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Samantha Lenger is only a few years into her career, but has always negotiated her salary. She increased her compensation package for her very first job out of college by more than $30,000, and she didn̵[ads1]7;t even do it personally.
“You can absolutely negotiate over email,” Lenger, 24, tells CNBC Make It, and doing so can take the stress and anxiety out of the conversation.
Here’s how she did it.
Lenger was just a few weeks into her senior year of college studying business at North Carolina State University when she received two job offers at the same time.
She was attracted to one company, but the other offered slightly more in total compensation, so she began to figure out how to put herself in the best position.
Longer wrote a message to the recruiter at her top firm, reiterating why she wanted to join the team. Then she openly presented the better offer: “I said, ‘I’m super excited and really appreciate the offer, but have one with a similar company that offers XYZ’ – which was basically a bigger sign-up bonus and bigger overall package – ‘Can you meet me there?”
By writing it all clearly, Lenger could negotiate different parts of the offer package at the same time.
Samantha Lenger has negotiated several job offers via email and says she has even hired people who have used the same method.
If you don’t have a competing offer against which to measure your higher numbers, Lenger says you can find that information through online pay databases like LinkedIn or Glassdoor. Better yet, ask your network. As Lenger considered her options, she asked friends who received offers in the same field about the selection they saw. She also reached out to a few people in her network who were about one to three years into their careers.
It may also be a good time to see if anything is negotiable beyond base salary, such as potential bonuses, wellness or homework stipends, paid time off or your start date.
In Lenger’s case, when she fired off her email, the recruiter replied that they would take her request to the hiring team and get back to her.
A week later, the recruiter responded with a significant bump: a $10,000 raise in salary, a $5,000 sign-on bonus and more stock options that all added up to a roughly $33,000 larger compensation package than the original offer.
Lenger now works as a freelance marketer and negotiates with customers and suppliers on behalf of his own business all the time.
She has also been a hiring manager and once hired a candidate who used a similar technique to negotiate for more money via email. From her employment experience, Lenger learned that it’s generally easier to approve a one-time pay bump, like a sign-on bonus or relocation assistance, rather than getting a significant pay raise.
If there’s one thing she wishes she’d known earlier, Lenger says, it would be to understand how much people expect you to negotiate. “Even though I had mentors asking me to, I thought I was coming out of left field” when I made the requests, she says.
“Everyone in the hiring game expects people to negotiate or at least doesn’t think it’s out of the question” to do so, Lenger adds. She encourages young workers to feel empowered to research and negotiate salaries based on the current market. The influence of workers may not be as strong today as in recent years, but the market is still generally favorable for job candidates.
When it comes to negotiating with hiring teams, Lenger says, “it’s not like they’ve never seen this before.”
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