How to Write a Counter Offer Letter to Score a Better Salary
If you receive a job offer and want to negotiate a higher salary or better benefits, try a counter offer letter.
October 20, 2021
You’re in the middle of a job search and get a new job offer from a prospective employer. The job is exactly what you’re looking for — almost. The work you’d be doing is right up your alley, and the benefits package looks good, but you were hoping for a higher salary so you can work toward some of your financial goals.
If you find yourself in this position, you could respond to the original offer with a counter-proposal that lists the salary range you would like to be paid. Of course, you could do this in person or over the phone, but a counteroffer letter or email may be a wiser path to take. This way, you’ll have time to think through your response and make sure that you come off as reasonable, professional and competent.
Let’s break down counter offer letters, what they contain and how they can most effectively be used for salary negotiation.
What is a counteroffer letter?
A counteroffer letter is a written counter-proposal sent to your prospective employer’s HR department, recruiter or hiring manager. This proposal letter is sent via snail mail, but most counter offer letters today are emailed.
In a nutshell, the counteroffer letter expresses that you’re still interested in pursuing the job offer, but you’d like to change one or more of the terms.
There’s no guarantee an employer will accept your counteroffer, but it’s worth trying. At the onset of a job negotiation, some employers may try to lowball your salary or benefits to see whether you’re willing to settle for them. So, don’t be afraid to write a counter offer letter asking for a salary increase after the company’s made its initial offer to you. 70% of hiring managers say they expect candidates to negotiate on salary.
Do your homework before you counter
As a job seeker, it pays to do some research before writing a counter offer letter. You can start by finding out how much the average employee in your field is paid for the work in question. Many websites publish average salaries for a given job, such as Salary.com or Glassdoor.
Once you’re armed with this information, then you’d probably be wise to send in a counter proposal if the company’s first offer is substantially below the average. You might also try to determine whether any of the company’s other employees used a counter offer letter during the negotiating process. They could tell you how the company reacted to their offer and whether it was accepted or not.
Negotiate more than just salary
Remember, there is much more to your total compensation package than just salary.
Take other benefits into account such as:
Paid days off
Matching retirement plan contributions
Employee fitness center
While most people think of a counter offer in terms of negotiating salary, in 2019, 59% of hiring managers were more open to negotiating benefits and non-monetary perks than in 2018. So consider leveraging more than just salary during your negotiation.
Pros and cons of counter offer letters
Counteroffer letters also offer three distinct advantages to job applicants:
If you’re a weak verbal negotiator, you can be more assertive in a written counteroffer letter.
A counteroffer letter gives you the chance to write out a convincing argument showing why you should get the terms you’re requesting.
It automatically documents your negotiation process in writing, which could come in handy if any misunderstanding between you and your employer should arise in the future.
While there are pros to writing a counter offer letter, it’s important to know the cons as well:
There’s no guarantee the employer will be willing to negotiate with you. They may simply respond by saying that their offer is final.
The employer may decide to reject your application altogether if the company doesn’t like what you say in your counter offer letter. For this reason, you should word your letter tactfully and professionally. Don’t use emotional terms or phrases; just keep everything purely objective.
What to include in a counter offer letter
If you’re unsure how to word your counter offer letter, follow a basic template that organizes the formal letter format into separate sections. Each section has a scope and purpose, and a well-written letter will concisely summarize exactly what you want from the employer:
Header: Use the standard heading format for a business letter, like a cover letter. Include both your and the company’s contact information, such as company name, address, phone number, email address and other pertinent information.
Introduction: Reiterate your interest in the position, and thank the employer for their job offer letter. But also remind the employer why you deserve the terms outlined in your letter, such as being more highly skilled than the average applicant for the job.
Body of the letter: As with any letter, this is where the meat of the negotiation is laid out. Dedicate each point of your counteroffer with a separate paragraph. In each paragraph, spell out the employer’s initial offer and your counteroffer. Also, be sure to include why you’re making a counteroffer. For example, if your prospective employer doesn’t offer health insurance, you may ask for a higher salary to cover this cost.
Conclusion: Restate that you’re still interested in working for the employer, and let them know you'd be happy to schedule a meeting if they'd like to discuss it in person.
Subject line: If you are sending your counteroffer in an email, be sure to put “[Your Name] — job offer” in the subject line.
Additional tips for writing a counteroffer
An employer will take a counteroffer letter more seriously if you can back your assertions with clear evidence of why they’re warranted.
If you can show that the average national salary for the job in question is higher than what they’re offering, then they may be more willing to meet your terms. And if you have a better offer from another company, you may be able to parlay this into a higher base salary offer (or other benefits) as well. This will also show the employer that you’re in demand and have other options to choose from.
Finally, be sure to edit and proofread your letter so that it doesn’t have any grammatical or spelling errors. You may want to have a trusted friend, mentor or family member review it for you so that they can give you feedback.
Counteroffer letter example
Here’s a sample counter offer letter template:
October 4, 2021
123 Anywhere St.
Overland Park, KS 66212
321 Somewhere St.
Lenexa, KS 66209
Dear Mr. Yost:
I very much appreciate that you have offered me the position of Senior Technical Consultant at Pavilion, Inc. I am interested in this opportunity and feel certain that I would be a valuable addition to your team.
I would like to find out whether it would be possible to increase my base salary by 10%. This would bring my salary in line with the national average and beat the offer that one of your competitors has made to me. Please let me know whether this is negotiable so that I can make a final decision on whether to accept your offer.
I thank you for your consideration.
Start negotiating for a better salary and benefits
A counteroffer letter can help you seek a better compensation package from a prospective employer. You can ask for a higher salary or change to the benefits package. Be sure to include the reasons why you’re making a counteroffer and why you deserve what you’re asking for.
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