Is It OK to Renegotiate Salary after Accepting a Job Offer?

The art of salary negotiation can be a tricky one. Negotiate too much, and you risk losing the job altogether. Not enough, and you may wind up settling for a lower salary than you would have liked. But what happens if you go ahead and accept a job offer, then decide you really need more money in order to make it worth your while?


It’s possible, but not preferred

While it’s technically possible to try and renegotiate your salary after accepting a job offer, it’s certainly not preferable by any stretch of the imagination. By backtracking and requesting more than the offered (and accepted) salary, your brand-new employer will instantly see you as someone whose skills and ethics are called into question. You risk coming off as a person who doesn’t pay attention to details—after all, the salary was in the job offer.

Did you not read it closely enough? Or perhaps you’re just wishy-washy—the salary seemed good at first, but now you’re having second thoughts. Neither one of these scenarios makes you look like a particularly competent employee…and all of this is happening before you even set foot in the office! Deciding to ask for a raise after you accept the job offer could very well result in the job offer being rescinded entirely, so make sure you’re prepared for that possibility and are still willing to risk it.

Wait, if you can

Instead, it makes much more sense to wait and ask for a raise at the first instance of a performance review or employee evaluation. This can be a mere few months after you begin your new job, yet it gives you enough time to make some good impressions at the company and really wow your bosses with your achievements. A raise as a result of excellent performance is much more digestible for employers than a last-minute salary increase demand because you have the data and results to prove you’re worth the extra money. It’s all about having leverage, and the painful truth of the matter is that you only gain that leverage by putting in the time.

If you’re going to do it, prepare to give a good reason

If you’re absolutely determined to renegotiate your salary after you’ve already accepted the job offer, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. Open up the talks by admitting you weren’t prepared to talk about salary at the time of the job offer because you hadn’t realized all of the job details and responsibilities. Make sure you have facts to back up your new salary request—this requires doing some major research to find out exactly what someone with your experience and with your new job responsibilities in your particular geographical area makes on average—and present it in a way that makes your employer feel that it’s a negotiation, not a demand.

The answer might be no

All that being said, prepare for a “no” from your employer, and be ready to concede graciously. As we said before, only attempt this request if you’re willing to lose the job entirely, and if you haven’t started work (or work-related duties) yet. If you’ve already shown up to the office, even for a day or two? Simply put, it’s too late to do anything. Take this experience as a crash course in what not to do when accepting a job offer and resign yourself to the fact that you now have a job for the salary you initially agreed to. While it may not be your ideal situation, you’ve received an invaluable education on how job offers work.

It’s important to know how to stand up for yourself during salary negotiation—you should be paid fairly for the contributions you bring to the company. But once that job offer is accepted, the window for salary negotiation has largely closed—at least until your first performance review. Take the experience as the lesson it is: Give yourself a day before signing anything, even if you’re really excited about it, in order to carefully consider the contract.

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