The counteroffer: Responding to a lowball offer

lowball offer

The counteroffer: Responding to a lowball offer


You’ve just stepped out of an interview having aced all the questions. You’re feeling good. And then blindsided by a lowball offer. How do you counter?

As recruiters, we experience the lowball offer on both sides. We might have an exceptional candidate whose experience demands a higher salary than the offer carries. Or we might have a great client, but the market is saturated and what’s considered a ‘competitive salary’ may sit lower than market-rate five years earlier. Fortunately, negotiation is almost always possible.


Responding to a lowball offer


There are a few approaches to handling your counteroffer:

1. Direct


What’s your minimum salary? If the job offer you receive sits well below what’s acceptable (at least for you), you can always spell this out very clearly to the employer: “I’m sorry I cannot accept this role below [minimum salary]”.

We wouldn’t suggest using this approach first as it’s unlikely you’ll receive an offer higher than your minimum and the job could fall through entirely.


2. Ask for some time


If a company is impressed enough to offer you a job, and the salary is within an acceptable range, consider asking for some time to mull it over. A few days of silence could spur your prospective employer to reconsider their off or up the incentives. It also gives you some time to talk to your recruiter, friends and family to consider the offer in full.

Before you re-engage, be clear on your counteroffer points; your non-negotiables and the skills and experience you can bring to the team.


3. Soft counter


As a softer take on the direct approach, explain to your prospective employer (in a diplomatic fashion) that the job offer is not what you expected and you’re disappointed. Let them know what factors may sway you to join the team: raising the salary, adding other benefits, reducing work hours, or writing bonuses based on performance into the contract. This empowers the employer to be able to respond in a way that will meet you in the middle.


The counteroffer dance


There’s a certain skill in transforming a lowball offer into a best possible job offer. If you’re unsure on the best approach for your situation, reach out for a second opinion.


If you need advice on the job market or landing a new opportunity, please reach out to a team member or email [email protected]