How To Respond to a Lowball Salary Offer (Sample Emails)

How To Respond to a Lowball Salary Offer (Sample Emails)

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After going through a string of demanding, physically and mentally draining interviews, you finally receive a job offer. However, just when you thought it was time to celebrate, you notice that you’ve just been lowballed. How do you respond?

Here’s how to respond to a lowball salary offer:

  1. Be polite but insist on your salary expectations.
  2. Ask for time to consider the offer.
  3. Negotiate for compensating benefits.
  4. Ask for a higher offer.
  5. Respectfully decline the offer.

A lowball salary offer doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you and your newest opportunity. Knowing how to respond may turn things around, allowing you to end up getting exactly what you asked for. In the rest of this article, I’ll take you through how to respond to a lowball offer, along with some sample emails that you can use as a reference.

1. Be Polite But Insist on Your Salary Expectations

If it’s your first time getting a lowball salary offer, your first instinct may be to give in. However, no matter how badly you want the job and how tempting it may seem to simply accept the offer, remember that employers are prepared for candidates to negotiate the opening proposition.

In fact, many employers simply give a low offer knowing that there’s a possibility you’ll accept. If you do, good for them (not so good for you). If you don’t, they already know how high they can bump up the sum. 

Many employees accept lowball offers, thinking that their salary will somehow increase in the future. While that may be true, it may take too long before you get to the salary upgrade that you believe you deserve. This often creates frustration and demotivation, causing a decrease in work performance quality. 

It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re not compensated well. Even though you might think it won’t affect you, the realities of bills, expenses, and lifestyle costs will eventually catch up to you.

Therefore, rather than saying yes right away, respond politely, but insist on your asking salary. Don’t be afraid of being thought of as rude or entitled. Negotiating an offer is part of the hiring process that employers are prepared for and, in fact, expect.

It’s the way you insist on your desired salary that will make the difference. Start off by expressing your gratitude. The fact that they’re giving you an offer means that they believe you’re a good catch. Once you’ve said your thanks, proceed by explaining why your desired salary is reasonable based on market standards, your experience, and your qualifications.

To give you an idea of how to properly insist on the salary that you think is right for you, take a look at this sample email. 

Sample Email – Insisting on Your Desired Salary

Dear (Hiring Manager),

Thank you for the offer. I am deeply honored that you think I’m a good fit for the job. 

I would be delighted to join the company immediately, but for one concern. 

Unfortunately, the offer of (salary) is below the range that I can reasonably accept. While I understand that you may have budget limitations, I know that my desired salary range falls within market standards.

I am also certain that I am able to meet and exceed your expectations for this role because (state your experience and qualifications).

If you are willing to set a salary within my desired range, please let me know. I would love to discuss this further.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

What To Expect From the Employer

Once you’ve sent out your email, all you can do is wait for a response. There are two possible outcomes that you can expect from the employer:

They Will Tell You That They Can’t Offer You What You Ask

There’s always the possibility that no matter how well you explain your market value, some employers just can’t give you what you ask.

One of the main reasons for this is the employer does not have the budget to accommodate your request. 

When you get this response, don’t take it personally. Keep your cool and respond to the hiring manager by saying that you respect their decision. 

While this may mean you’re back on square one of your job hunt journey, it also means that you have the opportunity to find a job that can offer you the salary you deserve.

They Will Meet Your Desired Salary

This is the best possible scenario and the one that you’re most likely hoping for. 

If the hiring manager thinks you’re too good to pass up on, chances are they will increase their offer to meet your desired salary range. Moreover, they most likely have a good idea of market standards, so insisting on a range that matches that will tell them that you understand the industry and know what you’re worth.

When you get this message, don’t waste any more time. Respond right away and say you can start ASAP!

2. Ask for Time To Consider the Offer

If you’re unsure how to proceed, don’t be afraid to ask for time to think your options through. Hiring managers typically give a deadline for when you decide on their offer. This can be anywhere from one day to three days, depending on how quickly they need to fill the post.

Make use of this time to gather your thoughts and maybe even calm yourself down if you’re feeling disappointed about the offer. Responding right away may not work out for the best, especially if you’re feeling emotional or even angry at such a lowball offer.

Remember, as I mentioned earlier, don’t take the offer personally. It’s not meant to be an attack on your personal worth or professional value. There are simply employers that like to start off by offering as low as they can go and see how negotiations will proceed from there. 

When asking for time, take note of the timeline you’re given and work with it, not beyond it. They are probably talking to other candidates as well, so if you stretch the wait time too far, they may not be as willing to hear what you have to say anymore.

Following their timeline also shows that you are enthusiastic about the prospect of joining their company (despite the lowball) and that you respect their time. This can prove to be helpful in working things out in your favor. As the employer appreciates your interest in their company, they may be more willing to negotiate positively with you.

Sample Email

Dear (Hiring Manager),

Thank you for the offer. I am deeply honored that you think I’m a good fit for the job. 

Unfortunately, since the offer is below my desired salary range of (salary range), I would like to request (number) days to consider the offer carefully and weigh my options before finally making a decision.

I will inform you of my decision by (date).

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

What To Expect From the Employer – Asking for Time

Asking for time to consider an original offer actually accomplishes two things: 

  • You’re able to communicate that you’re having doubts about joining the company. Your hesitation to say yes right away communicates that you’re not particularly pleased with the offer you received. And since the hiring manager is aware that the low salary could be the reason, it becomes clear that that is where they need to make adjustments (if they want to). However, whether they increase the offer or not is entirely up to them.
  • You’re able to consider other offers. If you’re actively on the hunt for a job, chances are you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket. You can use this time to consider other job offers, make a comparison, and decide from there which one would work best for you.

When you’ve asked for time to consider the offer, there are two possible outcomes:

  • The employer won’t budge about the offer and simply wait for your decision. Since asking for time also sends the message that you’re not too happy about the offer, you’d hope that the employer would get back to you by increasing their original offer. However, that doesn’t always happen, especially if the hiring manager has a long queue of people who may be more willing to bite the bait. 
  • The employer will respond by offering you a higher salary. If your hoped-for outcome occurs, respond as soon as you can. Express your gratitude, but also make sure that your and your employer’s expectations are aligned. 

Sometimes, employers will increase their offer while making specific demands, such as widening the job scope or adding job functions. Make sure to set everything straight so you don’t get shortchanged in the end.

3. Negotiate for Compensating Benefits

If you’re aware that there are budgetary limitations governing the employer’s decision to offer you a salary below your expectation, insisting on your desired salary may not work. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t have to mean that negotiations are closed as far as the job is concerned.

One of the ways you can try to make up for the lack of monetary compensation is by negotiating for perks and benefits that may actually impact on your expenses or your wellbeing. Sometimes, hiring managers have no control over salary, but they do have control over non-monetary job hiring factors.

Therefore, if you think that the offer is too low, try to think of non-monetary perks you believe will make up for the low salary. When considering this, think of your work-life experience as a whole and then come up with options that are reasonable for both you and the company.

These perks can be anything from stock options to getting a company car to a flexible work schedule to more vacation days to being allowed to work from home. You can be as creative (but reasonable) as you want. And when you have made up your mind on what benefits you want, pitch your idea to the hiring manager as soon as you can.

The earlier they hear about your proposal, the more thoroughly they can discuss it, and the higher the chances that they will approve.

Here’s an example of how you can do that. 

Sample Email

Dear (Hiring Manager),

Thank you for the offer. I am deeply honored that you think I’m a good fit for the job. 

Unfortunately, the offer of (salary) is below my desired salary range.

However, I understand that you may be constrained by budget limitations. Because of this, I would like to request some benefits to compensate for the salary offer, namely (state your desired benefits). 

I am confident that this arrangement will help make for a mutually beneficial working relationship.

I look forward to hearing back from you!

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

What To Expect From the Employer – Negotiating for Other Benefits

When you ask for certain perks or benefits, there are three possible outcomes:

  • You get all of the benefits you asked for. Congratulations! You got all of the benefits that you requested. If those benefits make up for what you will lack in monetary compensation and will make your work life a meaningful one, then by all means go ahead and accept the offer already!
  • You get some of the benefits you asked for. Another outcome that you may expect is your employer could approve some of the benefits you asked for, but not all. In this case, you have to weigh whether the ones they decided to forego are perks you can do away with. Otherwise, you may want to start looking at your other job options.
  • The employer denies your request. If your employer isn’t able to make special arrangements for you and the salary is way below your expectations, don’t be afraid to walk away. You’ll most likely thank yourself later if you do.

4. Respectfully Decline the Offer

If you have tried insisting on your expected salary or negotiating for other benefits and yet nothing seems to be working out, it may be time to turn the offer down. 

You typically would not want to reject a lowball offer right away (unless there are much better job offers waiting for you) because they are rarely the end of the conversation. However, if the offer is too low when compared to market standards, it’s automatically a red flag. That speaks a lot about how a company values (or does not value) its people.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to walk away from job offers just because you think nothing else will come along. Don’t sell yourself short (but don’t set your expectations too high either). Do your research about the industry, the pay grades for the position you’re eyeing, and the value of your experience. Ask for what you believe you deserve.

Lastly, if nothing’s working out and it’s time to decline, do so with grace and respect. You’ll never know; they might change their minds a few months or years from now and offer you an outstanding offer.

Here’s how you can respectfully decline an offer.

Sample Email

Dear (Hiring Manager),

Thank you for the offer. I am deeply honored that you think I’m a good fit for the job. 

Unfortunately, the offer of (salary) does not meet my desired salary range and falls short of market standards.

While I understand that you may have budget limitations, I also do not think that the offer will fairly compensate for my qualifications and experience.

Nevertheless, I am thankful that you considered my application and wish you and your company success,

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

What To Expect From the Employer – Rejecting the Offer

Now that you’ve declined the job offer, you’re back at square one–but you should pat yourself on the back for being confident about what you know you deserve.

After telling the hiring manager that you are rejecting the offer, two things can happen:

  • They will accept your rejection and move forward. Some hiring managers will acknowledge a rejection of the job offer. Some won’t. Either way, you should also already be moving forward on your job hunt.
  • They will try to start a negotiation. If you have not had a previous discussion about increasing the offer or negotiating other perks and benefits, the hiring manager may get back to you and propose a higher offer. It may or may not be as high as you’re asking–at least not at first.

If this happens, it’s up to you if you’re willing to keep talking. If you are, be clear and firm about what you want. The employer will likely have a specific figure in mind. You should too. This will help you not get swayed by whatever they offer. 

Remember that if they start negotiating with you, it means they really like you. Use that to your advantage.

Conclusion

Getting a lowball salary offer can be frustrating, but more often than not, it’s only the beginning of a conversation that ends with you getting the position you know you deserve. You just have to know how to respond, be sure about what you want, and be willing to compromise if necessary.

However,  don’t be afraid to turn a lowball offer down if you think you’d be selling yourself short. If you’ve gotten a job offer, that’s the first sign that you’re on the right track. Who knows–turning a lowball offer now may open the door to a much better position in the future.

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