Negotiate Your Salary Over Email
Here’s what I’ve learned after helping hundreds of people negotiate their salaries by email.
Email creates a written record of every conversation.
You’d be surprised how often companies go back on something they said “unofficially” during a phone negotiation. As any attorney will tell you “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” With an email negotiation, there is always a written record of everything that was agreed to.
Email allows you to control the pace of the negotiation.
Employers always want to finish your salary negotiation as quickly as possible. In the rush, crucial details are overlooked and you forget to review the stock option package or bonus structure. Before you know it, you have accepted a substandard offer and there is nothing you can do to fix it. But with an email negotiation, you are the one who gets to decide when to make the next move.
Over email there is less social pressure for you to accept a weak offer.
One of the most surprising things I have learned over the years as a pro salary negotiator is that most people are extremely hesitant to upset the social order. In fact, many people will actually agree to a low offer made over the phone, just because they have a hard time saying “No.” Email negotiation eliminates this social pressure.
Your opponent can’t read your voice and facial expressions over email. Negotiating salary is a lot like poker: everything depends on what you think the other person is thinking. Much like poker, you will do better in your salary negotiation if your opponent can’t see your face or hear your voice.
An employer might throw out a low salary number over the phone just to hear how you react. Based on your reaction they can then adjust the full offer up or down in real time. If you sound happy with the salary, they can then tell you a smaller number for the bonus. Email negotiation neutralizes this trick.
Email allows you to carefully choose every word of the negotiation.
Most people spend less time preparing for their salary negotiation than they would for a test in high school. But this is the real world. High school and college were supposed to teach you the value of preparation. Meanwhile the average Joe counts on an errant belief that somehow the right words will just magically fall out of his mouth and his employer will pay top dollar.
In reality, salary negotiation is a lot more like performing in a high school play: if you don’t stick to the script, you will appear foolish. Email gives you the chance to script out every single word of your negotiation and leverage subtle tricks like priming, cognitive bias, and behavioral economics, to completely turn the tables and gain a massive advantage over your employer.
So How Do You Negotiate Your Salary By Email?
When you receive a job offer, 9 times out of 10 it will come over the phone. The hiring manager, human resources representative, office manager, or even future boss, will call you excitedly with the news.
Immediately after they extend the offer, they will ask “So what do you think?” This is the part of the conversation where they try to get you to immediately accept over the phone and forgo your right to negotiate a slightly better job offer.
If you want to maximize your chances of negotiating a higher salary, it’s imperative that you avoid the temptation to accept, and instead focus on accomplishing three things during your phone conversation.
Step 1: You must respond with thankful excitement about being given the job offer.
Step 2: You must politely request a couple of days to “sleep on it” before you get back to them.
Step 3: You must ask them to share “the details of the offer” so you can review the offer letter and benefits plan before you sign.
Remember, your odds of success in a salary negotiation go way up once you have a written offer in-hand.
A written offer is a measure of commitment that is far more difficult to reverse than a verbal offer. Written offers have an expiration date (meaning the offer is legally open for several days). Phone offers can legally expire the moment you hang up the phone.
Outside of the sports and entertainment arenas, I am the only professional salary negotiator I know of who has actually negotiated hundreds of salaries for clients over email. I know through experience which moves work in a salary negotiation and which do not.
For a complete script of what to say during a phone negotiation, take a look at this article Negotiating Your Salary By Phone.
I also teach an online course that shows exactly what words to use when negotiating your salary over email: How To Negotiate Your Salary By Email.