Asking for What you Want

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

One of my favorite songs and a classic line (one that was even used by a priest in his homily at my local parish).  The sentiment rings true in many of life’s trials, while you may not get what you want, often you get what you need.  So, what do the Stones have to do with your career?


When negotiating anything, you “…can’t always get what you want…(but) you just might find, you get what you need.”  Negotiations in one’s career boils down to asking for what you want while identifying what you need in order to be successful in a particular role.  This holds true in my negotiation experience concerning salary, flex time, start dates, etc. – make the ask and you just might find, you get what you need.

Define Your Desired Outcome: Going into negotiations, one must decide what would be fair and what would be a deal breaker.  For example, if you desire a $100K salary but are willing to take $90K because of the improved commute and work environment, and are willing to walk away for anything less than $85K, you have just defined your desired outcome.  Without an end in mind, it is hard to know where to start.

Research: It is important to negotiate from a position of information rather than emotion.  “I believe I deserve…”, “I think I am worth…”, “I feel I am entitled to…” are statements that are based on feelings rather than fact.  These phrases pale in comparison to statements of fact.  “I understand the average compensation in this industry is…”, “Similar sized firms offer…”, “I am aware of the company’s history of permitting…” are statements that indicate the individual has facts and/or examples to back up the requests (flex time, salary, etc.).

Present Options: My way or the highway is a lousy approach to negotiations.  I recommend presenting multiple options when possible – providing they meet your desired outcome.  Not happy with the starting salary?  Why not propose an earlier-than-normal performance review with the potential for advancement/bonus?  Suggest certain quantifiable goals that you can reach in the coming year that could trigger pay raises.  That way, the company is rewarding you for your performance rather than having to make a large financial commitment up front – and you are still getting your desired outcome.

Options can also work well for flex time negotiations.  Are you willing to work all day M/W/F and from home T/Th? Maybe the boss prefers to see you every day and thus 8:00-1:00 M-F may be easier for the boss to agree to.  Maybe the boss has been burned before by allowing people to work from home, are you willing to take a 20% cut in pay but only work M-Th? By providing options, you can offer your boss options that address his/her concerns.

You can’t always get what you want –  but if you do your research and present options that address your desired outcomes – you just might find, you get what you need.  Who knew Mick and Keith were singing about flex-time negotiations?


About Kevin Monahan

I have 10+ years experience in coaching clients in their career management and career change efforts. Personal career consulting services combined with employer outreach to help find opportunities for both constituents.
This entry was posted in Career Management, Job Search, Negotiations, Salary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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