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Friday Forum – How To Handle a Low Offer?

Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday, we take a question submitted by one of our readers and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage you to comment below and give your personal take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Paul asks:

“Over the past month I have been interviewing for a new position and I have really started getting excited.  I think that the company is a great fit and I feel like I would do well under my potential boss.  I just received a phone call informing me that they would like to offer me the role.  Exciting right?  Well, they actually offered me $4,000 less in base salary then where I am with my current employer!  I am pretty bummed because I thought that this was going to be a great opportunity for me.  I even let them know my current salary expectations during the process, so I was shocked with the low offer.  I am still interested in this opportunity, but I cannot afford to take it for less then what I make today.  Is there anything I can do?”

The first thing to think about in this situation is that you are doing something right.  You were the top candidate for the job!  While you may be disappointed with the low offer, pat yourself on the back for making it this far.

How to handle a low offer?

Low offers are actually a lot more common then you think.  Things like company budgets, employee seniority, or even a candidate’s years of experience or education can be a factor.  In some instances a company may even know that they can’t afford you, but they figure that worst case scenario you’ll turn them down.  So what can you do if you receive a low offer but you want to try and make it work?

Do your research

Hop online and check out sites like,, or to get an idea of average salaries in your field.  This is a good idea even if you were offered less then your current salary as you may find out that you are overpaid in your current position. You can also talk to colleagues and friends to get their take.  They can give you insight on what they think is a reasonable range for the work that you do.

After completing your research, you should know if your offer is “low” for this particular opportunity.  If it is, determine the salary that you would need in order to accept the position.  Even if you passed along salary expectations to the employer earlier in the process, now is the time to tweak your expectations and come up with your absolute bottom line number.  If you really want to be in this role you may have to give a little to make it work.

Start a conversation

Once you have had a chance to do your research and digest all of the information, is it time to run it past the Hiring Manager.  Be confident, stay calm, and stay positive!  Start off the conversation by reiterating your interest in the opportunity and that you think it is a great fit. Politely refer back to your initial salary expectations and let them know that there is a gap between what they offered and what you need in order to take the job.   You can ask for clarification as to how they arrived at that number and if they have any room to move.  Let them know your bottom line number and give specifics reasons to back it up.  This may be something like experience, education, etc.

Other options

Even if the employer is unable to move on salary, there may be a few other ways to get creative and make up on those lost dollars.

  • Future raise in writing after a certain amount of time
  • More vacation time
  • Sign on bonus
  • Education reimbursement
  • Opportunity to work remote

Don’t be afraid to turn it down!

Long story short, know what you are worth and stay confident.  If one company is willing to offer you a position, I can guarantee others will too.  Sometimes a low offer can be a red flag so you need to be careful.  If the Hiring Manager isn’t willing to budge at all on compensation, it could be a sign of things to come.  Walking away can be hard, but sometimes it could also be the best decision you can make.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

Have you ever received a low offer?  How did you handle it?

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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