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You can’t hear “Yes!” unless you ask

Allow me to share with you one of the maxims I try to live by. Ready? It’s:

You can’t hear “yes” unless you ask.

I learned this as an adult. I have a friend who walks into a place with the confidence of one who belongs there, whether or not she actually does. She will always ask a vendor if they can offer a better price, a restaurant hostess if she can have a specific table, or a hotel desk clerk whether they can offer her a room with a view. Oftentimes, she gets upgraded or bumped up on a list or is extended a discount, simply because she asked.

You can't hear "Yes!" unless you ask. #HRMeg Click To Tweet

Here are two ways this mindset can benefit your job search.

Don’t rule yourself out: Apply.

Have you ever read a job posting that lists a specific number of years of experience, and you decide not to apply because you have less than requested? Or perhaps you don’t apply because, although you have substantial relevant work experience, you don’t have the required degree, and they’ll probably just say no?

Apply for the job! Don’t pre-emptively rule yourself out. The worst you can hear is "no." But you might hear, "Yes!" Click To Tweet

To this, I say, throw your hat in the ring anyway. Apply! Make the employer come up with a reason you’re not qualified. But in submitting your resume, you open the possibility that they might see something in your background that makes them want to talk with you. That can’t happen if you don’t submit your application. 

The worst outcome is that they don’t call you; the best outcome is that they do. So just do it. Who knows – you might hear “Yes!”

Hats thrown in a hockey rink after a hat trick. Illustrates the phrase, "throw your hat into the ring."
Hats have been thrown in a ring. OK, a rink. for a hat trick. Get it? Photo from the Guardian.

Negotiate your job offer

Another way the “just ask” mindset benefits your job search is – obviously – in the offer negotiation. Once you have received a verbal offer, you are in the best position to negotiate.

The employer wants to fill this position, and they want you to take it. They’ve determined you’re a good fit for their team and are betting you can manage the work requirements. You have nothing to lose by saying:

“I’m so excited to join your team and can’t wait to get started. I would be even more excited if you would consider increasing the starting salary by (or to) $X, and am prepared to sign an offer letter the minute you let me know.”

Starting salary isn’t the only thing you can negotiate. Other points include bonuses, first salary increase date after hire, work schedule, subsidized parking/commuting costs, or paid time off. Of course, some things, like employee benefits and retirement plan contributions, are governed by plan documents and rules that pre-empt any such flexibility. But there really are a number of areas you can discuss.

The worst case is that the employer says, “This is our best offer, and we hope you’ll accept it.” But that’s still not bad! The best case is they might come back with something better than they offered originally, because they want you to feel great about your decision to join their team. So, why not ask? You might hear, “Yes!”

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have nothing to lose. Sure, you might hear no. But you for sure won’t hear “Yes!” unless you ask.

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