I negotiated and lost the offer

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“I negotiated my job offer and it got pulled” was the title of a blog post I read this morning. It cited the stories of two candidates who had received offers they thought were low but when the candidates asked for more money, the offer was rescinded. Although the recounting of the stories are second-hand, several things stood out about the scenarios.

In the first account, the candidate asked for more than the they were willing to offer and then went on to describe at least two more phone calls in which they tried to negotiate the salary up. Shortly thereafter, the HR person said the candidate “offended her and wasn’t a team player” and that they were moving on to another candidate. This seems like a case of “enough is enough” to me and the candidate should have picked up on the subtext and tone of the conversations far before it came to this. While it was good to ask once, and possibly counter, again, the offer process for a job isn’t a stand-in for the negotiation you would do at Crazy Eddie’s used-car lot. If the offer is fair and in the ball-park of the going rate, let it go. I’ve seen this “persistence” first-hand as a hiring manager. You’ve revealed an important piece of information about your work style and all you are really doing is exhausting me and proving that you will be a problem to manage once you’re working for me. The candidate closed their accounting of the situation with the comment “I read a lot about offers and they all say ‘negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.'” That was a wrong interpretation. It meant “negotiate”–once. Don’t just accept the first offer, but the repetition of the word? That part was just for written emphasis.

In the second account, the candidate asked for a 10% increase of the salary that was offered and justified that since they would need to move cross country. If the offer was already at or above market rate, asking for a perpetual salary increase to cover a one time cash outlay was a bad move. However, I find it difficult to believe that an employer wouldn’t hear a request for more money, and if that wasn’t in the cards, explain that the offer was “the offer” and the candidate could take or leave it. I think there is a lot more to what happened here than was disclosed.

You should always “negotiate”. The author of the blog that kicked off this post says you shouldn’t. I disagree. I see the point she is making, but I disagree. And, I say that as someone who has not always done negotiated (for specifically the reasons she cites!). Early in my career I had offers I felt were fair and generous and I graciously just accepted. But, as a good friend pointed out, what would have happened if I had asked for more? What if I had said, 9 bananas sound great, but I’d really prefer 10 (pro-tip #1 here, it’s always better to have a tighter reason than just “I’d prefer…”). They might have said “no”. They have 9 bananas. And pro-tip #2, that’s where you stop. But they might have said “yes”. And I would have had 10 bananas. And my next raise would have been on top of 10 bananas. All for the very low price of asking for it.

The folks claiming they lost the offer over the ask? Depending on how you look at it, it could be said that “negotiating” was the cause. But really, I think it was the “how” it was done, rather than that it was done at all.

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