How to Ask For More Money Without Thowing Someone in a Rage in the Offer Process…

Kris Dunn Kris Dunn, Making Offers

TRUE STORY: The editor of this blog doesn’t think it fits the FOT vibe when I write from the candidate’s perspective.  I actually agree with her on that point most of the time…

REALITY: I’m the crazy founder who still has total access, so I’m taking the chance that JLee may get a court injunction against me and revoke access by sharing the following story from my cell phone yesterday.

Here’s the story. Friend of KD calls around noon.  Good news, she’s found the perfect gig and will soon be leaving her current employer.  The Challenge: The offer was for about 10K less than she wanted to make the move.

I, perhaps like you, get the questions like this one from friends all the time.  The question here is pretty simple – “KD, what can I do to get the offer up without making them angry and losing the job I want?”

Of course, qualifying questions are necessary to give the right advice in this case.  Here’s what I found out as I questioned her.  The whole process was handled by the hiring manager until the offer, which was handled by HR (never let HR make offers people, it ruins credibility.  Make your hiring managers make the offer.  Be on a silent line with them, whatever you need to do to help them grow).  HR calls and makes the offer and proceeds to tell Janet that the number is capped and that’s as high as they can go.  Earlier in the process, Janet gave the hiring manager the number she needed and the hiring manager indicated that number wouldn’t be a problem.  The job is in the 100K range.

So far, so good, from the candidate’s perspective.  The person making the offer wasn’t involved in the manager saying “no problem”.  No one on the employer’s side tried to leverage Janet on money early in the process.

Advantage Janet.

Here’s what I told her she needed to do:

1. Call back and intro in an assumptive close kind of way, “I’m looking forward to joining the team” (let’s them know you want to join, doesn’t make the negotiation hardcore).

2. Thank them for the offer, then contrast the offer with your current situation to explain the gap (which reminds them a strong option is to stay in your current position).  Wordtrack: “Here’s where I’m at with the offer.  When Bob and I talked in the process, I told him I was at 110K, and he told me that wouldn’t be a problem.  I like the opportunity with you a lot, but in order to make a move I need to earn where I’m at now.  Can you get me to the point where I don’t have to take a step backward?

3. Don’t talk after that.  Put the pressure on them to respond and even if they can’t fix it on the spot, let them tell you they’ll look into it.

If the answer is no, you still have the Bob angle to go towards.  Lots of details and forks in the road here based on what happens next, but the general keys are this.

1. You have to ask,

2. You have to ask in a way that doesn’t make you seem like a cold-blooded jerk (make them want to help you),

3. You have to have some logic regarding why you want more.  Just wanting more isn’t enough.  Everyone wants more.?

4. Some unspoken leverage is nice.  Can you stay in your job?  That’s enough…

If you’re currently negotiating with me or negotiate with me in the future, don’t use these word tracks.  I’ve got the ninja antidote to these word tracks, and chances are we had this conversation in a lot more detail a long time before the offer stage.  I offer this to my friends as a friend.  I consider you one of those. If you’re a talent pro, hit me in the comments with what I did wrong or missed…

Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.