Should You Ever Negotiate Salary Over Email?

Twenty-eight percent of respondents to PayScale’s Salary Survey said they hadn’t negotiated salary specifically because they were uncomfortable discussing money. If you’re one of them, you might wonder whether email is a solution to your problem. After all, it’s easier to be confident in your request when you can proofread it before the hiring manager “hears” it. (Plus, no one can tell if your palms are sweaty.)

So, can you cut out the uncomfortable conversation and do it over email, instead? The answer is: it depends.

When to Negotiate in Person/on the Phone

If your goal is to get the highest salary possible, having the conversation the old-fashioned way might be your best bet.

Generally speaking, “it’s better to do in person or over the phone,” says Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert at The Balance. “It’s easier to not get yourself locked into a numbers game.”

Negotiating in person gives you the opportunity to adjust your script, based on the feedback you’re receiving from the hiring manager – not to mention, his or her body language, which can be a big tip-off.

When to Negotiate Over Email

If you truly can’t stomach the idea of asking for more money in person, Doyle says email can also work “if you phrase it carefully.” Applicants should mention that they’re very interested in the position, she says, and then ask if there is any flexibility in the compensation package. (See her sample negotiation email here.)

“It could also be easier for the employer, because they don’t have to respond right away,” she adds.

Of course, that also means that you have to wait for a response — and bite your nails wondering whether your request was taken the wrong way. Bottom line: it’s probably best to negotiate in person or on the phone if you can manage it … but if you can’t, asking for more is always better than not asking.

Negotiation Tips, Regardless of How You Ask:

1. Know your worth. Many hiring managers will try to peg offers to your salary history, but compensation should be determined by the role, not the candidate’s previous jobs. PayScale’s Salary Survey can help you find the appropriate range for the job and your skills and education.

2. Know what you want to say. Whether you’re negotiating over email or in person, it’s important to choose the right words and ask in the right way. These salary scripts can help you get started. Obviously, you’ll have to adjust based on the responses you get from the hiring manager, but preparation always pays off.

3. Know where to draw the line. Unless you’re desperate for a job, there’s always going to be a rock-bottom number, below which you cannot accept. Know what that number is, before you go into the negotiation — but don’t give it to the hiring manager right off the bat. Never throw out a number you wouldn’t be happy accepting, either as the low end of a range or as a single target. It’s likely to wind up being your offer, and you don’t want to start out the negotiation feeling unappreciated. That’s not in the hiring manager’s best interest or yours.