Never Accept the First Salary Offer

Executive Coaching

Why Accepting the First Salary Offer is Never a Good Idea


One of the key issues I tackle in my executive coaching work is helping clients negotiate the salary, bonus and perks they want in a new job.

What always surprises me is the anxiety that clients display in trying to come up with the salary number to request.

The anxiety is often coupled with feelings of gratitude (wow, they offered me a job!) or, I don’t want to appear greedy (they won’t think I’m a team player if I ask for a lot plus they already said they have a limited budget).

Have these thoughts entered your mind in dealing with the salary issue?

I bet they have.

I’d like to offer my point of view.

Sheryl Sandburg, the COO of Facebook, and the author of the new and controversial book “Lean In,” suggests that women need to step up and learn to negotiate salaries that reflect what they are truly worth.

However, my experience in coaching executives proves that
asking for what you are worth is not only a women’s issue; men
also lack adequate negotiating skills.

Here are two recent examples:

A client came to me because he was about to accept a new job with a government agency. He was going back to the public sector after working in a large private corporation for several years.

The potential new boss said they were limited by the salaries of their current employees. During our session the client told me that offers were tied to salary grades (hard numbers) and sign-on bonuses were unheard of in government.

However, the client had progressed a long way in experience and value since his prior government service and needed to factor that
into his new ask.

I pressed him to request a salary matching his current compensation. My client negotiated over several weeks with his potential new boss.

The upshot was that they not only matched his current salary, which was a big ask, but they also gave him a sign-on bonus!

What does this prove?

Always ask for what you deserve. If the new employer really wants you they will “find” the money, government or not.

A second example was a client who was consulting for a growing entertainment company. They offered her a full-time position and she
was struggling to figure out what salary to request. She wanted to match the salary of her last full-time job but was reluctant to request
that because the employer said they had a “limited budget.”

After our discussion, she requested 10K more than her last salary. The company initially countered with a lower offer. She persisted and inquired if they could do better. They not only came back with the 10K she asked but agreed to an early performance review.

My client knew she had superior skills for the job and she had proven her value. Her negotiating position was strong.

Not every potential candidate has a strong bargaining position going into a salary negotiation. However, be aware that most employer’s use the phrase, “we have a limited budget” as a negotiating ploy to apply pressure to the candidate to accept a lower offer.

The lesson here is:

Don’t buy into the “limited budget” tactic.

At a minimum, always say you need time to think over the first offer. This will give you breathing room to develop your negotiating

Consider this: negotiating is a skill all employers value and they will be watching and impressed by how you handle this first negotiating test.

Learning to recognize and successfully navigate the methods employers use in salary negotiations will strengthen your resolve
never to accept the first offer.


Do you need guidance in negotiating your new salary? Working with an executive coach can make all the difference. Also offering Corporate Coaching for Organizations

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