It can seem that salary is to job value what location is to real estate—everything. But, while salary is of course an important factor when you’re considering a job offer, there are other perks to explore as well. Remember that money doesn’t always show itself right away. A better title now, for example, could mean an easier time getting a higher-paying job down the road. Or a gym membership (when used as directed) could save you money on medical care in the years to come.
If you’re interested in taking a new job but not thrilled about the salary that comes with it, peruse this list of other benefits that might help make up for it, then get some ideas about how to negotiate for them.
- Flextime (being able to come and go throughout the day if you have child care duties, for example)
- A shorter work week (35 hours instead of 40, or leaving at 4:00 every Friday)
- More vacation time (paid or unpaid)
- Being able to take vacation time sooner (like after six months instead of a year)
- Working from home, or another remote location, sometimes
- Working from a better location within the employer’s office (such as an office of your own, or a cubicle with a view)
- A newer computer or some sweet software
- If it makes sense for you to get on your domestic partner’s health insurance plan, think about declining that benefit at your new job and asking for something else
Within the job
- A better title
- More, or different, responsibilities
- More money, just not in your salary
- A subsidy or reimbursement for your phone bill, gym membership, transportation costs, child care, or school tuition
- Picking up the tab for professional development—work-related conferences, workshops, classes, or membership in a professional association
Ready to negotiate?
Think about these angles if you want to ask for more perks:
In most cases, the best time to negotiate is after you’ve been formally offered the job, but haven’t yet accepted. At this point, you’re in a good position to bargain because you know they want you. However, don’t get too cocky: you haven’t sealed the deal yet, and coming on too strong now could get your offer yanked.
Do your homework
Research the organization and get a feel for what they’re currently capable of. If their last few annual reports show funding on the decline, you might want to ask for the title upgrade and not the new computer.
Also, it helps to be in the know about economic events and trends nationally and locally (did the NEA just lose a heap of funding? did your city just approve more money for its libraries?).
Only negotiate for things you care about
It might seem obvious, but it can be easy to get caught up in the strategy game of negotiation and the goal of just getting something. To avoid these pitfalls, think about each of your asks individually and why you want it, prior to your meeting. Pick the top few that are most important to you and rank them in priority order, then negotiate for them from the top down.
It’s usually a good opener to say that you’re excited about the prospect of this new job, and have identified some things that would make it even more appealing. In some cases, such as asking for an equipment upgrade, you can make the case that the benefit will help you do your job better. However you choose to frame your asks, strive to sound reasonable and satisfiable, while also emphasizing the skills you bring and problems you can help solve. The potential new hire who comes to the table with ultimatums and an infinite list of requests won’t stay in anyone’s good graces.
Anything could happen when you make your case: The employer could grant you everything you asked for, none of it, or say, “Let’s talk about this again in six months.” Whatever the exchange is like, chances are the ball will be back in your court once it’s over, so here comes the $100,000 (give or take) question: Do you feel good enough about the combined salary and benefits package now to take the job?
Have you negotiated for better benefits as a prerequisite for taking a job? Tell us what happened in the comments.