If You Don’t ask, You Won’t Receive

I had to share this email that I received from a reader. I edited out some profanity and the company name after getting his permission to post this word-for-word. I also put a very good section in bold.

Forgive his grammar errors, I don’t want to edit it to death.

After you read it, I’ll add some comments.


Dumb Little Man is a small fish in a big ocean of blogs but I wanted to tell you that I just accepted a job with [edited - the company is a Fortune 15 company] ABC Inc.. I have been trying to get in there for the last 3 years. What I really wanted to mention was that my interviewing process was almost exactly like your Master of Interviews post. I’ve been a feed subscriber of your for a few months and I originally considered that post as nonsense but it actually happened. I doubt that these people are reading your blog so I have to assume that it’s becoming common to really test interviewees while they are being interviewed.

I joined their global sales team and in order to get the job, I had to write sample sales letters, demo a product I had never heard of and I had to create a presentation and then present to a vice-president. All of this happened without notice so if I couldn’t do it, I was [F word edited] screwed.

Aside from all of that, I have to share something that you may want to share with people. I was able to get some sweet benefits by simply asking for them. After the 3rd interview I knew I had a shot at the job and I actually thought I was the top candidate so when we starting talking about real compensation I just went a little nuts I guess.

Knowing that most positions have a salary ceiling, I took their $84,750 offer and immediately asked for $95K. I knew this was never going to be accepted and in fact I was literally told “no way”. However, that set the bar. I then said OK, well how about 3 weeks of vacation instead of 2? The answer was, “We can do 2.5 weeks of vacation and you’ll still have your sick day allotment”. Hmm, so I just got 3 extra days of vacation by asking a simple question. My next question was can my 250 unrestricted shares of stock (which everyone gets) be moved to 750? I almost died when they came back and said “no, but we can do 500″. So in a matter of minutes, I got extra vacation and I got 250 more shares of stock! That stock is worth like an extra $5K!

Not bad. By the way – no offense intended on the small fish comment.


Well I think it’s pretty apparent what the lesson here is. Sure, you need a job but the company needs to fill the position and many times they don’t show their best hand unless you force it out of them. I’ve personally done this for every single position that I have gone for, however, if you are desperate, I wouldn’t be nearly this aggressive.

Here are the things I ask for and no, not all at the same time. I casually slip some of these into the conversations AFTER getting the job offer.

  • Gotta start with Money: If you think there is room to move, ask for more money but stay within their range. Defining their range is the tough part but what I have repeatedly done is get the high point from HR. If you talk to enough people in HR, you will get enough information to determine what the position’s high and low points are. While I am embarrassed to admit it, I have made calls using fake names just to inquire about the position. The key is to not be obvious and also – do not make a fake call from your home phone number (caller ID). That may be obvious to some, but you never know.
  • No room on salary? If you know their range and you’re being offered the job at the high end, just skip the salary negotiation. The only real exceptions would be if you are the Messiah of the industry or interviewing for an Executive position. The salary ranges were established by multiple people within the HR group and I am sure they have a compensation committee and all that jazz. It is doubtful that the person you are talking to has the power to unilaterally approve more money.
  • Perks and Benefits: This is actually the fun stuff because you never know what will be approved. If the company doesn’t offer these items in the HR package that came with the offer letter or if it hasn’t been covered verbally, here are some things to ask for before you accept the job:

    • More Vacation
    • Stock or more stock
    • Company Car
    • An Office (with a door)
    • Will they pay for your meals when you’re working overtime?
    • Pay for Daycare for the kids? How about a portion?
    • Pay for dry cleaning?
    • Do I at least get a cube with a window?
    • Vendor gifts (this is a company policy and not a perk, but I always want to know. Some vendors give great gifts)
    • Can I use my credit card for travel so I can accumulate points ( I traveled a ton so this was important to me. My plasma TV was free because of this.)
    • Will they pay 100% for your Master’s Degree?
    • Can I work from Home? How about twice a week? How about once?

Before I sum this up, let’s be clear. The work environment itself is probably the largest consideration for me personally. If you are not sold on that, I wouldn’t even get into these other areas. I have said it before I and I will say it again, “I’d rather be happy at work everyday and make $50K as opposed to miserable and make $60K.”

The sum up is this – if you don’t ask, you don’t know. Again, I would clearly not start making demands if you are not totally confident. I usually ask these questions just after getting an offer letter. That’s when you know you’ve beaten the other candidates and they want YOU!



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