Negotiating 5 Points May Produce Your Dream Job

Job Offer
Negotiating your next job offer.

The excitement of a new job can often prove overwhelming, but don’t lose your head completely. By remembering to discuss a few items of interest before you sign the offer letter, you can make a good job even better.

How much you earn is always key, but studies show fringe benefits are becoming just as important as money. Companies like to position their benefits packages as static, but there’s likely room to negotiate those points, as well. Here are five things you should inquire about before you take your next job.

Time Off

This is a touchy one for many companies, but still worth discussion. Time off helps employees strike a work-life balance, travel, and otherwise decompress before going back to the grind. It also helps employees get excited for work again.

Start by examining how much time you currently have off (assuming you’re employed and looking for work; otherwise, your last job is a good example). If you have four weeks, but the new company is offering two, explain that you’re accustomed to four weeks and would like to keep that benefit. While the company may balk at doubling their time-off offer, a balance of three weeks may be attainable.

Make sure that more time off up-front doesn’t alter how you earn PTO days moving forward. If new employees get an added week after one full year, you should, too. In 12 months, you’ll be back to four full weeks off.

Work Hours

Families have unique needs. Maybe it’s easier for you to pick the kids up from school, or you’re in charge of weeknight dinners. Perhaps you just don’t like mornings or working after 4 P.M.

Whatever your situation, office hours are sometimes open to discussion. If you’re best going from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., ask if there’s flexibility for you. So long as you’re available to attend meetings as necessary, your new employer may not really care when you pop in.

At the same time, you don’t want to be the outlier, or the bad example. If the rest of the team shows up at 8 A.M., you sauntering in two hours later may not be the best idea. A bit of flexibility goes a long way on both sides.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

If kids are part of your future, there’s a good chance you’ll want to take a bit of time off after they’re born. For those at smaller companies (i.e., less than 50 people) or who have been with their employer less than a year, the Family Medical Leave Act is not applicable.

There’s always short-term disability, which is a method some employers use to cushion family leave. But there might be room for a more “official” balance, such as negotiating to work part-time from home while the newest addition to the family gets used to life. An employer may also offer you full-time remote work on a short-term basis.

Negotiating this can be helpful if a child is expected within your first year of employment.

Remote Work

People love working remotely. It’s quickly becoming one of the more sought-after benefits, with a significant percentage of engineers in our Dice Salary Survey saying it was important to their workplace happiness.

So long as your company has the infrastructure for you to work remotely, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to. With a VPN and access to a centralized database, you can (probably) work from just about anywhere in the world.

Chances are, your employer may still want to see you from time to time, so don’t be too rigid when negotiating this one. Every company has its own rules, and teams within your organization might implement their own guidelines for working remotely. It may also not be available year-round, and sensitive projects may require you to work from the office.


Stock Options

Did you just decide to work at a scrappy startup that’s going to change the world? We could make a pithy ‘stand in line’ joke, but we’ll encourage you to be smart about your future instead.

Oftentimes, smaller companies are bootstrapped. You may not have a fancy office space or those really cool IPS monitors, but you can still come out ahead. When negotiating your contract, consider asking for stock options or a percentage of the company in exchange for perks.

That flashy startup probably can’t afford to give everyone 10 percent of the company, but you can still come out ahead. Even one percent of an Apple or Facebook at the time of creation would be a good haul today. Negotiating it may be easy, too, if the company is serious about bringing you on.

Keep a few things in mind when negotiating, though. Be sure you’re comfortable with how you keep or return your interest. Asking for a piece of the company is a great way to prove you’re serious and loyal, but don’t be surprised when your new company asks that you work there at least five years before it’s really yours to keep. It may also insist on rules related to selling your stake.

Money Isn’t Everything

If you really want bang for your buck, negotiate these terms and move out of Silicon Valley.

These negotiating points may be more useful if a new company can’t afford to pay you what you think you’re worth. In such cases, it may be more advantageous to both parties to simply offer an extra week of vacation time instead of squabbling over a few thousand dollars.

7 Responses to “Negotiating 5 Points May Produce Your Dream Job”

  1. Red White and Blue

    What planet do you live on? I’ve never worked at a place where benefits or perks were negotiable. Maybe because I’ve always worked at big companies where such things were written in stone. I would love to hear comments from people with a different experience.

    • Contractor

      The article is on point. Each item may or may not apply to your own agreement.
      I am retired military and have worked as a contractor for the past 20 years. Typically, I work for a company who assigns me to a client project/site for a couple years. When their contract ends, I usually have to change companies. As I already have medical benefits, I can trade the company coverage for cash about half the time; in the amount of the company savings in premiums. Also, some will start me at the 5 year employee point for earning PTO. Some will add a couple vacation days, if theirs are quite low, but not often. I am looking for more remote work, as it would reduce the impact of transitions. Each agreement may be different.

    • Jeffrey Millet

      Everything is Negotiable!!! 2 questions…

      Do you have the value to offer?

      Do you have the guts to ask?

      How many weeks of vacation is negotiable. Hours on site- vs. what are you proposing and what’s in it for them?
      Bonuses, incentives. Don’t know unless you ask.

      • Red White and Blue

        No, not everything is negotiable. Wherever I’ve worked, everything is written in stone. You get only the PTO that is allowed based on your seniority. Period. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always worked at big corporations, but no one I’ve ever spoken to has been able to negotiate ANY “extra” perks. Doesn’t matter who you are or what you have to offer. You cannot say that everything is negotiable unless you have actually worked at one of those companies.

  2. I agree. It’s very difficult to even start the conversation, let alone negotiate. Vacation days are always in stone and most benefits you can’t access until 90 days of working. I tried the whole “flexibility” thing with my most recent employer. I like having the flexibility of an hour or so–life happens…family, traffic, and sometimes you just want to grab a bagel and coffee before the day’s grind begins. This did not fly and I had two choices, 8:30 to 5 or 9 to 5:30. Both leave me stuck in traffic both ways and I was locked into whichever I chose. What seems like flexibility for the employer is just close-minded nonsense. Most employers assume you’ll steal time from them but for most creatives, our work isn’t confined to our desk. In fact, I would argue that most creativity and ideas happen outside of the office. Again, employers don’t understand that and that’s why remote positions/privileges are rare. I don’t need access to a server and I can get to everything that I need to do my job successfully. I could really work anywhere but instead, I have to waste 30-40 minutes a day in traffic to get to an office where I engage in mindless small talk for at max 2 minutes total. And on top of that, there are always clock-watchers. I was late 5 minutes the other day and I got scolded—mind you, I wasn’t scheduled to perform a heart transplant, etc. I could have easily taken a shorter lunch or I could’ve stayed 5 minutes later at the end of the day. Employers just don’t get it.

    • Contractor

      I agree with comments about time on location. They get the agreed hours, usually more. Lunch and departure times are an easy adjustment and often taken by client/employer when it suits them. I might commute an hour and a half to an office where I do business on line and conference calls with people in other parts of the country. I could do this from anywhere with network services. I believe in flex time, as the specific nature of business allows. However, visible time is still important and will be if that expectation exists. There have been several articles written on the topic, some including influences like getting promoted. As a contractor, I represent my company to the customer, a core attribute. I was encouraged to have been contacted by a major company who is working on a contract to provide a virtual support team. A POC on site and the rest remote. ***The cost is lower (lower bid price) and they can utilize (and afford) experienced people who may not be in that area.*** In my field, I could see some disadvantages to a virtual team involving less experienced people and would offset with conscious mentor interaction.

  3. Miss Techie

    Ronnie, I hear you. You must work 8:30 – 5 or 9 – 5:30, but they make you work overtime when you have to finish a project or you have a production issue. Somehow they forget about that (unpaid) overtime that you worked when you end up coming in late due to traffic or weather.