More than a whole year in, the Great Resignation rages on — there are currently a record five million more job openings in the US than unemployed people. Translation: It’s an employee’s market, y’all. Employers are desperate to fill and retain roles, so job seekers and workers have more negotiating power than ever.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about negotiating is probably salary — and heck yes, ask 👏 for 👏 more 👏. But sometimes a manager’s hands really are tied when it comes to the max salary budget. Or perhaps even more often, salary might not be the most important thing (or the only important thing) you’re looking for. Good news in both of those cases: Salary is only one part of your compensation and benefits package, and it’s not the only thing you can (or should) negotiate.
Here are 12 things — other than salary — that you can negotiate from a new or current employer.
Bonus or commission structure: The better you do, the better the company does! If you’re in a role that’s tied directly to revenue (or another clearly trackable, important metric), consider negotiating for a performance bonus or commission structure (or, if they offered you one already, ask for a bigger one).
Signing bonus: A signing bonus is a one-time payment you’d get either when you sign to accept your job offer or right after starting your new role. Because it wouldn’t represent an annual expense, they might have more flexibility for a signing bonus in the budget.
Job title: While job titles aren’t everything, they definitely still carry weight — especially when you consider your career progression over the long term. A better job title now will help you land an even better job title (and, presumably, a higher salary) next time you’re looking.
Advanced promotion timeline: Maybe there isn’t enough budget for you to join a company at the salary level you want, or it’s really just not the right time for the promotion you just asked for. Ask them to commit to an agreed-upon timeline for that next promotion, assuming you hit certain (also agreed-upon) performance metrics.
Remote (or partially remote) work: The pandemic changed the way we think about in-person offices forever, and people who don’t want to work in an office anymore (or at least, not every day) have options. And employers know it. If the ability to work from home is important to you, negotiate it.
Flexible work schedule: Maybe nine to five doesn’t work for you — you’re an early bird, or a night owl, or you’ve got kids who need to be picked up from school at 3:30. Maybe you’d rather work four 10-hour days than five 8-hour days. No matter what works best for you, your schedule is also something you can negotiate.
Paid time off, including vacation and sick leave: This one’s pretty self-explanatory — you deserve rest. Get as much of it as you can (and get paid for it!).
Professional development funds: Maybe there’s a course you’ve always wanted to take, job-related books you’ve always wanted to read, or conferences you’ve always wanted to attend. The better you get at your job, the better it is for your company! You can negotiate for a professional development budget on the company’s dime.
Certifications: Certifications can be expensive, but they increase both your value to your employer and your overall value as a professional in your field. If there’s a certification related to your role that you want to earn, see if your company will foot the bill.
Tuition or tuition reimbursement: Same goes here — advanced degrees (or even just extra classes) in your field help you and your employer. See if you can negotiate the cost of those classes into your benefits package.
Commuter benefits: If your employer requires you to come into the office and you need to drive, pay to park, take a train, or pay other out-of-pocket costs to get to work, see if they’ll help cover them. Some employers also offer tax-advantaged commuter benefits — ask about those, too.
Equity, including stock options: Not every company gives its employees equity, but it can be a potentially super valuable form of compensation (and one that usually costs your employer nothing up front). If they offer you equity, you can negotiate for more.
Last piece of advice: If you come to agreement on any of the things above, get. It. In. Writing. Trust us. It might feel a little awkward to ask, if they don’t offer — but a little bit of discomfort now will turn out to be more than worth it later.
There are so many valuable parts to a benefits package beyond your salary. Deciding ahead of time what’s most important to you — which of these things will make you feel most valued and fulfilled — is a key step in the negotiation process. That way, you’ll be able to come to the table prepared to make tradeoffs and find a solution that works for everyone (or walk away with confidence).
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