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Is it too late to counteroffer a salary you’ve already accepted verbally?

Is it too late to counteroffer a salary you’ve already accepted verbally?

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My friend Andy went to a second interview recently, not expecting the company to extend him an offer that day. He hadn’t done extensive research on the salary and didn’t know the full position requirements, and was surprised when he was offered the position and a salary. As he’s a bit green career-wise and this was Andy’s first job offer after graduation, he accepted on the spot, not knowing what else to do. He received the formal version of the offer in the mail this week and now needs to sign it and send it back if he’s to commit. After doing some additional research he’s found that the offer leaves him in the bottom 15th percentile in terms of salary. Another concern is that since this offer, he’s had a phone interview with another company and they said they won’t be able to even let him know about a second interview possibility until two more weeks.

Naturally, he’s stressed out and unsure how to proceed. He called me for advice and I told him that he’s well within his rights to counter the offer. Most companies use a minimum to maximum matrix when offering salary. This company most likely offered the minimum figuring he might not know any better. I told Andy to get in touch with the HR contact and let them know that he’s definitely interested in signing but would like to review the salary first. He needs to point out some of the facts that he’s uncovered in research – entry level for this position offers X, cost of living in his city is X, he’s bringing this specific set of skills and background, and therefore is comfortable with Z salary. People do this all the time – it’s called knowing your worth and demonstrating it. The company will most likely counter his offer with something in between, so I advised him to raise his offer 5% or so from what he would take, just to give that buffer. There is nothing wrong with countering now, despite what he agreed to in the second interview. If companies could get away with it, the would pay everyone minimum wage. That’s just the nature of capitalism and how business operates. They won’t rescind the offer unless the request is for some ridiculous amount of money. They are obviously ready to bring him on ASAP,  which means they need someone ASAP. That’s something Andy can use to his advantage.

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