Your New Job Negotiation Should Go Way Beyond Salary

on April 30, 2015


How to Make the Most of Your Job Offer

In his recent SmartyCents post, The Beginner's Guide to Salary Negotiation, Lou Carlozo offered up helpful tips for leveraging a higher salary from your employer. However, whether you're interviewing for a new job, receiving your annual review or getting a promotion, salary negotiation is only one part of your potential gain from opening up negotiations.

While you probably won't be able to negotiate the country club memberships, company car, stock shares and other perks that top executives command, you certainly can improve your situation by thousands of dollars in salary and benefits if you know what to ask for. Understanding the many other forms of benefits and compensation that are up for negotiation can help you boost your career, decrease your expenses-and substantially increase your bottom line.


Know your situation.

If you're taking a job with a new company, use your network to find out as much as you can about the company's benefits and compensation practices. Visit websites such as to find employee reviews and compensation levels at a particular company. If you are up for your annual review or a promotion at your current company, discreetly research how the company is doing to determine if sales are good or if the company is trying to cut costs.

If you know your company is struggling and you are probably not going to get a bonus or raise, you can preemptively make an offer that makes you look like a team player. Offer to forgo a raise in exchange for a number of benefits that cost the company nothing, or a few low-cost benefits that won't bust your boss's budget, examples of which are listed in the following slides.


Job Title

Larger corporations, government agencies, academic institutions and other employers might be restricted as to what title they can offer you. However, most companies have flexibility to offer you a title that can help raise your stature in your profession and boost your career in the future. In some cases, employers just don't know the correct titles in your area. For example, many businesses hiring writers and editors don't know the difference between a managing editor, editor-in-chief or senior editor. The difference between a coordinator and manager title can also send a very different message about your position.


Work Tools

Make sure you have the tools you need to succeed at your job. In some cases, your employer simply doesn't know what your position requires for you to work at the best of your ability, and the company will be more than happy to provide what you need. This can include computer equipment, software, books or manuals.


Training and Education

The more knowledgeable, educated and trained you are, the better you can perform for your employer. You might be able to negotiate a tuition reimbursement for a class you take from a local community college. Ask if the company will pay for workshops, seminar or certification training. This can include the cost of registration, travel, lodging, parking and meals. If you're going to a seminar whether or not your company pays for it, you might still get some help with your expenses; tell the company you'll pick up your own travel costs if they pay for the course registration. In many cases, you will have to sign an agreement that you will reimburse the company if you leave less than one year after the company pays for your training or tuition.


Dues and Subscriptions

If you are a member of a professional association or society, ask if the company will pay your annual dues. Enquire as to whether the company would be willing to pay for subscriptions to professional magazines or research journals-tell your employer you'll bring the publications to work for other employees to read.


Relocation Expense Reimbursement

Companies offer top executives tens of thousands of dollars in relocation reimbursements and might be willing to extend some of those expense-reductions to you. These can include: truck rental, gas, meals while you're on the road, connection fees at your new home, deposits, lodging and even airfare. If you have any penalties for terminating your lease or other contracts early, tell your employer you can start earlier if the company helps defray those costs.


Flex Time / Telecommuting

If you are taking a job in an area with traffic problems (or if you live exceptionally far from the office), ask about a flexible schedule, such as arriving an hour earlier and leaving an hour later each day. You might negotiate working from home one day per week, or more often. Let your company know that you will be more likely to work some evening and weekend hours if you can work from home. The company may even b willing to pay for your Internet connection and some office equipment, including a laptop.


More Paid Time Off

If you sense a company really wants you but can't afford to pay you what other companies are offering in the marketplace, ask for extra paid time off. This doesn't cost the company any more in out-of-pocket expenses and gives you more time to vacation or pursue freelance opportunities.


Parking and Commuter Passes

If you expect to incur parking or commuting expenses, ask whether the company will pay for your monthly parking pass or a commuter rail/bus pass.


Gym Membership

If your company doesn't have a wellness program or on-site fitness facility, ask about a membership to a gym or fitness center. Let the company know that you want to reduce your risk for high blood pressure, fatigue, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, back pain, stress, osteoporosis, lower back problems and other health and wellness issues that reduce employee productivity and increase employer health care costs.


Other Standard Benefits

Ask about any vision, dental, life, pet health and auto insurance your company might offer. Health insurance benefits can include disability, accident, cancer, supplemental health and different plans for paying for health care expenses. Many companies are even willing to pay for smoking-cessation programs on a per-employee basis. Employers are legally restricted as to how and to whom they can offer benefits (meaning they have to generally offer them to all employees equally), so don't try to negotiate a higher 401(k) match, better health insurance co-pay or a lower insurance deductible.


Job Description

While a job description and reviews technically don't qualify as compensation, they are things you should definitely build into your contract. Write your own job description if you feel the job ad to which you responded wasn't clear enough. Instead of trying to reduce your workload, make your job description look as if you want a position of responsibility. The goal of your job description should be to eliminate any miscommunications that can result in your receiving a poor review or losing out on a promotion. Ask for a 30-day review after you start a new job-or a 90-day review at the latest-and annual reviews after that.


Flip the Table

When negotiating benefits, try to convince an employer that it's in the company's best interest to give you what you're seeking. For example, don't tell a potential employer that you want a manager title because it's good for your career (i.e. It will help you when you're looking for your next job). Tell the interviewer it will help you get more respect from customers, subordinates, clients, vendors and suppliers. For example, a gym membership, smoking-cessation program or equipment you can use at home can improve your productivity-and may not cost your employer anything extra out of pocket.

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been a small-business consultant and owner for more than 25 years. He has written for a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and websites, including Entrepreneur, The Chicago Tribune, Chron Small Business, AZ Central Your Business, TheNest, Zacks, Motley Fool, Synonym Money, GlobalPost and Opposing Views.

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