How to negotiate a job offer?


Aug 13, 2009
Yesterday I was quite happy to be offered a job with an Argentinean company. It will be a great opportunity for me, but I would like to negotiate the salary (and potentially the offered vacation days, too). However, I do not know what is considered a "normal" salary and benefits for a US expat worker in Capital Federal who's employed by an Argentinean company (en blanco, they're going to get me a work visa), and I'm not sure how much above the initial offer I should ask for. (I'm tempted to ask for 33-50% higher than what they offered, but I'm afraid that may be too much. Right now, the salary is "OK" - right about middle of the road or perhaps a little on the low side.)

I'd love to hear about your experiences negotiating salary (or those you've heard about) especially in terms of whether there's any unique arguments I can bring to the table to justify a higher salary. I'm also quite interested to learn about the expectations/etiquette in situations like this, and if/how it's different than compensation negotiations in the US.

Thanks in advance!
A lot depends on how unique your talents and experience are. There are a lot more expats looking for work in Buenos Aires than there are firms looking for expats.

Unless you have something "special" to contribute to the firm, 20% more sounds reasonable, perhaps even 30%. It also depends on how much you need the job, and how ready you are to lose it.

Asking for too high a salary might make the firm see you as an arrogant foreigner: "That salary may be all right for Argentinians, but it is not good enough for ME!" The offer might be withdrawn. There's a stockmarket mantra that says that bulls get something, and bears get something, but pigs get nothing.

Best of luck,

I think I would ask them to include accomodation in the offer... (unfurnished/ or furnished)...

A furnished studio I believe can cost you (as a foreigner without a warranty) us$600-780 a month, a one bedroom U$800-1000, a two bedroom uS$ 1100-1500, etc..

A company can be a guarantor.

good luck,
I would say it really depends what industry you are in and the relative competition for jobs in your sector....

I had my first real job offer with an Argentine firm get withdrawn because I negotiated with them for a higher salary and they got angry about it and demanded that I answer their counter offer immediately and I asked to call them back in 15 minutes. Once I called them back to accept the offer they told me that the position had been filled and they couldn´t keep "waiting around for me"... it was a bizarre experience.

however, i would say that it´s best to not ask for too much right away, a small bump in salary ok but you can always ask for more after you get through the first 3 months of "prueba"/trial period. Perhaps you could accept the salary but request a salary re-evaluation after 3 months.

Also, it´s hard to find companies that will get you a work visa -- you should figure in the legal costs that you are avoiding and the big benefit it will be to have a DNI and bank account that you can take on to your next job if this doesnt work out.

Thanks for the input so far, guys.

I guess I'm trying to balance a few desires: to not ask for too much, to have enough $$/vacation time to visit my family a couple times a year, and to try to earn enough to match my current cost of living. (I've been here 4 months, I live modestly, share an apartment with two other expats, and my rent is low-to-moderate relative to other temporary/expat rental options. I just moved recently and I'd strongly prefer to not move again, if I can avoid it.)

There are lots of good things about this company, the opportunity, and the visa and I value those things. I'd still love to hear more about experiences negotiating salary in this country...etiquette with regards to my counter offer, such as I should ask for only up to a certain percentage more than the offer? And vacation days - unreasonable to negotiate those?

FWIW this place seems reasonable and comfortable with talking things through, so if I present my concerns and thoughts rationally, I think we will have a discussion about it. (And they won't just say, "No, goodbye.") But I want to walk into that situation with as much knowledge as I can, and this is new territory for me. Thanks again!
Vacation days are normally imposed by the union to which you will belong (pretty much whether you like it or not). You can always ask for more, but I don't think it is common to negotiate those...
hepdoll said:
Thanks for the input so far, guys.

I guess I'm trying to balance a few desires: to not ask for too much, to have enough $$/vacation time to visit my family a couple times a year, and to try to earn enough to match my current cost of living.

Sorry, but you are being unrealistic -- how many Argentines do you know that fly to the States or Europe twice a year for visits? On a local salary, especially your first job here, you cannot hope to do that. If you can do it once a year, you should be thrilled.

hepdoll said:
And vacation days - unreasonable to negotiate those?

Vacation days are set by federal law here. 2 weeks up until 5 years with the same company, then increased to 3 weeks. And unlike the States or elsewhere, you're vacations start on a monday and finish on a friday. If there is a federal holiday during the time that you take a vacation, too effing bad for you, those days are still discounted from your holidays!!! Ridiculous! So there's no extending of holidays here, ie take Mon-weds off before Semana Santa so you only use 3 holiday days, nope they'd say you took 5 even though Thurs and Friday are stats.

Crazy! If your company is as flexible as you say, then yes you could try to negotiate, but honestly I don't think in Argentina I'd do it off the bat, ask some questions about it in the negotiation process, how many days do you get, are you able to take a couple of days here and there, or do you have to take your 2 weeks all at once and at a specific time of year (which is what most make you do, hence everyone on holiday sometime between January and end of March). If it sounds like they are more flexible than above, maybe you could ry and negotiate for a third week, but considering no one else gets a third week until 5 years with the company, it may not look good. You can try for a third week of unpaid vacation, still it won't look good around the office that the new kid has 3 weeks while the others that have been toiling for 4 years are still stuck on 2.

Oh, and if you change companies, unfortunately even if you've been there for 5 years and you go on to another company, you get knocked back to 2 weeks. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks.

Always worth negotiating, but ask vague questions first before you ante up with a request for 3 weeks. It's really considered a privilege for those that commit to the company for a long time.
Ultimately, it really does depend on what you're bringing to the table.

Obviously a priority for you is the ability to go visit your family in Europe and have the time to do so. Be clear that this is your priority. To accomplish this, I would note that the salary is a little low however don't be too aggressive with the actual number just yet - you haven't proven yourself and the value you bring. (unless let's say you are in a very specific role and your stats are your selling point) In terms of vacation, ask for another week - just note that x many weeks is standard where you are from and while you understand it's not custom here, you would like 3. If they flat out refuse, remain open - say, ok as you know this is about being able to see my family - am I able to bank my hours (to an acceptable maximum) to accomplish this ? OR - alternately - work remotely from home for one week etc.

The vacation is a bit of a long shot but it's certainly worth asking. If their interest is to retain you as an employee, they will have to realize that there are certain accommodations they will have to make. Yes there are lots of expats around - but there are also lots of expats who leave. If the company wants to avoid the hassle and expense of losing employees simply bc they want to go home or make a bit more money, then measured accommodations will need to be made. Not every company will think that way but not all of them won't, either.
You are already here? Sorry then please disregard the my "add the accomodation to the table" comment.

I know Argentines who have negotiated 4 weeks vacation from the 1st year they work there, but mostly at Managerial positions....

Anyway by law it is possible to take unpaid leave:
If they dont budge you can ask for an extra week or so of unpaid leave and not loose your job..
Oh, and if you change companies, unfortunately even if you've been there for 5 years and you go on to another company, you get knocked back to 2 weeks. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks.

Those inmigrants, always complaining for having to work! If they were as hardworking as us! :p

Already in my first year after graduation (engineer) I was able to get more than the 2 sucking holiday weeks. Oficially I only had the two weeks though...but I would tell my boss I wanted to travel to x and he would agree in giving me one week more...sometimes even a few more days at other times of the year. I would definitevely talk about that during the interview...that you would like to travel to the US to visit your family once a year and that two weeks would be too short for such a trip...and see how they react.
Once you have a few year's experience you can negotiate your holidays. Specially if you don't have one of those union's contracts.

Good luck!