Whether you’re accepting a job at a new company or getting your annual review, the compensation package you’re offered isn’t always a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. In fact, you might be surprised with how easy it is to negotiate a few extra job benefits that can help your career — if not your bank account.
Understanding how compensation and benefits works, doing a little research and negotiating for specific job benefits can help you improve your situation without creating hard feelings with a new or current employer.
You’re more likely to get extra benefits at a smaller company than a big one. That’s because: a) federal law requires companies to offer the same job benefits to most employees; and b) large companies have policies and systems in place they can’t change. When it comes to offering equal benefits, for example, companies can’t offer executives an 8 percent 401(k) match and regular employees only a 6 percent match.
When it comes to internal policies, many companies have strict guidelines regarding job titles, so you couldn’t request a different job title than the one that’s offered. At smaller companies, however, hiring people isn’t always up-to-date on your area of expertise and might welcome some suggestions for benefits that will help you do your job better.
Think Career, Not Wallet
Several of the job benefits you can negotiate with an employer have nothing to do with salary, wages, bonuses or commissions, but can be even more valuable. For example, your job title says a lot about you. If you work in IT, are you an application developer, application support analyst, applications engineer, associate developer or cloud architect? If you work in finance, are you a CFO, controller or treasurer?
Many small companies don’t understand the nuances of every job title in a department. Ask for the job title that most closely fits your position, if the one that’s being suggested isn’t correct. This may not be a big deal while you work there, but it can help you land better gigs when you’re ready to move on. The right title can also help you land speaking opportunities or an invitation to serve on a trade association or professional society committee or board.
Improve Your Skills
Another way to climb the corporate ladder is to expand your hard and soft business skills. One way to do that is to get your employer to pay for it. Many companies have, or will consider, tuition reimbursement if you take classes that will help you do your job better. You will most likely have to agree to reimburse the company for the tuition if you leave less than a year after you receive the reimbursement.
You should also ask about the opportunity to attend training workshops or seminars. If you’re planning on going to some industry events anyway, tell the company you’ll pay for your travel expenses if they pay for the registration fees.
Restructure Your Office Situation
Will you best serve your company by coming in from 9-to-5 each day? The employees who work some, or all, of their hours remotely often put in extra hours after dinner and on the weekends, since they don’t have to drive into the office. See if your employer is open to full- or part-time telecommuting. If traffic is tough in your area, ask about flexible hours so you can avoid rush hours. A smaller company that really wants you, but can’t afford a big salary bump, might offer you free parking or help pay for your public transit pass.
Know Your Relocation Costs
If you’ll be moving for a new job, write a list of your expenses to do so. If you can show your employer a list of your actual costs, they might increase what they’re offering. Legitimate relocation costs include:
- Early Termination fees (Cable, Internet, Child Care)
- Cleaning Fees
- Moving Van
- Packing Boxes/Tape/Dolly/Blankets
- Connection Fees (Cable, Internet, Phone, Utilities)
- Apartment Finder Fee
- House Sale/Purchase Closing Costs and Fees
- Vehicle Registration/Driver’s License
Never Be Afraid To Ask About Job Benefits
If you present most of your requests in the context of how they will help your employer, there’s no downside to negotiating for extra job benefits. The key to getting those extras is researching and preparing your pitches well before any meeting or interview, so be sure to do your homework!
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