Answer these three questions from the employer's perspective:
- Is their (the employer's) first offer the best one they've got or are they testing you to see if you'll accept it right away?
- Would they be open to a relocation package, or respond to increasing your salary if cost of living due to your relocation doesn't add up to an increase in net pay?
- Does the income and benefits offered to you match the market demand for someone with their CPA license?
Analyzing these three questions and doing a little research can quickly give you a better idea about a right number and also gives a platform to stand on when asking for more money. Even if you are quite satisfied with the salary, it doesn't hurt to know if you are getting paid slightly under the average or letting them know (and prove) you are an above average accountant who deserves more.
When it comes down to it, you should counter, and it is a mistake if you don't. For one, it's doubtful the company is going to lay the best deal they are willing to offer up right away. They will leave themselves room to compete in case you get another offer, but won't show their cards right away. Also, it's good to show that you know your worth and expect a salary that reflects your services and skill set.
But, okay, we get it... the part of actually asking for more is pretty difficult. This is why people often accept the first offer, but you can't let yourself go down that route.
The blueprints and language of the counter offerWeigh the market, location, and the specific attributes you are bringing to the table. Do you happen to have experience in a communication field that would supplement your position in the office? Did you serve on a cyber security or technology team in your last job? These are the type of things employers will eagerly offer you more for, but it is up to you to communicate them and ask to be compensated as well.
However, this all has to be done with equal parts confidence and tact. You don't want to come in too hot to appear as arrogant, or asking for too much as to appear greedy. Just like they are probably offering less than your best deal you should be asking for just over what you want, so if they counter again, you'll be satisfied with the amount they offer. The difference is going to be in how you ask for this. If you counter with a matter of fact tone, it could be a bit of a rough start to talks. Instead, try leading with "This really seems like a great opportunity and I would love to join your team. I'm very grateful for your offer. As we talked about, I have expertise in cyber security and technology, and along with my CPA license have seen the market average is a bit over what was initially put on the table. I am just wondering if we could talk more and if you'd be open to a salary closer to...." and from there you've started a conversation rather than demanded a result.
From here you may talk about any budgeting issues, a longer approach to growth with guarantees, and increasing benefits or PTO. Focus on staying calm and not expecting a quick yes or no. They'll likely discuss it and get back to you. As you wait anxiously just be open to whatever they bring to the table and prepare yourself to make a decision based on the different offers they come back to you with after getting all the information.