How to Negotiate Benefits

Happy man enjoying the rain of moneyJob search books are filled with tips and techniques for negotiating salary, but compensation is only part of the package. Savvy employers know that candidates want more than an attractive salary, so many provide a targeted employee value proposition (EVP) that covers everything from flex time and telecommuting to wellness programs and an opportunity to become involved in a variety of social responsibility causes. 

Jobseekers, especially early talent professionals, are unaware that many of these items can be negotiated. Once an employer has extended an offer and you’ve settled on financial terms such, be sure to inquire about the overall benefits package and come prepared to negotiate one or two items that are of particular importance to you.

To get the most from the exchange be sure to:

  1. Categorize Potential Benefits: Prepare a list of typical benefits noting which are “must haves” or “deal breakers” and those throw away items that are simply not important to you.
  2. Consider the Employer’s Perspective: Once you have your list note which items contain a direct or indirect cost to employers and which are essentially free to provide. For example, many candidates consider vacation time to be a freebie, but from an employer’s perspective this is a real cost that translates directly to a year over year expense and productivity issue. If they won’t budge on that extra week maybe they will offer a sign-on bonus and delay the start date for two weeks so you can transition fresh.
  3. Don’t Nickel and Dime: While having one or two requests is reasonable, avoid coming off as a high maintenance employee by pulling out a Geneva Convention sized discussion document. This is especially true in tough job markets or in situations where you’ve scored a major salary increase.
  4. Role-Play Your Strategy: I know, everyone hates role-playing, but practicing the conversation be it salary discussions or benefit negotiations will help you relax and prepare you for the counter argument. For example, if a specific title is important to you, but it doesn’t fit in the formal job structure, inquire about the use of business titles for external reference. Don’t want to put your education on hold due to the job change, ask them to waive any waiting period for participation in the company’s tuition reimbursement program or better yet, ask for a sign on bonus to cover costs.

Hiring external candidates is a costly, risky, and time consuming task for managers so if they’ve already made a decision based on your qualifications, it’s easer for them to concede a small request or two to validate their choice. If you’ve found a way to outshine the competition, few things will be off limits.   

Need a career coach? Contact me via www.plotlineleadership.com.

Be sure to check out my new book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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