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How To Prepare A Strong Counter Proposal

Congratulations! You have received a job offer and the employer wants you to decide right away if you are going to accept. Now what should you do?

Don't get in a rush

The most important thing to remember is that you do not have to accept the employer's offer immediately. In fact, it is better if you do not give an answer right away, instead asking for some time to review the offer in more detail. Most employers will accommodate this request, as long as you don't ask for a review period that is too lengthy. Depending on the job position you have been offered, it is generally acceptable to ask for two or three days after you receive a written offer to make your decision.

Get it in writing

In order to properly and thoroughly review a job offer, you need to get it in writing. Most employers provide a written offer as a matter of practice, but be sure to ask for one just in case. Once you have the offer in hand read it carefully to thoroughly understand all of the details. Pay attention to salary as a main component, but also note other aspects such as medical/dental benefits, bonus or incentive pay, vacation time, relocation expenses, 401K and retirement program, etc.

Do your homework

With the written offer in place you can do some research on whichever aspects of the offer you would like to counter. The most common item countered is salary, so take the time to learn more about the employer, the location, and the industry. Research comparable positions and their salary ranges to determine if the salary in the offer is reasonable and appropriate. Also, pay attention to your own skills and attributes, and how you will benefit the employer. If you have a great deal of experience and expertise you will likely be in a better position to ask for a higher salary than if you are new to the profession or career field.

Present your counter proposal

When you present your counter proposal, you should do so simultaneously in writing and verbally. The best case is to have a face-to-face discussion with the employer where you can present your case and have a productive back and forth discussion. If distance or other obstacles prevent this, the next best option is to hold the discussion via telephone, making sure both you and the employer have a written copy of the counter proposal in hand during the discussion.

As you make your case for the counter proposal, focus on the positive. Note the things you admire and respect about the employer, and talk about the immediate benefits you will bring to the position. Use information gathered during your research to support your proposed changes.

The outcome

When you choose to present a counter proposal, there are three things that can happen:

  • Your counter proposal is accepted
  • The employer will offer a counter proposal back
  • The employer will reject your counter proposal, making it clear that their original offer is the maximum they will propose

If your counter proposal is accepted, or if the employer counters back, you will need to make a final decision to accept or reject the position. If, however, your counter proposal is rejected completely then you have an even more difficult decision to make.

With your counter proposal effectively off the table, you are faced with either accepting or rejecting the original offer. This can be very difficult, as rejecting the original offer means walking away from a job and accepting the original offer means taking something less than what you feel you are truly worth. The choice you make really depends on your personal circumstances, so consider your options carefully before rendering a final decision.



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