The last time you got hired, how did you negotiate? Well, if you’re like 41% of Americans, you didn’t negotiate at all. The truth is, your hiring manager expects you to negotiate; even if there isn’t a lot of extra money available, negotiation is a standard part of the hiring process and one that shows your new employer that you understand how the working world works.
This means that yes, by failing to negotiate at your current job means you probably left a few thousand dollars in salary on the table. It also means you probably left behind a few other choice benefits, such as extra vacation days. Negotiation, after all, isn’t just about salary; it’s about the entire compensation package. It is your job as a new hire to make sure you get the best possible package for yourself and any potential family members or loved ones.
So, the next time you prepare to negotiate a job offer, remember to negotiate these key items in addition to your salary:
After your salary, your insurance is the next biggest component in your benefits package. After all, a good portfolio of health and life insurance makes the difference between paying out of pocket for medical treatments and end-of-life care vs. having your expenses covered for you. “Negotiating your salary is important, but so is making sure you get a good health plan,” says Jon Fritz of SimplifiedIssueLifeInsurance.com. If you don’t like the deductible on the health plan your company is offering, or if you want life insurance included in your package, you have to negotiate.
Believe it or not, it is possible to get more vacation days just by asking for them. This is a common negotiation tactic for new hires who don’t have a lot of room to negotiate salary. If your new employer tells you that there’s a salary freeze right now, or that he/she knows that you are being paid lower than the industry standard, it’s time to start negotiating vacation. A few extra vacation days a year don’t cost the company anything, especially as you’re likely to check in and contribute to projects while on vacation anyway.
Most employers understand that workers can complete as much — if not more — work telecommuting than they can in the office. There are numerous benefits to telecommuting, from increased productivity to decreased emissions (no commute!). If you want to telecommute one or two days a week, or if you want to come into the office early and leave before rush hour begins, you need to negotiate these face time requirements with your employer. Most employers are primarily concerned that you A) complete your work and B) are available when your team needs you. You will need to prove that you will be successful in both areas as you negotiate your telecommuting arrangement.
The Six-Month Review
Let’s say that your hiring manager appreciates your capacity to negotiate but is unwilling to give anything in the negotiation. This is not always the sign of a bad company; it may just be that there is no extra money in the budget for new hires or that the company has a policy of not extending vacation days. In that case, you need to negotiate a six-month review. At this review, you’ll recap your recent accomplishments, present a case for your contributions to the company, and ask again for a modest salary increase. It’s a way to present a show of good faith — if the company is unwilling to raise your starting salary, maybe they’ll give you a small raise once they see what you can accomplish.
As you can see, negotiating more than just salary can have a dramatic effect on your entire compensation package and workplace experience. What else have you negotiated at your previous jobs? How did your hiring managers respond to your negotiations?
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