issue is that, as I mentioned earlier, your recruiter is working on a lot of deals at any given time, and they’re just not going to be all that familiar with you, the specific role you’re considering, the team you’re joining, and other extremely relevant details.

On the other hand, you are familiar with all those things—probably better than anyone.

What about negotiating a raise? Should you do that over email too?

Yes! In most cases, you will be negotiating with your Manager as opposed to a recruiter.

While your Manager may not be as experienced at negotiating as a recruiter, and they might even want you to get a raise, you still need to make a case to get approvals for additional compensation.

Managers are busy, and they’re just not going to put the care into making that case that you will. When they go to HR, the Finance team, or whoever would need to approve a raise for you, they’ll get much better results if they can provide a written case that clearly articulates the reasons you should get a raise.

You’re the best person to make that case, and the best place to write that case is in an email that they can forward to the powers that be.

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