A Counter Offer Letter is your response to an employer whose offer does not meet your expectations. It empowers you to negotiate the salary and benefits for your potential job in a formal and respectful way.
The letter demonstrates that you are interested in the position but that you expect better compensation before you will accept the job. Many employers purposefully offer lower salaries in a first offer and expect you to negotiate further.
When to Use
A counter offer letter is particularly relevant if you are seeking a higher salary or improved benefits beyond what was originally proposed. The initial offer may not match your experience and could lack vital benefits like vacation days, health insurance, and disability leave, which are important for you and your family.
Some job applicants hesitate to write a counter offer letter for fear of offending the potential employer. However, many employers expect you to negotiate the terms of your employment and are open to fair negotiations if they are genuinely interested in you.
Large companies are more likely to accept a counter offer than small businesses, which may reject your counter offer if it is not within their budget to pay more. Counter offers are also more common for professional positions and those above entry level. However, you should not hesitate to use a counter offer letter if the terms are unacceptable.
What to Include
Your counter offer letter should include all of the following:
- Address Details: Your letter should include the employer’s contact details and your information. This contact information should be clearly listed at the top in traditional business letter format.
- Introduction: Your counter offer should identify who you are writing the letter to, such as “Dear …” It should also thank the person for the job offer and express your interest in joining the company.
- Counter Proposal: The letter should state that you have carefully considered the offer and would like to propose specific changes. It should clearly outline what you want to modify from the original offer, such as the job title, salary, or benefits package. It should also include why you believe the counter offer is more appropriate than the original one.
- Further Negotiations: Your counter offer letter should also recognize that the proposal is beyond the scope of the original offer but that you are open to further negotiations. Respectfully request the changes while again expressing your interest in joining the company.
- Signature: The letter should conclude with again thanking the employer for the opportunity, followed by your signature. Your signature is a personal touch but also conforms with typical business letter practices.
Avoid a few common mistakes when writing a counter offer proposal:
- Refrain from asking for increased pay or benefits while stating you will take the job as originally offered. You are simply bargaining against yourself by doing so.
- Never include accusatory language, such as: “Your original offer was unfairly low, but I’d be willing to accept…”
- Do not be disheartened if the company counter-proposes your counter offer. Many companies want a strong negotiator and expect a few rounds of negotiation before accepting your employment.
With a counter offer letter template, you can ensure all the details you need are included without creating one from scratch. The form will help you convey a respectful tone while clearly asking for the improved employment offer you desire.
How to Counter a Job Offer
You must prepare your counter offer letter in advance. It will help you effectively communicate your expectations respectfully and directly. Employers appreciate professional responses that are clear, concise, and appropriate. Follow each of these steps:
Step 1: Do Your Research Thoroughly
Thoroughly research the position you applied for. Know the market and what similar positions are offered regarding salary and benefits. Compare the industry standard along with the cost of living in that area to ensure your compensation is appropriate for the money it will take to live in that city.
A well-researched counter offer can provide facts about why the original proposal was too low. Relying on data rather than personal feelings adds validity to your request and demonstrates your value as a potential employee.
Step 2: Emphasize Your Skills and Added Value to the Company
Identify your unique skills that are most in-demand by the company. This potential employer offered you the job for a reason. Focus on the specific skill set and why it will add value to the company.
Doing so demonstrates that you understand what the employer is looking for and why your counter offer is appropriate. It is a subtle and respectful way to show why the original proposal was too low without using accusatory language.
Step 3: Propose a Reasonable Counter Offer in Line with the Market
In your counter offer letter, state what you need to accept the job. Make sure your request is fair and in line with market standards for similar positions. Employers are more likely to agree to reasonable requests backed by market comparisons than excessive and unwarranted demands.
Your proposal should begin negotiations from a position of strength and intelligence, backed by well-researched information and a clear understanding of your own worth and the market conditions.
Step 4: Consider Non-Monetary Benefits
Salary is important, but there are other things you should consider in an employment contract. Analyze non-monetary benefits as well. These include:
- Vacation days
- Other paid leave policy
- Health, vision, and life insurance offerings
- Supplemental benefits or programs, such as a gym membership
- Work-from-home availability
- Moving expenses and travel benefits
- Retirement plans and matching
You can negotiate these non-monetary benefits the same as you would your salary.
Step 5: Be Polite But Firm in Your Request
Use direct, formal language to make your request. Be polite and avoid insinuating that the employer was unfair in the original offer. While you want to remain respectful, be firm in making your request. State what you want in clear and concise terms to avoid any misunderstandings.
Step 6: Compromise During the Salary Negotiation Process
The employer may accept, or it may instead counter your counter offer. This should be expected and viewed as a positive, not a negative. Compromise is the heart of business negotiations, including salary and benefits negotiations. If the employer’s newest proposal is acceptable, do not hesitate to take it.
Feel free to negotiate further if you think the counter offer is still too low. Indicate your appreciation that the employer is willing to continue discussions, and request your newest counter proposal directly. Negotiations may take several rounds, and both parties will likely compromise from their initial offers. This can be beneficial to you both.
Step 7: Prepare for the Employer’s Response
An employer may respond in one of a few ways:
- Withdraw the employment offer.
- Reject the counter offer but continue to offer the position under the original terms.
- Counter with another proposal to continue negotiations.
- Accept your counter offer.
Step 8: Make Your Final Informed Decision
Once negotiations are finished, it is time for the outcome. Make an informed decision about the company’s willingness to negotiate, if the new offer is fair, and whether you are willing to accept what has been offered. If the final offer is unacceptable, do not hesitate to walk away.
Negotiating your salary may seem a little daunting, especially if you have never done it before. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Be patient: Always exercise patience when negotiating with an employer. Counter offers may take several days or even weeks, depending on the nature of the negotiations. Also, be patient with whatever response you receive. Accept negotiations with kindness and professionalism, even if your counter offer is rejected. It’s possible that you will cross paths with this employer again.
- Be informed: Research the job, similar positions, the market, and the industry so you are fully informed going into negotiations. Your research can make or break your negotiation position, so do your examination well before getting started. Use legitimate resources and hard data to support your case.
- Consider a reasonable compromise: You will not always get exactly what you ask for. Instead, the employer may return with a reasonable counter offer of its own. Be open to compromise if it fits with what you need for yourself or your family.
- Negotiate more than salary: Negotiate not just your underlying pay but also your employment benefits. These benefits are often critical to your choice of whether to accept a position. Some employers are open to negotiation on these.
- Avoid ultimatums: Refrain from making statements such as “I will not accept a salary lower than …” unless this is truly a hard line for you. The best negotiations leave room for compromise. Employers may feel pressured or disrespected by an ultimatum. Using different language to accomplish the same results is easy.
- Put everything in writing: Make sure your negotiations are written down, and keep copies of any negotiation documents. If you negotiate in a meeting or over the phone, take contemporaneous notes of what happened so you have a record of the negotiations.
- Practice negotiating: Negotiating is a skill and one you should practice. Ideally, practice with a friend or family member whom you trust and who will give honest feedback. Their constructive criticism and comments could help you improve your negotiating skills greatly.
Benefits of Writing a Counter Offer Letter
There are several benefits of writing a counter offer letter, especially when you use a template to help you get started:
- Higher potential salary.
- Better benefits than the original offer.
- Demonstrates your negotiating skills.
- Shows the employer your professionalism and knowledge.
- More comfortable than negotiating in person.
- Provides a record of the negotiations.
Counter Offer Letter Sample
Create a counter offer letter by using our downloadable template, available in Word and PDF.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if my counter offer is rejected?
If your counter offer is rejected, decide whether you are willing to accept the original offer. If not, move on and do not take it personally. You deserve to accept the benefits and salary you need.
How much should I counter offer salary?
Your salary counter offer should be both reasonable and based on research. There is no set percentage or amount you should ask for, but your request should not be excessively higher than the original offer. However, if you are unwilling to accept something lower than a particular amount, ask for it in your letter without making it an ultimatum.
What is too high of a counter offer?
A counter offer is too high if it is unreasonably more than the original offer. This will depend on the job market for similar positions and other facts you find in your research. However, an offer for 20% additional pay is more likely to succeed than one for 75% additional pay.
How many times can I counter a job offer?
You can counter a job offer as many times as it takes to get an acceptable resolution. It may take several rounds of negotiations before you both agree on a fair employment agreement.