Negotiating: Why you can only win when you ask for money

If you have a job offer in hand, and you’re in negotiation stages of what the offer will be, it is fairly safe to say “you have it in the bag”. Now whether or not you let it out of the bag by screwing up the offer is a whole other story.

The point you should keep in mind, if you are offered a job is:

They want you.

You want to work there.

Now you have to agree on a price.

This is how a simple question of asking for more money should go:

Them: We’d like to offer you $35,000 as a salary.

[You’ve done your research, and it’s really a $40,000 – $45,000 job and $35,000 is on the low end but still acceptable]

You: $35,000 is a good offer, but based on my research for my job experience and knowledge, the job is worth $45,000.

Them: Well $45,000 is a bit high for your experience…. *trails off*………….

[OPTIONAL as in this rarely happens:

Silence may or may not ensue. You just sit tight, shut up and wait for them to finish their sentence.

Don’t try and fill the uncomfortable silence by saying: Well okay, I’ll take it.

Whoever blinks first, loses.

The more uncomfortable part might be if more barbed remarks might be thrown at you about your age, and your lack of industry knowledge, yadda yadda, to

which you can bring up more research information if you want]

Now what usually what happens is either they say “No” because they’re really offering you the best (NOT LIKELY) or they negotiate back:

Them: …………but we can offer you $40,000.

You: DEAL!!!




(Okay so that last part you should probably omit.

Say something boring and professional along the lines of: Sounds fair, I accept. I am looking forward to working with your company!)

And that’s usually how negotiations go.


From my own personal experience, I did something just like the above. I sat there, waited for a better offer, and they came back with 30% higher.

Why? Because they wanted me.

I knew I had experience for the job that none of the other candidates had, and they could see I was really passionate about this line of work even if my grades weren’t amazing.

Everyone else who didn’t ask, started at 30% below what they should have, and to this day, they are still trying to catch up to my original starting rate with their small salary raises every 3 years. (I keep in touch).

Keep in mind that I was also getting the same raises at the same time they were.

Think of it asΒ negotiatingΒ for one of the biggest raises you’ll probably ever get in your career at that company.

This move may not work for every company, as noted in the comments below, but it never hurts to ask unless the culture of the industry or company is such that you shut up and take whatever’s given to you.

Does that sound intimidating?

It shouldn’t.

It’s a fact of negotiations as it is a fact in life: Nothing is ever going to happen if you never ask for what you want and if you don’t do anything about it.

If you have the offer pretty much in hand (they are probably not going to be thrilled about having to bring up the pile of people they’ve interviewed and re-sift and re-order them again by level of competency), and it’s just a question of money.

Negotiation is much harder for rates than it is for salary, because every hour = more moola for them in their pockets versus what you end up with at the end of their cut.

Besides, if they really hold firm at $35,000 you have 2 options:

  1. Take the job
  2. Walk away

OPTION ONE: Take the job if you really need it

Assume that they are NOT bluffing about the $35,000 and being hardasses, and take the job.

You do not want to be kicking yourself in the butt (how does that work, anyway?) while eating ramen or Kraft dinner out of a clean (I hope!) dog bowl, commiserating with other unemployees on a couch about the job you almost had.

OPTION TWO: Walk away if you’re able to

Walk away if you know you can find something better / Don’t need the job.

Sometimes it’s a bluff. Usually when it comes to rate negotiations, it’s a bluff, especially when it’s just $5 – $20 in the rate. If we’re talking like a 50% reduction from $100 down to $50, there is no in between and you can probably get them up to $75, but it will never meet your minimum requirement.

If you don’t need the money immediately (as in, you can hold out for 6 months more) and you think the market is just starting to heat up, then perhaps there is a better job offer out there for you.

CAUTION: Just don’t be too starry-eyed about this option, without knowing the hard facts of what you’re saying “No” to.

Don’t forget this guy Scott from the NY times who just graduated, still lives with his parents and turned down a perfectly acceptable job offer at $40,000 a year just because it wasn’t a managerial grooming position being offered to his privileged ass right off the bat.

Over the last five months, only one job materialized.

After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year.

But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

To which I say: Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.

So practice being more confident in fake negotiations with a family member or a friend, practice, practice, practice and don’t fold under pressure.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.