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Congrats on your pending job offer! If you’ve landed here, I’m guessing you’re wondering how to politely decline an offer due to salary. The good news is that after reading the steps in this article, you will walk away feeling more empowered. You will also have an outline for how to approach the conversation with your potential employer.
Going through multiple rounds of interviews just to end up with a lowball salary offer can feel disappointing and frustrating. To avoid the frustration, I teach my clients about the importance of setting boundaries upfront. A part of setting boundaries during the interview process is asking for pay transparency.
Understanding the company’s financial capabilities upfront is important. Why? It helps you (and them) avoid wasting time. Declining an offer due to salary can seem intimidating and you may even feel a sense of guilt. You’re not alone. Remember saying no to a job offer is part of the process you’ll go through when job hunting. Ultimately, it will lead you to a company who is willing and able to compensate you fairly.
Before you decline an offer due to salary it’s important that you choose the right format. This means you will contact the right professionals and weigh the pros and cons of the position. I will walk you through how to decline a job offer with confidence.
When it comes to declining a job offer politely, it is important that you are respectful. Part of being respectful is communicating with the company using the primary method they have used throughout the process.
This means, if the job offer came to you by email, it is appropriate for you to decline the job offer by email. When crafting this email, you will want to make sure to keep it short, simple, and to the point. Below are three examples of how to decline a job offer due to salary by email.
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,
I want to thank you for extending me an offer to join your team as a (Name of Position). Although I would love to become a part of your team, I will unfortunately need to decline at this time. In full transparency, the salary offered is currently below my minimum salary requirement. If anything changes in the future with the salary range, I’d like to be considered.
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,
It has been a pleasure getting to know your team and having the opportunity to learn more about (Company Name). I am happy to receive an offer for the (Name of Role). Due to the currently salary allocated for the role, I will need to decline the offer at this time. Thank you again for the opportunity. I wish you and the (Name of the Team) the best as you move forward.
This job offer decline template is for if you really want the job and are hoping to negotiate salary terms and benefits.
Dr. Mr./Ms. Last Name,
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to join your team as a (NAME OF POSITION). I would like to move forward with accepting the role, but would first like to come to a mutual agreement regarding salary. The minimum salary, I am able to accept begins at (SALARY FIGURE). If you and your team are open to negotiating the salary for this role, I would be happy to discuss the details further.
Feel free to reach me by phone or email at (YOUR INFORMATION). I look forward to speaking with you soon.
I hear this question a lot! Many professionals feel guilty for participating in the interview process and later realize the role is not a good fit due to salary. In my opinion, it is better to decline a job offer due to salary, then to start and quit because you realize you can’t make it work. Starting a job and quitting shortly after due to salary is a quick way to burn bridges and build frustration for you and the employer.
Although you are declining a job offer due to salary, remember to try to keep a good reputation with the company you are turning down. Always leave the lines of communication open by expressing your gratitude and willingness to keep in touch. Often times employers are willing to negotiate the salary with you whenever you decline the job offer.
If the employer is considering offering you a higher offer after you decline the job, they will start the conversation by asking you, “what are your salary requirements?” I recommend providing an amount then is higher than your actual minimum. For example, your target salary is $75K and they offered you $68K, I would recommend asking for $80K. Employers will usually try negotiating down to “meet you in the middle.” When they land on $75K they will most like believe that you were flexible and will then throw in additional perks and benefits to sweeten the deal.
This is another strategy to keep in mind. If you are bummed about declining the offer due to salary, but still really want to work at the company, think about additional perks you can ask for. Additional perks can include things like free parking, remote work option, shortened workweek, additional vacation time, etc. Try to think outside of the box and make sure to only negotiate perks that are important to you.
Once you are put in the position of declining a job offer, take notes on how you can avoid receiving job offers that you need to decline in the future. Let’s face it, getting job offers that you ultimately decline wastes your time and the employers. Below are common mistakes that professionals often make when conducting a job search.
Not paying attention to the language in the job posting.
If you see phrases like, “early-career” “new comer” “working your way up” “great opportunity for someone new” “growing company” etc., it is safe to consume that the salary may be on the lower end.
Not researching the company’s average salaries using sites like Indeed or Glassdoor.
Both sites can give you a glimpse of how much has been offered to previous professionals in the role you’re going for (or similar ones).
Not asking about the salary before attending the interview.
If a job posting doesn’t disclose the salary, it is acceptable to ask for a salary range before attending the interview. Nervous about how to ask? Simply say that you value transparency and do not want to waste the employer’s time. Often, they will be willing to give you a range after this. If they aren’t take this into consideration and ask yourself if you want to work for a company that avoid transparency.
Not asking about the salary during the first round of interviews.
Once you are in the room and you’ve made a great impression, the next step is asking for a salary range. Again, you do not want to waste your time or theirs. It is completely acceptable to ask for a range. Saying something along the lines of, “during my research and review of the position, I didn’t see a salary range listed, do you mind sharing that with me?”
Applying for roles that you are overqualified for.
Many professionals “play it safe” by applying for roles that they feel like they are 100% qualified for. The truth is, even if you are just 60% qualified for a role, you’re still qualified. You always want to have room to grow and many of the tasks you may not know how to do, you can learn. Apply for that role and get paid what you deserve!
Applying for roles that are consistently reposted.
This is a major red flag in general. Whether it’s due to low salary, poor benefits, or a toxic environment, you want to stay away from roles that are reposted multiple times within one or two years.
Receiving a job offer and realizing you have to decline it due to the salary can be disappointing, but also empowering. I want to encourage you to continue recognizing and asking for your worth. Continue being intentional and identifying red flags so that you can land a role that pays you your worth 10xs over.
As always, I wish you the best as you navigate your job search. If you need support and looking for a career coach, I’d love to work with you. You can sign up to work with me here.
If you’re not ready for long-term coaching, but would like feedback or advice. Sign up for a time to meet with me for a power-hour of coaching (click here).
Cheers to your success!