Should I Negotiate Even Though I'm Broke?

by Staff - Original publish date: January 16, 2012

Maybe you're in the process of interviewing for a new job and it's time to talk salary. Or perhaps you've been in your current position for years and you're finally going to ask for a raise. The only problem is, most people have no idea how to properly negotiate. How do you bring it up? What do you say? When is the right time to ask? People routinely scour the Internet and buy negotiating books to find these very answers.

Well, your search is over.

Career coach and author Jack Chapman, who wrote "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute," is teaming up with to offer a weekly Q & A on all things related to salary negotiation.

Using real questions sent in by actual readers, Jack will help you navigate the choppy waters of interviewing for a job, negotiating a salary and asking for a raise or promotion. Remember all those times you desperately wished you had someone to help you answer all the tough questions that invariably surface around negotiations? Now Jack has your back and he's providing easy to implement, real-life solutions to your salary negotiation dilemmas.

Now, onto this week's question!

I have a third interview pending and I am hoping for an offer. But here is my situation: I am broke. Flat broke.
I hate taking a low-ball offer but I don't want to ask for more and then lose a job that will pay me something. I have been out of work for a year. What options am I looking at?

First of all congratulations on being broke. It happened to Donald Trump and to almost every millionaire you can think of. At one time or other they were broke and busted too. But they did not give up negotiating and went on to earn much success. The same could happen to you.

First of all there's the question of how to negotiate. Let's consider the two extremes. The first is "I'll take it as is." The other extreme is "meet my number or I'll walk away."

A point just past "I'll take it!" gives you 99% confidence you won't lose the offer and---surprisingly---still leaves you room to ask for more. So my suggestion is to say something along these lines:

"I must be frank with you. This job is important to me and if the offer you just gave me were the best you could do, I would accept it with no questions asked. However, I would like to discuss it in a bit more detail, provided you're comfortable with that. So, just to be sure, I'm not jeopardizing this offer by discussing it am I?"

Now you've politely locked them down and chances are they will have no problems with this. At that point, you follow up with:

"So, I can be sure then, that the offer as it stands is a firm one? Because I'd like to share my perspective and research on the base and bonus."

Success in all your endeavors,

Jack Chapman is a Career and Salary Coach, and author of "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute." For more negotiating advice go to or e-mail