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Negotiating Over Email vs. Call
There are many similarities between negotiating in these two formats. The similarities are still important to consider as you head into negotiations, as they serve as the basis of all negotiations.
Having Multiple Opportunities
It is common to explore multiple opportunities as you search for your next job. One similarity between negotiating over email and over a call is that you need to base your strategy on your most powerful piece of leverage. This can include opportunities at your current company or opportunities where you are still in the early stages.
Company-specific Compensation Policies
Tying into the above point, company-specific compensation policies are important to consider as well. From negotiation processes to flexibility on specific compensation components, each company has their own characteristics that must be leveraged to get the optimal outcome during a negotiation.
As one example, you need to know that Amazon factors in stock appreciation in their 4-year offers.
The Number You Want to Get
When negotiating over email, you still need to have a clear idea of the number you are targeting (goal) and what number you will ask for to get there (anchor).
Often people just ask for what they want but mind the difference between the two. This is something you will want to prepare before you head into negotiations as it feeds into your overarching strategy.
These differences have a measurable impact on negotiation outcomes and are hard to avoid when negotiating through email. We'll cover this impact more later on, but for now, the main differences are:
Fewer Opportunities to Get Information Over Email
One of the most important differences when negotiating over email is that you have fewer opportunities to gather information, which can have a major impact on the overall outcome.
They say information is power and it is certainly true when it comes to compensation negotiations. It's a lot easier for the recruiter to avoid our questions, and a lot harder for us to avoid theirs when negotiating via email.
It's Harder to Build Rapport Over Email
It is true that you can take your time to digest emails and to draft a reply. The difference here between emailing and calling does result in less stress when it comes to the delivery of your negotiation strategy. However, you miss out on being able to chat with the recruiter and to build rapport, which is one of the most underrated factors influencing negotiation outcomes.
Email Negotiations Take Longer
A general difference between negotiating over email vs. call is that negotiations done through email take longer. If your goal is to get negotiations over with, doing it over email won't help. The break in communication and wait time between emails generally leads to longer completion times and can cause a lot of stress with impending deadlines
Benefits and Drawbacks of Email Negotiations
It can be more comfortable to negotiate salary over email, as you can take your time to draft your reply and don't have to worry about being put on the spot. This may help to avoid saying the wrong things.
However, having a well thought out plan pre-negotiations should protect you against this in either case. You also won't have to worry about your tone as much, but you'll still need to be mindful of this over email as impressions can still be made through verbiage and how things are framed.
Lastly, there is some benefit to having everything in written record - though we've never run into issues with this when negotiating with tech companies via calls. The main benefit of having things recorded is that it's easier for you to reference back to points and keep track of everything.
Those were some of the benefits to negotiating over email, but there are a number of drawbacks we also need to address. Some of these drawbacks may seem small on their own, but from our experience, they make a material impact on a negotiation.
- Difficulty gathering information
- Inability to build rapport with recruiters and hiring managers
- Inability to deflect questions
- Higher probability of being asked to confirm cross offers
Gathering Information Is More Difficult
Getting into the more explicit drawbacks of negotiating salary over email, you are also at a disadvantage when its comes to information gathering and negotiation tactics. Just like how you are able to take your time to craft a response, so can the recruiter.
In our experience across hundreds of these negotiations, being able to ask key questions live and use various negotiation tactics on the call has yielded valuable information which leads to significant increases. The success rate for these questions via email negotiation is much lower.
For example, getting the recruiter to share the ranges for the role or that the offer is not maxed out is a lot easier to do on a call rather than an email.
It's Much Harder to Build Rapport Over Email
A less measurable yet still important factor is that it is much harder to build rapport with the recruiter or hiring manager over email. Your recruiter is usually the proxy to the compensation team and better numbers.
When you strip away human voice and the spontaneity of a live call to chat about non salary related subjects, it becomes much more difficult to build a relationship through just text.
Building a positive relationship with your recruiter increases the chance they will represent you positively and is key to having a successful negotiation.
It's Harder to Deflect Questions
When negotiating over email it's harder for you to avoid questions as they are there point blank and it shows more clearly you are intentionally avoiding that question. On a call, you have more flexibility through verbiage, the information you highlight, tone, and the ability to redirect the conversation.
The Company is More Likely to Ask For Competing Offers in Writing
Lastly, the likelihood of the recruiter asking for more details or to share proof of competing offer numbers "in writing" becomes much higher as you are already communicating over email. Recruiters are generally less inclined to ask to see proof when discussing numbers and compensation over calls. It becomes more difficult to avoid these requests and to deflect.
All of the aforementioned points lead to less success in negotiations done over email and consistently worse outcomes.
Salary Negotiation Email Best Practices
If you still feel compelled to carry out your negotiations over email, here are some key elements of an effective salary negotiation email strategy.
At Rora, we help draft critical emails for our clients, which allows us to get into situation and company-specific advice. For now though, this is our high-level advice.
Write Out Your Negotiation Email Strategy
As mentioned previously, it is important to have your strategy and plan laid out before you even start negotiating. For example, sharing sensitive information around your current compensation, expected compensation and competing opportunities can make or break the rest of your negotiation. While you may have more time to draft responses, you can't go back in time to take back something you said if the original strategy wasn't well set up.
Even before the offer is extended or confirmed, all the information you share or don't share will be used against you.
Things like the dreaded information form that asks for your current compensation or when the recruiter asks you if you are interviewing anywhere else can all be critical turning points for the negotiation.
You'll want to make sure you ask the right questions and answer the recruiters questions in a way that sets you up for success and doesn't box you in.
Be Selective With Your Current Salary & Details About Other Opportunities
The balance between the information we want to highlight to the recruiter and the information we don't want to disclose is at the core of a good negotiation. Managing this well leads to successful negotiations and greater increases. Verbiage and how you position information is very important.
For example, if you were trying to uplevel at a company how would you position that? You would need to approach it from an external point of view rather than simply saying based on your experience you think you should be upleveled.
How can you best position scope, responsibilities, comp, and competing opportunities to get the recruiter to bring up upleveling?
As another example, if your competing offer is in a different location, for a slightly different role title, or at a lower level, you need to be extremely careful about how you word your emails to avoid this being discovered (without lying of course). Recruiters know how to extract this information and this can make or break the negotiation.
How to Present a Counter Offer Email and Say No
Once you have thought hard about the number you will ask for, you'll want to consider how to present that number. Instead of asking for $X because you want more money or because you saw that number online, presenting the number through a competing opportunity or market-based approach is much more effective.
When you receive updated numbers, it might feel tempting to just say yes. Don't be afraid to push back as further negotiations are expected, though keep in mind this does depend on your unique situation. Finally, the wrong way to say no is by simply saying no.
You'll want to say no to offers and updated numbers in a sympathetic way that puts the onus on the recruiter and shows you are still excited about this opportunity.
Speak with the Hiring Manager
If you aren't willing to setup a call to negotiate with the recruiter, at a bare minimum you should setup a hiring manager call to show your interest in the role, learn more about the team, talk about projects, and build rapport.
The goal of this call is to get the hiring manager on your side, not to negotiate numbers. In general, you will want to avoid talking about numbers with the hiring manager, but they often do have a say in comp increases, so building rapport with them is really useful.
Why Negotiating Over Email is Worse
At this point of the process you have already invested a ton of time into getting the offer. The difference at this point between emailing vs. spending a little bit more time on a couple of phone calls is something worth evaluating - even if you hate verbal negotiations.
In our experience, negotiating via a call can change your compensation by more than $100k per year for senior candidates, and after all the work you have done, this is the time to be rewarded for it.
Counterintuitively, it is much easier to mess up negotiations over email. We have people reaching out every day asking how to fix a mistake they made via email. Mistakes made via email are also much harder to reset.
For example, one candidate came to us with an offer from Google. He shared with them over email that he would consider reneging (not recommended) his $450k offer at Amazon if Google could get to $400k. Google used the specific wording in the email to then claim that the Amazon offer "didn't count" as a competing offer since he already accepted it and therefore they could only offer $350k. Google is particularly crazy, but this stuff happens all the time.
In our experience, it is much easier for recruiters to avoid negotiations all-together when done over email. Through trial and error, we have found that negotiating over calls typically results in ~40% better outcomes.
In fact, people frequently reach out to us after failed email negotiations where the company simply refused to negotiate at all - including companies who negotiate with us on a daily basis (e.g. Facebook).
At Rora we totally understand that live calls can be intimidating because of the uncertainty and the demand for nuance. That's why we plan out the strategy and the potential flows of each call way before they actually happen and prepare you with scripts that have the exact verbiage and responses you need, especially when they are pushing back on things like your competing opportunities.
Even then, we know that might not be enough given the uncertainty of how the calls can go. We are here to support you from pre-offer to the day you sign and that includes co-calls where we will there to support you live and guide you via live chat.
Example section of a Rora script. Setup, pushback, and responses are customized for each client's situation.
Want to learn more? Sign up for a call with our negotiation team. We provide company-specific advice for our clients and have negotiated over $300M in salary increases this year.