The “Initial Offer Response” Script
Imagine you’ve just knocked out your interviews for that new Salesforce position you’ve had your eyes on. The interview panel want to move forward with extending you an offer, so the recruiter finds a time to talk over the phone and walks you through your offer.
Recruiter: We’re excited to offer you $X in base salary, with a Y% yearly bonus, $Z in stock over N years. What do you think?
DA: This is interesting. Let me think it over with my family and get back to you in a few days.
The recruiter doesn’t like to hear this, but it helps us retreat to a place to analyze the offer in a cooler state of mind before we use our “Initial Offer Response” script to respond to the offer.
A few days pass. Then I send this:
Thanks so much for your help throughout this interview process. I have enjoyed the experience and conversations I’ve had with you and others on the team.
Being part of company is very exciting, especially since it’s in line with my career goals and interests.
I’ve given the offer a lot of thought and want to share what I’m thinking as I’m making my decision. While I appreciate the initial offer, it’s lower than my expectations. I’m looking to increase my total compensation and I hope that these data points can help:
- Scroll down to see example data points you can use
I want to highlight again that I’ve truly enjoyed my entire interview process with company. However, currently, the initial offer is lower than my current compensation. My preference would be to increase the proposed base salary/sign-on and increase the equity.
Since I intend to stay at company for a long time, I’m requesting a higher base to remain competitive over the years (since I don’t know the timeline for a potential promotion), as well as increased equity for a larger stake in company.
This is a big decision for me, so I appreciate your patience and understanding. I’m really excited about this opportunity, but would like to see a compensation increase based on these data points. I’m looking forward to hearing back from you soon!
What are some data points you can use?
If any of the data points below apply to you, add any of the quotes below to your script.
If you’re making more than the offer extended
The discussed base salary/total compensation is lower than my current figures.
You’re going to be promoted soon
My management has shared they intend to promote me by this_timeframe.
Note: if you know what the salary range for the promoted position, share 10-20% higher than the range with the recruiter.
Are you leaving anything behind?
I would be leaving behind X in RSUs/options that vest through the vesting period.
I would be exercising a sizable amount of options that I received as I leave my current company.
Do you have competing offers?
I stress why it’s important to get competing offers because it is the strongest data point you could offer to the recruiter. It signals to the company that you are in high demand.
I received another initial offer that has a competitive base salary, annual cash bonus, and very competitive equity grant. I have shared the same figures with them, so we are currently in the process of increasing the offer and negotiating a higher base salary and equity grant, as well as a cash sign-on bonus.
Why you should use this script
It shows excitement: It’s important to show you’re excited about the offer because they may go the extra mile in talking to their compensation team to get you to join.
It’s clear the offer falls short: Sometimes, candidates can be ambiguous when they don’t like an offer because they don’t want to seem rude, ungrateful, or inconsiderate. I’m here to say that being up-front and respectful about the offer falling short in this script will fare for you better than being wishy-washy in your response.
You are armed with data points: Do you have other offers? Are you perfectly fine with staying at your current job if the offer isn’t to your liking? Have you done research on compensation ranges for the position at places like levels.fyi? These data points will help bolster your case.
It shows you’re flexible: You might have a total compensation number and are ok with how the company meets you at that number. Depending on the company, there are different levers you can pull to get you toward your desired compensation. For some, salary is more negotiable. For others, it might be equity. Maybe it’s a sign-on bonus.
Hints you intend to stay for a while: In order for you to commit the next N years of your working life to working at company, the offer must be compelling enough.
Has this script ever worked before?
Below is a screenshot of an extra $30k I got as a sign on bonus. It’s worked for me enough times to think you’d get value out of it.