A job seeker wrote in concerned she low-balled her own offer –
I just came out of a second interview.. with an offer. But I completely bombed the salary negotiation! My interviewer said they wanted to offer me the position and asked what salary range I was looking at. I gave him a range that I had researched earlier and felt comfortable with. But then after a bit of discussion he asked me to get more specific and name a number. And this is where I freaked out! I got nervous and named a number at the bottom of my range. My interviewer actually seemed a bit shocked and checked if I was sure I’d be happy with that salary and I assured him it would be fine. He gave me the weekend to think the offer over.
What do I do!? I’m so angry with myself because I know they really thought I was a much more talented candidate than the others and even discussed about me taking on other responsibilities beyond the original job description. Is it too late to negotiate? I’d be ok with taking the job at the salary they offered but really I want something more in the middle/higher end of the range I gave.. Should I just take the job at the salary we agreed upon and hope to ask for a raise once I start? Will I seem flaky if I try to renegotiate the offer?
Your time to negotiate is now, before you accept the offer, not after. Candidates have the most leverage negotiating after an offer is made but before acceptance. You know they want you, so much so that they entrust you with extra duties beyond the job description!
Negotiating is part of the hiring process and nothing is set in stone until you have signed off on a written offer, which it sounds like you haven’t. It’s also a positive that you didn’t verbally agree to the offer in the interview either.
If you want to negotiate for a higher pay, say something like “I’m really excited by the prospect of joining your team but there’s just a few things I’d like to discuss regarding the offer. During the interview we discussed a starting salary of X. But after thinking it over and considering the added responsibilities I’d be taking on in A, B and C, I’m hoping for a salary that was more towards the middle/higher end of the salary range that I mentioned previously (you can name the actual range in numbers). Is there any room for movement in the offer?” Then be silent. Don’t freak out and try to fill the void with nervous backtracking. Hold your ground and see what happens.
At this point they may say there’s no room for movement, in which case you have to decide whether to take the offer or not. Or they will see what they can do. The important thing to know is what is your walk away point. If they offer you $2,000 less than your ideal, are you willing to let this opportunity go by?
But it’s definitely worth trying to negotiate. No reasonable employer will think you’re ‘flaky’ for trying to negotiate an offer that was presented in an interview. They gave you time to think it over for a reason, so seize the opportunity.
Good luck and congratulations on a possible new job!
If you have a question you think we can help with, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We answer one Ask A Recruiter question every Monday on our blog.