The Exact Email Template I Used To Land A Job — & Negotiate A Raise — During COVID
Negotiations can be stressful, whether via email, phone, or in-person.
But, it’s often easier to strike the right tone when negotiating over the phone or in-person, either because you’ve developed a connection with the recruiter or interviewer, or simply because it’s easier to convey your message, with minimal risk of confusion behind your tone. Through more verbal and visual approaches, you can more confidently (and comfortably) express how much you want the job and respect the team, while also requesting a higher salary or more benefits.
Email, however, can be much trickier. How do you stand your ground, ask for a raise and come across as respectful, at the same time? Also, should you even consider negotiating via email in the first place?
These days, unless you’re conversing with a recruiter or an extremely large firm, the vast majority of your interactions with a future employer are going to take place over email. Not to mention, when you’re fresh in the stages of looking for work, non-verbal communication, such as emails, is pretty much all you have as a means of “pitching” yourself as a prospective employee. Gone are the days where you could physically walk into a place of business, “drop off” your resume, and use those few minutes of interaction to make somewhat of an impression.
As such, you’re likely to receive an offer letter outlining benefits via email, as opposed to in-person, and your first opportunity to negotiate will likely be through a written message. Even if you’re eventually able to steer the conversation to an in-person or face-to-face discussion, it’s important to feel confident negotiating regardless of the communication medium—email included.
Before I share my template, check out the major pro and con of negotiating via email, to begin with.
The biggest pro about negotiating via email is that you give both yourself and your employer time to think through the raise, or PTO, being requested. Often, making a negotiation request in-person or over the phone results in the opposite person being unable to complete the request as they need to confer with their boss or Human Resources, to see what they can bring to the table. An email, that way, allows the other party sufficient time to make their counteroffer and even gives you time to think over added benefits to negotiate if you aren’t given the salary or bonus you hoped for. I’ve often forgotten about the specifics of other benefits, like PTO or sick leave or flexible hours, in the heat of the moment of negotiating for a higher salary. As such, an email gives both you and your future employer time to think through the offer.
In my opinion, the main con to an email negotiation is the tone of voice. When negotiating, you want to both express your gratitude for an offer but also stand firm that you feel you deserve more. Via email, it is all too easy to come off as arrogant and it’s hard to tell how your message is being received, given that you have no idea when your recipient will access your offer or how soon they’ll respond to you. If you “come off too strong,” it can be mistaken for being rude, and there’s a chance they could go with another candidate instead. However, If you’re not firm enough, you risk reducing your chances of a successful negotiation, overall.
Now, these cons could be applicable in-person too, especially for women who may struggle with standing their ground in a negotiation. It’s a tricky balancing act, considering that over-the-phone or in-person negotiations can also go wrong for someone who is overconfident and comes across as smug. But, these situations are a bit rarer while a tonal misunderstanding via email happens to virtually everyone.
As such, here’s a template I recommend for nailing your email negotiation:
Hi [Insert Name],
Thank you so much for this offer—I am looking forward to starting, soon!
First and foremost, [insert any clarifying questions regarding the offer/benefits package here]? If you could clarify that for me, I’d really appreciate it.
Next, I would like to discuss compensation further. In full transparency, I expected to make $XXK in this position. Can we find a way to bridge the gap? I am confident that I bring a lot of value to the team, here. [Insert paragraph outlining your strengths. If you’re hoping to negotiate a rate that’s significantly higher than what the company quoted, I recommend writing a detailed message re-emphasizing what you bring to the table. If you’re simply hoping to meet market rate, though, and the company has quoted you less than your research indicates you deserve, this is the time to quote that.]
Again, I am incredibly excited to have been offered this position. Thank you for your consideration and I genuinely look forward to working with, and learning from, everyone on the team. I hope we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement. If it would be easier to discuss this further via phone, you can feel free to give me a call at ###-###-#### anytime between [insert date and time].
I look forward to hearing about how we can finalize this offer so that it meets both of our needs.
While this template doesn’t work for negotiating once you’ve already landed the job, it can certainly be tweaked to let your boss know you want a raise or a higher bonus, especially if you find yourself taking on more work, as a result of downsizing during the pandemic.
You can also negotiate other benefits, adding a simple line like:
“I’d like to discuss the possibility of increasing my PTO to 15 days, from 10, given that the salary and bonus seem fixed. … I am looking forward to discussing these final details so we can move ahead with a revised offer letter.”
You always have the best leverage for negotiating after you’ve received an offer letter but before you’ve signed it, so I hope this template is helpful.
Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.
Image via Unsplash