Ask LH: Can I Negotiate My Salary After A Job Offer Is Already Made?

Ask LH: Can I Negotiate My Salary After A Job Offer Is Already Made?
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Dear Lifehacker, I have applied for a position internally with the company I already work for. The application process requests you to supply an “asking salary”. My application was successful after several rounds of interviews but I was not given any information around salary, so I assumed my asking salary had been accepted. I have since discovered that the company has gone with a much lower salary than expected (25 per cent difference).

What can I do here? If I have been accepted for a position where I have supplied an asking salary and this salary amount was not challenged before agreeing to hire me, are they obligated to take me on at the asking salary? Thanks, Worried Worker

Dear WW,

This all depends on whether you already signed the agreement or not. Your salary should have been clearly outlined in your new employment contract. If you signed this without question, you only have yourself to blame.

The whole point of these contracts is that they give both sides an opportunity to negotiate before a final agreement is made. In other words, you need to arrange a favourable outcome before you sign the contract. As it stands, your employer never explicitly promised you a specific pay rise so they haven’t broken any agreements. The onus is on you to push for a better deal.

With that said, your asking salary definitely should have been addressed during negotiations, especially if your employer had no intention of meeting it. This is just poor form and detrimental to building a lasting professional relationship.

The take home lesson here is that you should never assume something is guaranteed without double-checking — especially when money is on the line.

If you haven’t signed anything yet, you are absolutely within your rights to negotiate a better salary. This is standard practice and no decent business will begrudge you for making the attempt. You can find some useful salary negotiation tips here, here and here. Good luck!


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  • The recruitment process isn’t entirely a negotiation process. It’s about identifying suitability before wasting anyones time with negotiating.

    I’m no lawyer but they won’t hire you at any salary level other than what they’re happy with. I doubt there would be any legal issue unless you have had your position jeopardized, which you haven’t.

    This situation is not your fault. You were asked your salary requirements, and you gave them. It’s not up to you to monitor every last detail moving forward. You’re right to have concluded that they had “accepted” your salary requirements – or at least found them acceptable. If they found them unacceptable then they should not have wasted your time or theirs. It’s something they should have identified in the first instance – and clearly they failed to do that – which tells you a little something about the company that you work for.

    I think you need to go to whomever is appropriate within your organisation – be that your current manager or (more likely) your potential new manager and politely let them know that there appears to have been an error (on their side) and that the salary level offered is unacceptable. Thanks but no thanks, unless that is they’re able to figure out what day of the week it is and offer you something that is acceptable. Perhaps they’ll be able to sign off on your originally stated salary, or close to it, straight away and problem solved. Perhaps they’ll have to let you know that that’s not an option, in which case it would be sensible simply to decline the offer and give them the opportunity to waste someone elses time.

  • Interesting question. I read somewhere that many times attempting to negotiate the offered salary for a position was perhaps one of the least utilized tools in a candidate’s arsenal. The advice given was pretty sound – hopefully you didn’t already sign an agreement.

  • You haven’t answered the guy’s question! What can he do in this situation?

    You appear to have jumped to the conclusion that he’s signed a contract already, and just discussed that scenario.

    Very poor, LH.

  • From what I can understand your company had a price in mind for what they were willing to pay for your position. Getting the extra 25% would be challenging just from a conversation. Plus you have just started the new role therefore you don’t have a great deal of leverage. This will come once they understand how much value you add.

    If the salary you earn currently is sufficient, and you enjoy working at the company, I would suggest to put a salary plan in place with your Manager. Come up with at least 3 projects to work on that will either increase revenue or save time. Because I don’t know the nature of your job its hard to determine your goals. However an example may be, Sales Manager: exceeds this quarter targets by 20%. The idea is once you achieve your goals you will be compensated with a higher salary.

    It all depends on how much you want it. Go for it!

    – Jake

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