How To Respond To A Job Offer Lower Than Expected And Win?

July 31, 2021 | Sarabjeet Sachar |

Vijay (name changed for a matter of confidentiality), a professional with 12 years experience, was disappointed because he got a job offer which was below his expectations in terms of compensation. While he really liked the job profile and the organization, he felt that the offer under discussion was not what he deserved. He had a successful track record and was happy with his current company but what attracted him to the new role was the scope of a larger responsibility which he was excited about. Now, he did not want to lose out on the offer but at the same time wanted to negotiate for a better compensation package.


He consulted us on what should he do? And as we all know, negotiation requires tact and is an art. We offered him a non-traditional approach and few options to handle the offer but negotiation does remain a challenge for most professionals because the human tendency is to be reactive. And there is a thin line dividing negotiation and haggling. It is important to remember that negotiation can take place when a job offer is at the discussion stage. Once the job offer has been signed and sealed, the scope to bargain is as good as nil. So here is the approach I advised him to take:


1] Price Value Equation:

While the kind of job offer that is made by an employer takes into account the salary grades within the organization for the specific position, it is primarily based upon the kind of value/perceived value one gets to the table. Generally speaking, if the price-value equation is imbalanced, the job offer would not meet your expectations. The reason for the imbalance could be many. But the most crucial one is that during the interview process you have not successfully presented your merit in total for the job. There still remains a gap in the mind of the employer which requires to be filled. An employer should be fully convinced that you are the right candidate and stand head above shoulders over other candidates for you to get a deserving job offer.


Now, since the interview process is over, you need to handle this offer acceptance stage with kid gloves. It should not be considered as haggling or else it can backfire and there lurks the danger of you losing the job offer. I am going to suggest a few steps that are non-traditional but they will be worth your while. Importantly, your confidence level in performing on the job needs to be sky-high for you to negotiate (but without sounding or coming across as arrogant).


You can do the following on hearing from the employer:


A] Do not react:

Just respond that you will evaluate and revert soon (though not advisable to ask for much time).


B] Re-evaluate your matching skills:

Re-run the interactions you had through all the rounds of interviews, the homework you had done on the job and the company. What are the inputs you gathered which are most crucial for the job to be performed successfully (business pain point)? You now have the advantage of knowing what the prospective employer is looking for.


C] Fill in the blanks:

Pick up your unique experience or expertise which will help you in performing successfully on the job. Perhaps you did not get the opportunity to fully demonstrate that aspect during the interview/s. For example, there could still be an underlying concern whether you will be able to handle senior management team members within your team and align successfully with them across various departments. This maybe is one very crucial aspect of the job.


You can demonstrate once again with specific examples that you have done this over the past few years successfully. Suggest to them that they may do a reference check on this part specifically if they wish (reflects confidence). Prepare a presentation on a critical aspect of the deliverable on how you will attain positive results within the initial 3 to 6 months (stick your neck out). For example, if it is a sales role, what kind of customers you can get on board and how much revenue would that translate into.


D] Meet face to face:

Seek an appointment with the concerned HR department or the line manager (whichever the case may be). If a Recruitment Agency is involved, it would be a better approach to first route your points through the Agency and seek an appointment with their client.


E] Make the presentation:

First, appreciate the job offer, thank them and tell them that you are interested because of the prospects it offers. Then show enthusiasm and excitement about the job and present all the points (demonstrating your unique value) once again. Show them that you are ready to commit the delivery of results/objectives. Make a very brief presentation. The gap can be covered up by demonstrating your value.


2] Market Standard Salary:

Then present to them the kind of compensation professionals in your field with your kind of experience and background are already getting. The industry-wise benchmark salaries across domains are available online (it will be indicative).


3] Range is Better:

Assuming you have been offered say 10 to 15% hike by the employer. And you expected 25%. Then depending upon the specific situation, you can ask for a hike in terms of a range (22 to 28 %) instead of a single-digit figure. Asking for a range always allows flexibility and leaves room for negotiation for the employer. And assuming you succeed in getting a 22%, it is fair because negotiation is all about a win-win feeling for both parties involved.


4] Performance Linked Variable: 

All employers need to be sure of the tangible delivery of goods for them to offer you an increase. As an option, discuss with the employer to add a performance-linked component to the package. That can give comfort to the employer. Can the performance linked component be offered every three months to you on quarterly set objectives? Explore that option too.


Below are listed optional approaches (to be used discreetly):


5] An Early Performance Review:

Explore the option of reviewing your salary within a period of say 6 months instead of one year.


6] Loan:

Can they offer you some amount as a company loan facility for say repaying your housing loan?


7] Joining Bonus:

Can a one-time joining bonus be considered?


8] Higher Conveyance: 

In case you are relocating to another city, the costs of commuting can increase. If that is the case, you may use it as a negotiation point.


Assuming all the above tools do not yield the result that you expect and the job offer stands as it is. Then seriously evaluate the job prospects and the solid platform it offers for you to perform exceedingly well (do not miss the woods for the trees). If it does, then decide to accept the job offer and pleasantly surprise the company with outstanding performance and be a star employee so that you cover up for the monetary loss within or in less than a year’s time.


Happy job hunting!!

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