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8 Benefits You Can (and Should) Negotiate With a Job Offer

benefits to negotiate"
benefits to negotiate
Source: Aryana Johnson
Source: Aryana Johnson

Congrats are in order (or they soon will be!) if you’re researching your negotiation power for a new job! Whether you’ve landed your dream role already or are still in the process of job hunting, polishing up your resume and LinkedIn, having what feels like endless coffee chats and networking meet-ups, and securing interviews is a lot of work. Finding a role and company that are a great fit is no small task, and putting in the effort to do so is something to be proud of! But before you sign on the dotted line, you need to consider what benefits to negotiate with your offer and become confident in how to negotiate benefits.

Ellevest pointed out lesser-recognized benefits to negotiate when starting a new job on their Instagram, and when I saw this, I realized just how many opportunities are left on the table by new employees. We all know to ask for an increase in the base salary we’re offered, but that’s not the only thing we can ask for. From more PTO time to professional development perks and more, it’s your responsibility to set up a chat with your hiring manager or HR rep to negotiate your package. To help make sure you’re getting exactly what you deserve, we’re sharing eight benefits to negotiate and our best tips for how to negotiate benefits ahead.

1. Paid time off

Booking a vacation probably isn’t high on your list of things to think about before you’ve started your new job. However, besides your salary, ample vacation time is one of the best perks to get (girls’ trip, here we come!). Sure, it can be used for travel, but it can also be used for impromptu long weekends and self-care days. So before agreeing to your contract, see if you can negotiate another week or even a few extra days. Especially if your request for a higher starting salary is denied due to budget concerns, employers will often agree to something non-monetary like PTO. And even if you receive your desired salary, asking for more time off is always a good idea.

2. Signing bonus

Whether you’re a new grad working in a competitive field or a mid-career employee bringing tons of skills and experience, ask about a signing bonus! In essence, this is a one-time lump sum payment. It’s typically provided upon signing with the company or after the first three months of employment (when probation periods end). Signing bonuses range from a few hundred dollars to $10,000+, and they are often easier to get than an overall increase in your base salary.

It’s important to note that not all industries offer signing bonuses. For example, they can be easier to come by in fields like healthcare where labor shortages are common compared to fields with more talent available. But with that said, you should always ask if it’s an option. A signing bonus is a great way to help pad your savings, pay down debt, or treat yourself to something nice for getting a new role!

3. Flexible working arrangements

After you’ve gotten your dream salary and your ideal amount of PTO (go you!), now’s a great time to consider when and where you’re working. In a post-pandemic world, more companies are open to remote or hybrid work arrangements. This could look like working a few days at home each week or even getting a month fully remote each year. Did someone say virtual meetings in France?!

If working remotely or in a hybrid model strikes your fancy, discuss this as part of your negotiations before signing. This is when you have the most leverage to ask for what you want, after all. If you successfully negotiate an alternative work arrangement, ensure it is included in written form within your formal contract. Verbal agreements can be harder to enforce down the line.

4. Professional development funds

This one might not be an immediately obvious benefit to ask for, but having some professional development funding from your employer can be a huge perk. Professional development funds can often be used to cover conference fees, certificate programs, or networking and mentorship program fees. Some employers even have arrangements where they cover full- or part-time professional schooling, like MBAs, in exchange for you working for them for a certain time.

Whether you have huge career development plans for your future or not, having this available to you can motivate you to think outside the box and find opportunities for career growth. When negotiating professional development funds, have a general idea of what you might want so you know what to ask for. For example, do you want full or partial coverage for a degree program or a small fund for conference fees? Either way, even a small amount of money for professional development is better than none at all.

5. Equity

If your new role is with a private company, especially a smaller start-up, you’ll definitely want to negotiate for equity. In essence, equity means that you own a small part of the company and would receive profits if the company were to be sold or acquired. If the company were to be sold while you worked there, you would get paid based on how much equity you were given when you first joined.

Similarly, older and more established companies might offer employee stock options. This means they give you stock units in the company that you get access to over a certain period—typically several years, which is considered vesting. Equity can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it, so having an experienced, independent employment lawyer or HR professional look over your equity package before you sign is helpful. This is not something to ignore in your contract as it could be worth a lot of money down the road.

6. Advanced promotion timeline

Is it strange to be thinking about a promotion before you’ve even started your new role? Not when you’re considering how this new job and company will aid in your overall career growth. Before signing, understand what your promotion timeline will be. Is it on an as-earned basis, or is it only after a certain number of years? If promotions are typically offered every few years, discuss early promotion options while reviewing your hiring contract with HR.

This is especially important if you’re making a lateral move. For example, let’s say you’ve been working as a social media manager at Company A, but a similar role at Company B opened up, and they have a better industry reputation. Company B typically promotes on a two-year cycle. Since you’re already confident in your skills and ability to do the job well, you negotiate to have an early promotion discussion before signing. So, instead of discussing promotions after two years, you negotiate one after six months or a year of employment. It’s unlikely a company will promise you an advanced promotion, but having them agree to an earlier discussion to review your work performance can pay off big time down the road.

7. Commuter benefits

“I love sitting in traffic every day!”, said no one, ever. Sadly, commuting is often a part of working life, even with a hybrid role. While it’s not the best part of working, you might be able to make it less costly if you can get your company to cover some of the cost. This might look like a partial or fully subsidized transit pass, a free parking space at your office, or even a portion of your gas mileage covered each month.

This might not seem as glamorous as a higher base salary or extra vacation days (although I hope you get those too), but don’t minimize the financial benefits of having part or all of your commute covered. I once worked at a company that offered subsidized transit passes and a free parking space downtown. After working there for two and a half years, I did the math and realized I had saved myself about $5,000 in commuting costs. Consider that a nice little bonus!

8. Health and wellness benefits

Calling all wellness girlies! You might have heard about some companies offering cool fitness perks like free gym memberships or health benefits like $1000 in massage therapy, but did you know you might be able to negotiate for more before signing your offer? Take a close look at what’s included in your health and wellness benefits to determine if they meet your needs. If they don’t, try your hand at negotiating for them!

For example, if you need a certain medication that isn’t covered by insurance, you may be able to get the company to cover the out-of-pocket costs. I have type 1 diabetes and was able to get my company to make a special exception to cover one of my medical devices. This saves me hundreds every month. Even asking the company to cover the difference of your Pilates studio membership versus a basic gym membership can be a huge savings over time. This is an area a lot of people don’t bother asking about in negotiations, but since the cost to the company is likely minimal, it could work in your favor. This is especially true if they aren’t able to meet bigger demands like an increase in salary or signing bonus.