What can you do if you receive a lowball job offer you don’t want to accept?
The Internal Equity Negotiation
Consider using employers’ favorite argument to control the high end of salaries for new hires — internal equity.
The argument goes like this, “We know you might be able to command a higher salary in the market. We would like to pay you more, but doing so would upset our internal equity. We would be paying you more than we pay your peers.”
In my experience, employers mean it when they say this to candidates. They do want to hire the person. They do want to offer a salary high enough to get to yes.
However, they don’t want to upset the person’s peers, and perhaps their entire salary structure, by offering the person more than they’re already paying their peers.
In fact, a 2016 recruiter survey conducted by RiseSmart found that 44% of participants are reluctant to consider candidates who don’t fit their budget parameters. That also means over half will.
Thus, if you receive a lowball job offer you won’t accept because of the money, consider this approach:
1. Tell the negotiator that you are very excited about (a) the company, (b) the job, and (c) the people.
2. Reiterate the benefits the company would experience by hiring you.
3. Express your disappointment about the offer.
4. Ask the negotiator about the salary range for the job. You want to assess your upside.
5. Ask the negotiator if their offer is in line with what the company pays the people who would be your peers.
6. If the negotiator won’t answer your question say, “I would like to do this job. I will say yes to an offer of [this amount].”
7. If the negotiator answers your question, and the offer is equitable, consider it.
8. If it’s not equitable, ask, “Do you really want to pay me less than you’re paying my peers?”
9. Close with, “Internal equity is important to me. I want this job. I will say yes to an offer that is line with what you pay my peers.”
Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. If the money is the only thing holding you back from saying yes, make the counteroffer.
How to Play Hardball
Updated June 2017
© 2010 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.