Negotiating Compensation

The dreaded negotiation! How much money should you ask for? What benefits do you want? What comes standard at most jobs? What other cool stuff can you get thrown into your contract that you don’t even know about yet?

Negotiating is a delicate task. A lot depends on your company and your position. If you are being hired as a “training class” fresh out of college, there will not be much room for you to ask for anything special because everyone in your class will get the same compensation package. If you do have some wiggle room, here are some things to consider:

Signing bonus
Some companies need you to make a decision early in the process. If you choose them early and stop interviewing with other companies, often times you can ask for a signing bonus of up to $1,000. This is a promise that even though your start date might not be for a few months, you will sign the contract and join their team. If you choose another company during that period you will need to give back that money, and have some “esplainin” to do.

Moving/relocation stipend
If your job requires you to move to a new location you can ask for a relocation stipend to cover moving expenses. If your company is really great they may even fly you out for a few days to check out apartments, help you secure housing, or put you up in a hotel for a few weeks when you start till you get settled.

Car allowance
If your job requires a lot of driving or a long commute you may be eligible for a car allowance, or a company car. This generally covers gas, insurance, and any wear and tear on the vehicle.

Cell phone allowance
Smart phones don’t come cheap. Your company may issue you a company phone or computer, or they may provide you with an allowance to cover your data plan. I have seen some companies offer a “hotspot” so employees can have 4G access on their company issued phone, tablet, and computer anywhere they go.

Time to consider
This is one that I needed. Generally you only have a few days or a few weeks to give your answer once you are extended an offer. I got my first official offer March 7th and my second offer March 9th, but I still had a few more interviews through the beginning of April. As a part of my negotiation I asked for the employer to hold the offer for a month so that I could have time to decide.

Vacation days / Flex time
You might get 14 days paid vacation in a standard offer. If you can negotiate for more vacation days, vacation accrual, or the option to earn more days that is always a plus. Flex time or the ability to work from home some days is also a nice addition. Some companies have extremely formal policies while others are more flexible.

It’s not you it’s me
Once you make your decision if you have other offers on the table you need to let them down gently. It’s just like breaking up with your gf/bf- there is a classy way to do this and a less than appropriate way. Pick up the phone and give them a call. Just like breaking up via text is a cop-out, so is sending an email. If you got an offer, that means the recruiters and the managers were ready to pay you to be a part of their team every day, don’t they at least deserve a phone call?  They won’t be mad at you, this is their job, they know you are highly desirable and they expect you to be interviewing with other companies.

If the recruiters are professional they will wish you the best of luck and tell you if anything changes to keep in touch. They may even try to get you to change your mind, but don’t feel bad or pressured, be polite. You do not have to tell them why you are going in a different direction, and you certainly don’t need to tell them how much their competitors are going to pay you. Just because you get asked an inappropriate question does not mean you need to answer. Be polite and try to be honest without compromising any details your new company wouldn’t want their competitors to know.

Kelli Lampkin

Kelli Lampkin is a writer, traveler, comedienne, and entrepreneur.

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  • Noelle Mcchristian

    Hey Kelli,
    Love your blog!  This post especially caught my eye as I am a recruiter and deal with this on a daily basis.  I appreciate your last bullet point, especially.
    I cannot tell you how much we appreciate a phone call declining our offer.  If you ignore our phone calls and leave us with the dreaded decision to make that “ultimatum phone call” (If we don’t here from you by such and such a date we will have to assume you have rejected our offer) – it makes us wonder why we made you an offer in the first place and you have permanently burned a bridge.
    Professionalism in declining an offer says a lot about a candidate’s character and integrity.  
    It’s good to know that you are passing along this knowledge!  

    Thanks again for your wonderful blog!

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