What can you do if you receive a lowball job offer you don’t want to accept?
The Internal Equity Salary Negotiation
First, think like an employer. When companies want to control base salaries, they use the “internal equity” story.
It goes like this, “We know you might be able to command a higher starting salary in the market. And we would like to pay you more, but doing so would upset our internal equity. We would be paying you more than we pay your peers.”
In my experience, hiring managers mean it when they say this to candidates. They do want to hire the person. They do want to offer a salary high enough to get to yes.
However, they don’t have much wiggle room because they don’t want to upset the person’s peers, and perhaps their entire salary structure, by offering the new hire more than they’re already paying their peers.
In fact, a 2016 recruiter survey conducted by RiseSmart found that 44% of participants are reluctant to consider candidates who don’t fit their budget parameters.
However, that also means that over half will!
Nine Steps to Increase a Lowball Salary Offer
Thus, if you receive a lowball job offer that doesn’t include an acceptable salary, consider this approach:
1. Tell the negotiator you are very excited about the company, the job, and the people.
2. Reiterate the benefits the company would experience by hiring you.
3. Express your disappointment about the offer.
4. Ask the negotiator about the salary range for the job (because you want to assess your upside).
5. Ask the negotiator how the offer compares to the median and average salary the company pays your peers.
6. If the negotiator won’t answer your question say, “I would like to do this job. I will say yes to an offer of [this amount].”
7. If the negotiator answers your question, and the offer is equitable, then consider it.
8. If it’s not equitable, ask, “Do you really want to pay me less than you’re paying my peers?”
9. Close with, “Internal equity is important to me. I want this job. I will say yes to an offer that is line with what you pay my peers.”
If you want to, you can also talk about things like signing bonuses and job titles.
Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. If the money in a lowball job offer is the only thing holding you back from saying yes, then make a counteroffer.
How to Play Negotiating Hardball
Updated July 2019
© 2010 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.