Navigating a Low-Ball Job Offer: Strategies for Success

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Receiving a low-ball job offer can be a disheartening and emotional experience. After weeks of efforts on your part including multiple interviews, psychometric checks and presentations, it’s finally decision day…. And you got it!!!! You’re so excited and you can’t wait to resign and start the next phase of your career. And then you get the offer, and it’s not what you were hoping for.

You feel confused, angry, frustrated…..but you’re trying to remain professional.  What do you do?

Understanding The Amygdala (the emotional control centre of your brain)

Before diving into the specifics of addressing a low-ball job offer, it’s essential to understand the emotional component of this process. The amygdala, a small but mighty part of your brain, plays a significant role in emotional responses, particularly in high-pressure situations like negotiating job offers. When you receive a disappointing offer, your amygdala can trigger a fight-or-flight response, including a big rush of adrenaline making you feel defensive, frustrated, or anxious. And you are at your least articulate and logical when you are flushed with adrenaline.

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to react hastily to a low-ball offer. However, taking time to respond is a critical step in the process. Politely thank the employer for the offer and express your appreciation for their interest in you. Then, explain that you need some time to review the offer thoroughly. This allows you to gather your thoughts, let the rush of adrenaline pass and develop a well-thought-out response.

Understanding the Strength of Your Bargaining Position

Kenny Rogers’ classic song “The Gambler” offers sage advice about knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. When facing a low-ball offer, it’s crucial to assess the strength of your bargaining position. Consider factors like your current job situation, the demand for your skills in the job market, and the company’s eagerness to hire you. If you possess skills that are in short supply, the company may be struggling to find people like you, so your bargaining position may be quite strong. Conversely, if they have a strong supply of people with a similar skillset, then your bargaining power is likely to be limited.

Seeking an Explanation for the Offer

It’s essential to understand the rationale behind the offer. We suggest you reach out to the hiring manager or HR representative to inquire about the factors that influenced the offer. In some cases, the employer is simply limited by a budget – which may be moveable or not. Frequently, they don’t wish to pay more than their incumbent employees and create a parity issue. Other times you will sense they are just trying to grab a bargain. Or perhaps, you had applied for the role with a salary expectation above the advertised salary and hoped the employer would see the value you could deliver.  Any insight you can receive will help you tailor your response effectively.

Stating Why You Believe You’re Worth More

You will need to make a compelling case as to why you believe you’re worth more than the initial offer. The key is reliable research to determine the true market rate for someone like you. Normally the team at Balance use a combination of our Salary Snapshot, discussions with a range of similar candidates and looks at ads on Seek. Obviously, an experienced recruiter will have exceptional market knowledge and will be able to help a lot.

Further, you should aim to provide concrete examples of how your contribution will positively impact the business’ bottom line, culture and/or productivity. By presenting a strong case, you can potentially sway their decision.

How to Phrase a Rejection While Leaving the Door Open

When crafting your response, it’s essential to maintain professionalism and leave the door open for potential negotiations or future opportunities. Start by expressing gratitude for the offer. Then, politely outline your concerns, such as the salary being below your expectations based on your qualifications and market research. Emphasize your enthusiasm for the role and the organization, but clarify that the compensation does not align with your skills and experience.

Here’s a sample response:

“Thank you for extending the job offer for [position] at [company]. I appreciate your confidence in me and the opportunity to join your team. After careful consideration and reviewing industry standards, I have concerns about the compensation package. Given my qualifications and the current market, I was hoping for a salary in the range of [your desired salary]. I remain enthusiastic about the role and the company, and I’m open to discussing this further. Is there room for negotiation on the salary?”

Before You Get Carried Away, Take a Bigger Picture View

Ultimately, your decision should also consider the bigger picture. While salary is essential, it’s not the only factor to evaluate when weighing a job offer. Consider how the role will affect your career trajectory. Are other opportunities like this likely to come along again? And ask yourself the tough questions, how much of this is your ego wanting to earn the big bucks and how much is a real need for the money. $5000 per year translates to $12.50 a day after tax (That’s about the cost of 2 coffees). Make sure you take a step back before you make a final decision.