We live in a world of demand and supply. Once the employer decided to hire you in an interview, you will negotiate the price for your services – the salary offer. Sneaky employers have a tendency to let you make the first offer. This situation is obviously the most difficult one. You should choose a number that is satisfying enough for you, but acceptable for the employer at the same time. It’s really a situation without a good solution.

If you happen to be the one who is making the first offer, I recommend you to simply say exactly how much you would like to earn on this position. It makes no sense to try to make any calculations at this place. Worst thing you can do would be to say less than you would like to earn. Please keep in mind that the employer have no reason to offer you more than you want. So if you say $35,000 (but wish to earn $40,000), he will prepare a contract for 35K…

Employer makes the first salary offer

Different situation occurs when the employer gives you a first offer. This situation is obviously much better for you. Several things can happen:

  • Employer offers you more than you expected. That’s great! Accept it and everyone will be happy.
  • The salary offer from the employer is exactly as you expected. Good situation again. You will get what you expect.
  • The offer is lower than you expected. What to do in this case? We will discuss it in this article.


Making a salary counter offer

First of all, you should never accept the first offer, if it is not satisfying enough for you.  It makes no sense to work for a salary that is not motivating enough for you. However, please do not understand me wrongly. If you are in a crisis situation, e.g. without a job for a long time, you should accept any offer. But still, it is good to give it a try and propose your own offer.

There is no general rule how to select an appropriate salary counter offer. Logically, you can not ask twice as much as the employer is offering you. They will never accept such an offer. I want you to remember something: If the employer really wants to hire you, he will be serious with you. He will not offer you 50% or 70% of what he is willing to pay you. He will offer you at least 80% of the maximum amount he is able to pay for your services every month.

That’s why, logically, you can realistically set your offer from 5% to 25% higher than their initial offer. Anything more will just barely be accepted.

Have additional data to justify your needs

Maybe you are interviewed for a job at Google or at Goldman Sachs. If it is a case, and your skills are somehow exceptional, you can ask for a salary that is much higher than the industry average. However, if you apply for a job in an average company, you will not succeed with such an offer. Oppositely, you need to check the salary statistics before an interview and stick to it in your negotiation efforts. Please, compare the following sentences:


Based on data of average salaries in this field I gathered in my research, I think that $40,000 is more appropriate salary for this job.


I believe that $40,000 would be more appropriate salary for this job.


Can you feel the difference? To make a research and have something (basically anything) to support your claims place you in a completely new position.


  • Be prepared. Research the average salaries and always have a good reason for your counter offer ready.
  • Never ask for more than 25% raise of their initial offer. If the employer is serious with you, his first offer will represent 80% of the maximum sum he is willing to pay you or more.
  • Always keep in mind where you are right now. If this is the only interview you have had in the last 6 months, it will too risky to make a 25% higher counter offer.

We wish you good luck in your interview!

PS: Have a look also at some salary negotiation tactics or general salary negotiation tips.