Job Letters
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Resume FAQ

Counter-Offer Letter

So you have just received an offer for a great job, but after further consideration, the compensation or other terms are less than your requirements or expectations. Or perhaps your Dream Job has become available at another company. There are different reasons to write a Counter Offer Letter or letter of negotiation. In some cases, the candidate may not be satisfied with the package or salary offered; in other cases, they may have received an offer from another company, and may want to use that information to leverage a better offer from company #1.

What is the best way to handle this delicate situation? In many cases, these are life-changing decisions, and it is difficult to navigate through these choices while maintaining a positive relationship with the individuals involved. You do not want to lose the existing opportunity, but you also want to advocate for your best interests.

If you realize that the job you are about to accept is not ideal, you should find a professional way to communicate with the hiring manager your concerns.  This process will likely start with a verbal conversation and should be followed with a professional letter outlining the specifics. 

If you have received an offer that appears to be below industry standards, it would be appropriate to discuss these issues with the hiring manager to understand their thinking. If you are uniquely qualified for a position, and have credentials, background and education that make you a superior candidate, there may be a reason to request a premium to the package offered. 

A letter of negotiation might include:

Dear (Name of hiring manager)

I was very pleased to receive the offer for the (Position) at (Company), and am very excited about the opportunity to join your team and add immediate value. I appreciate your consideration of my candidacy for this very important position.

However, there are some details I would like to discuss concerning the package offered, and hopefully we will be able to mutually agree on a few adjustments. Recognizing that a base salary for an equal position with my experience is typically at a higher level, I am wondering if the base salary might be adjusted, or if there are other considerations in the package that can compensate for the lower salary.

I believe my prior experience and knowledge of the industry will more than justify any increase you might consider.

Again, I am highly interested in the position at (XYZ company) and look forward to joining your very talented team of professionals. Please let me know when we can discuss these details and find a way to work together going forward.

With great appreciation,

There are also times when you have already agreed to one job, when a preferred/better job presents itself. If you can manage it, go through the interview process at the second company while maintaining your acceptance with the first company. If you receive the second offer, you should then carefully consider the pros and cons of each opportunity. If you decide that the second offer has better terms, it is appropriate to immediately share that information with the original company. While there are many ways to write an email or letter outlining your situation, it is often preferable to speak with the hiring manager directly, laying out your requests first - and then following up in writing. 

If you have received multiple offers from different companies that offer better terms, it would be appropriate to speak with the hiring manager, express your interest in their position (as your first choice) and reveal what the other offers include. If their compensation scale precludes them from meeting your salary issues, sometimes negotiating other aspects of a compensation package make sense, such as: vacation; healthcare; equity; flexible working arrangements; bonuses and early reviews with opportunities for promotion. Any negotiation, whether accepted or not, should be documented in writing. Send a brief email outlining your understanding of the conversation, so that there is no misunderstanding at a later date.

Sometimes you may have accepted an offer from one employer, and then the dream job makes you an offer. If you decide to stay with the first company, you should write an email to the second company stating that you had already signed an offer with a different employer, but if circumstances change, you would love to work for them in the future. This shows your integrity and does not burn bridges. For example:

I appreciate receiving your offer for the position of (X) at (Company). Unfortunately, I have already accepted an offer from another company which, at this time, more closely aligns with my personal and professional situation.

Thank you again for your consideration.

If you have decided to accept an offer from the second company, you should first sign and make sure everything is in order. This then becomes a delicate situation. You must go back to the first company, apologize and indicate that this was not anticipated or expected.  It is important to communicate your decision quickly and professionally. A phone call followed by a written letter is the best approach.  (In the U.S. you have the right to leave an employer agreement at any time. Not the case everywhere.). For example:

Following up on our conversation, and after careful consideration, this is to inform you of my decision to accept another offer for a position that more closely matches my career objectives. This was a very difficult decision, and I truly apologize for the inconvenience I may have caused.

I appreciate the opportunity you presented, and I wish you continued success.

With kind regards,

Writing a Counter Offer Letter in an attempt to negotiate a salary is complicated. You are asking for an improvement on what the company has offered, but you are still interested in the job.

Always be professional and let the company know that you appreciate the opportunity and continue in your interest.

I was pleased to receive your offer for the (position) at (Company). I continue in my interest in the opportunity and believe that I would add value to your team.

Then, write about specific areas of the offer that you would like changed or improved. 

As follows:

In reviewing the package presented, I would like an opportunity to discuss the (issue) which I feel would better match with my current level.

With my 5 years-experience, and market trends, a base salary of ($$$) would better suit my career objectives.

I am very excited about joining (company) as an (Position) and feel confident that we will agree to terms that are mutually beneficial. I look forward to discussing these issues at your earliest convenience.

Contact info

Again, this conversation should begin verbally with the hiring manager. Take emotion out of the conversation. Provide examples of your prior successes and results. Propose a counter offer that is reasonable, and let them respond. 

There may be times in your career when you have difficult choices to make, so take your time, remain professional, and do not make a decision that you will ultimately regret.