Can You Lose A Job Offer By Asking For Too Much?

At a recent negotiation workshop I led, one attendee was worried that negotiating too hard would jeopardize a job offer. He wanted a reliable way to tell when you are starting to annoy the employer by asking for too much. Other attendees shared his fear – that questioning a job offer would somehow make it disappear.

You may think that just accepting what you are offered is the best way to go. However, while it’s expedient in the short-term, it could lead to resentment in the long-term if you truly feel underpaid. Or, let’s say that the issue isn’t money but time – e.g., an employer is pressing you for a decision when you still have a final round elsewhere and need more time. Sure, you may acquiesce, drop out of the other process and just join the company that was pressuring you, but it may prevent you from being fully committed and fuel a different kind of resentment.

You have more to lose by not negotiating than by negotiating.

While negotiating may feel uncomfortable right now, stating your case for issues you feel strongly about will feel better in the long run and benefit your long-term career. Future salaries, bonuses and other cash compensation are often calculated off your current base salary. Recognize that whatever you negotiate now (or fail to negotiate) compounds over time. Future titles, future responsibilities and how your manager perceives your value are also impacted by where you start. Negotiating is not just about money – negotiating the appropriate level, role and relationship today has ramifications into the future.

The other person is worried too

You may feel like you’re in the weaker position because it’s just you up against a bigger company. But the other end of your job offer negotiation is also a person – your would-be manager – and they are anxious too. They are hiring because they need the help, and they need it now. They also hired you, so they want you specifically, not necessarily someone else. Remembering that the other side has worries too might help you feel more compassion and less conflict. If the other side seems annoyed, remember that they are under pressure to hire — the annoyance, if there is any, could very well be the need to hire, not about you.

You both agree more than you disagree

Not only do you and your would-be manager share a level of anxiety, but on a more positive note, you both share the hope that you’ll work together, the eagerness to get started on a shared goal and ideally you also get along and genuinely like each other. The job offer is just about money or title or timing or whatever logistics you are negotiating. The bigger picture is that you agree more than you disagree. If you find the negotiation getting heated at all, bring the focus back on this agreement. Thank the other side for being willing to meet and discuss your concerns. Reiterate your excitement about the job – after all, the job is more than just the job offer.

In my 23 years of recruiting, I only saw one job offer rescinded during the negotiation

It was not about asking for more – the candidate had already done that and had increased his offer significantly. However, after the candidate verbally accepted the new, upgraded offer, he restarted the negotiation a few days later by asking for even more. The company no longer trusted the candidate since he had gone back on his initial word. Yes, the company was annoyed but the real issue was integrity, and the disconnect was not about more money but about the broken promise.


Certainly, you don’t want to annoy, anger or otherwise push away your soon-to-be employer. But asking for what you want and deserve doesn’t do that. Replace your worry about annoying the employer with a worry about being undervalued!

Aren’t we all striving to be overpaid for what we do? – Will Ferrell

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