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I just got an initial programming job offer for $75k + benefits. It's an initial offer, so I feel like I should give a counter offer to avoid unnecessarily leaving any money on the table, but I've never negotiated a salary before and I don't have any real reason for requesting more money other than, "I shouldn't just take the initial offer." Questions...

  1. If I'm happy with the initial offer, would it be smart to give a counter offer and ask for more money and risk losing the job offer?
  2. If so, how should I approach asking for more without any real justification?

I should mention that I already have a job (at a very prominent software company), but it pays $16k/year less with no benefits. As such, I don't feel already having a job improves my position any.

Thanks so much in advance for your wisdom!

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closed as off topic by ChrisF Aug 21 '12 at 8:41

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So you don't actually think you deserve more? If you think you do, there must be some reason for it. –  simoraman Aug 21 '12 at 6:01
It's much easier to negotiate if you have a second offer on the table, or if you're already working. I don't see where you have a position of strength here. Also, this probably belongs on Workplace. –  JasonTrue Aug 21 '12 at 6:03
What country are you from ? –  Radu Murzea Aug 21 '12 at 6:08
I do have an existing job, but it pays about $16k/year less and has no benefits. –  BeachRunnerJoe Aug 21 '12 at 6:12
I think this belongs on workplace.stackexchange.com –  CraigTP Aug 21 '12 at 7:39

3 Answers 3

Thinking that you are worth more is sufficient justification for asking.

Of course, you've also got to convince them that you are worth more. And if it is not self-evident that you are worth more, then you shouldn't be too surprised if they turn down your request.

Basically, it is up to you to decide whether you are prepared to take the risk of being passed over.

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I'd hate to be passed over by giving them a slightly higher ($5K/year more) counter offer, when I would take their initial offer. –  BeachRunnerJoe Aug 21 '12 at 6:16
@BeachRunnerJoe - then there's your answer... –  Anonymous Aug 21 '12 at 6:27

Personally, I would take it. You've already said you're happy with the offer, and it's better than your current job.

If you're insistent on making a counter offer however, this may be a great time to negotiate terms other than salary. You may want to consider perks in your counter offer. Perhaps you could negotiate a subscription to Safari Books Online (or some similar service) for continuous learning?

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If you haven't done that already, I would try to find out how much similar positions are generally paid in your area. It could be that the offer they gave you is still below average even though it's more than you are paid now, and then you can use that knowledge to negotiate a higher salary. Or maybe the offer was really good and then you will know that and don't have to worry that you could have gotten more just for the asking.

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