Can You Lose A Job Offer By Negotiating Salary?

A man in a pile of money. Possibly earned thanks to positive salary negotiations.

Job interviews are challenging for many reasons, regardless of how often you’ve been through them. However, one of the most challenging parts to navigate is the salary negotiations. Aside from not getting the pay you want, can you lose the job offer entirely by negotiating salary?

Yes, it’s possible to lose a job offer by negotiating a salary. However, you won’t lose the offer because you chose to negotiate your salary but rather because of how you handled the discussion. For example, demanding an unreasonable salary or being defensive can cause the company to rescind the job offer. Instead, stay calm and negotiate based on the value you can bring to the company.

This in-depth guide will walk you through salary negotiations when receiving a job offer. You’ll learn why people lose job offers at that stage and how you can handle it the best way possible.

Can You Lose A Job Offer By Negotiating The Salary?

Yes, you can lose a job offer given to you by negotiating the salary. That can certainly happen even if every other part of the interview went perfectly well until the discussion about your compensation emerged.

Generally, the hiring manager might rescind the job offer if the salary negotiations show that you’re no longer a good fit for the organization. For example, you might have demanded too much or behaved in a way that wasn’t ideal. 

You’ll learn more about those reasons later in this guide.

Despite the possibility of losing the offer during salary negotiations, you should always be bold in exploring the topic of compensation with the hiring manager. Open and honest communications about your expected pay will simplify things for everyone involved. 

The most important thing is to know how to approach the topic of your expected salary in a way that benefits everyone.

Learning how to negotiate correctly is crucial because you should earn a salary that matches the value you offer to the organization. In addition, the amount they pay you should align with your education, career experience, and skill set.

However, you must also remember that salary negotiations shouldn’t just focus on the dollar figure they offer. Instead, discussions about your salary can also include other forms of compensation and perks like stock options, insurance, and more.

An image of a joyful woman standing behind a large stack of money while more money rains down from above.

Why Did I Lose A Job Offer When Negotiating Salary?

Suppose you lost a job offer because of something that happened during the salary negotiations. In that case, you most likely made one or more of the following mistakes:

1. Asking For An Excessive Salary Beyond Industry Standards

The first and most common reason for losing a job offer during salary negotiations is asking for a salary that’s far too high for the position. Worse than that is asking for a salary that’s well beyond the industry-standard salary for an equivalent position elsewhere.

Never forget that the people hiring you for the position have done their research about the role, just as you likely have. That includes researching what other companies in the industry pay for similar positions in their organizations.

You’re being unreasonable when you demand a salary that’s far too high. Not only that, the way you ask for that amount could also suggest to them that you’re self-centered, which prompts them to rescind the job offer.

2. Made Assumptions About The Company’s Finances

Another mistake that could lose you the job offer is making assumptions about the company’s finances. 

More specifically, you’re asking them to pay a higher salary based on your perception of the company’s success and capabilities, but not for any rational reason (e.g. your qualifications and experience).

Despite the company’s success, asking for more money based on that will show them that you’re being opportunistic. In other words, you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re only applying for a job to take advantage of their success.

That’s a red flag for the people hiring you, as it shows your motivations aren’t sincere. That’s a good enough reason for them to rescind the job offer and take on a candidate who genuinely wants to be a part of the organization.

3. Based Your Expected Salary On Personal Reasons

During job interviews and salary negotiations, you should never go into too much detail about your personal financial situation. 

For example, it’s a big mistake to negotiate for a higher salary and justify it by saying that you’re in debt or have expensive bills to pay.

Remember: those financial problems belong to you, not the company you’re trying to work for. It’s not the company’s responsibility to help you fix your financial challenges by paying you more.

4. Used Insider Information

As you read earlier, it’s best to base your salary expectations on the value you can bring to the role. That is typically based on your education, experience, and skills.

However, you should never do so based on any insider information you might have.

For example, the company’s current employees might have told you what they currently earn. But that information is meant to be kept a secret, especially towards potential hires like yourself.

Using that kind of privileged information could lose you the job offer immediately.

5. Being Emotional During Negotiations

Lastly, you can lose a job offer during salary negotiations if you’re being too emotional. For example, perhaps you were defensive when the hiring manager asked you to justify your expected salary.

Remember: it’s a negotiation, a discussion between two sides who are trying to reach an agreement. There’s no need to react emotionally, especially when they ask for an explanation to understand how you chose your expected salary.

An image of two individuals shaking hands after a successful salary negotiation.

How To Negotiate Salary Without Losing The Job Offer

In the previous section, you read about the mistakes that could cost you a job offer during salary negotiations. Now, here are a few tips for how you can do better in those kinds of discussions.

Here’s how you can negotiate a salary without losing a job offer:

  • Do your research: Firstly, you should always come prepared for the negotiation. That means you should research how much people normally get paid throughout the industry for the role that you’re applying to. Doing so will give you an understanding of what salaries are too high or too low.
  • Consider the package: Always consider the complete compensation package when negotiating your pay. Even if the dollar figure isn’t what you’d like, you might receive more value in other forms like equity and benefits. Your compensation isn’t just about how many dollars they pay you.
  • Be enthusiastic: You should always be enthusiastic during job interviews, especially during salary negotiations. The hiring managers want to know if you’re still interested in the role. If they sense that you’ve lost interest, they won’t bother focusing too much energy on you.
  • Get everything in writing: After agreeing, you must ensure that everything is recorded in writing. That could be in an email or a letter stating the salary you have agreed to with the hiring manager.

Overall, remember that your salary negotiation is not a zero-sum game. The point isn’t for there to be a winner and a loser in the discussion.

Instead, the whole point of the process is to secure a win-win, to find a salary you’re happy to receive and the company is pleased to pay.

How Do You Determine Your Expected Salary?

The best way to negotiate for anything is to do so from an informed position. In other words, you should do your homework about what you’re negotiating before you even walk into the room.

In this case, you’re negotiating your salary for a position offered to you. To negotiate effectively, you must understand your background, the job you’re applying to, the industry, and the geographic location.

For example, you can determine your expected salary by considering three factors:

  • The role: Firstly, you must research the average salary for the position you’re applying for. The most accurate source of that information is government data available through the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • The industry: Next, you must also consider the industry you’re applying to. Some roles exist across multiple industries, and although the responsibilities are the same, the average pay could differ by sector. Again, government data will be beneficial to you.
  • The geographic location: The cost of living is higher in some parts of the country than others. As a result, the average salaries in those areas are higher than in others. For example, the average salaries for two similar roles will likely be higher in New York than in Wyoming. 
  • Your background: Last but not least, you must consider your background. Your academic credentials, work experience, skill sets, and past achievements can justify a slightly higher expected salary.

You’ll arrive at a reasonable number after considering all of the above. That amount will serve as the starting point in your salary negotiations. From there, you and the hiring manager will negotiate to find a number you can agree to.

How To Justify Your Expected Salary

Suppose you’ve told the interviewer or hiring manager about your expected salary. Naturally, they’ll ask you to provide a justification or explanation so they can understand how you arrived at that amount.

Here are the points you can highlight when answering them:

  • Firstly, discuss your current salary. Your current earnings are a helpful benchmark to tie to your expected salary. That will help the hiring manager understand that you’ve already proven you’re worth a similar amount.
  • Secondly, explain how your expected salary is based on the industry standard for people in similar roles with similar qualifications. Not only does it justify your requested salary to them, but it also shows that you’ve researched the matter thoroughly.
  • Next, highlight the value you bring to the table. More specifically, highlight your skills, strengths, and past results, and explain how they can benefit the company if they hire you. In simpler terms, help them understand what they’d be paying for if they agreed to your salary request.
  • Then, remember to give them a salary range instead of a precise figure. That will show them that you’re flexible and gives them room to negotiate.
  • Lastly, always emphasize that you’re willing to negotiate. After you present the reasons for your expected salary, they’ll likely do the same. They might also have reasons why they can only pay you a certain amount, so hear them out.

Although you read this earlier, it’s worth repeating: your salary negotiations are two-sided discussions. They’re not meant to produce a winner and a loser. Instead, the goal is to find a salary figure that both sides can agree to.

Should You Negotiate Your Salary After Accepting The Job Offer?

So far, we’ve explored the topic of losing a job offer when negotiating the salary. We’ve also covered how to best negotiate the salary before accepting the offer.

But should you negotiate your salary after you’ve signed and accepted the job offer?

Generally, it depends on how much time has passed. The sooner you rush into renegotiating your salary, the more challenging it’ll be. After all, you and the hiring manager have just spent time discussing your pay while they offered you the job.

If you’ve just joined the organization, you should wait at least six months before discussing or re-negotiating your salary. Waiting that period will allow you to reassess if you’re being paid fairly and have enough time to demonstrate your value to the company.

Beyond that, you can renegotiate your salary and ask for a raise during your annual performance review. That way, you can justify your request based on how well you’ve been performing in your role.

Final Thoughts

As you read through this article, you’ve learned that it’s possible to lose a job offer by negotiating the salary. However, the negotiation itself isn’t why you’d lose the offer, but rather how you handled the negotiations.

For example, the company might rescind the job offer if you’re demanding an unreasonable amount for your salary. The same can happen if you’re emotional or defensive during the discussion.

Instead, you should do your research to understand what the industry-standard salary is. Then, you can negotiate based on your background, including your academic credentials, work experience, and personal strengths.

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