You have been interviewing for months, endured the inquisition of 10 interviewers and risked losing your job by sneaking out of the office numerous times, but you have finally received the offer. While you are excited to have been offered the job you had your heart set on, the salary—unfortunately—was less than you had hoped for.
This happens all the time. It is easy to get discouraged or insulted and walk away from the offer in a fit of righteous indignation. Before you do that, take a deep breath and keep on reading.
When people think of negotiating compensation, they primarily focus on the salary component. In a perfect world, if you are deemed an appropriate fit, the company should pay you what you are worth. The reality is that we are far from a perfect world. The prevailing argument is, “What difference does an extra $5,000 mean to the company?” While I am not an apologist for big corporations, the question ignores the concept that large, global corporations employ hundreds of thousands of people. That $5,000 (also, consider while you may be asking for $5,000, others see $20,000 or more as a reasonable ask) multiplied by the total number of employees starts to add up to some hefty expenses. Additionally, the less the company pays you, the more money the CEO and executives have to put into their own pockets. After all, have some sympathy; these fat-cat executives have bills to pay too! Do you think it’s easy to maintain five homes in beautiful places, yachts, private jets, private schools for their kids and fancy vacations to exotic locations?
It is a challenging situation when you want the job, but the company won’t budge on the salary. Your ego tells you to decline the offer because the money isn’t where you thought it should be, but your heart wants to say “yes.” If you can’t get the money you desire, here are some things that you could negotiate for which would compensate for the lower salary.
1. While most companies have set standards for the amount of time allocated to vacation, personal and sick days, there is room to negotiate a little extra time off. Those extra days are worth money, as you receive the same salary for fewer days at the office. Also, it is good for your mental and emotional health to have some more days off to recharge.
2. Ask the human resource department if there is some flexibility in the working hours. It may be worth a lower salary if you are able to drop your children off at school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. In fact, that type of flexibility is priceless. This holds true for other circumstances that would make your life easier—to not have to schlep into the office for the usual, mandatory nine-to-five workday.
3. In addition to the extra time off, you could request an option to work from home one or two days out of the week. The chance to avoid the annoying commute and its accompanying wear and tear on your body and soul is worth a fair amount of money.
4. Some firms offer the benefit of contributing toward higher education in your field or student-loan repayment assistance. Check to see if the company has any of these programs.
5. If you are moving to accept this position, find out about the company’s relocation program. Large corporations usually have set plans whereby they help cover the costs of selling your home and purchasing a new house, movers and ancillary expenses. Additionally, they usually offer similar assistance for renters.
6. Certain industries—particularly tech and small growing companies—offer stock or option plans. Find out if you could participate. Getting stock or options in a fast-growing company could be incredibly lucrative. Imagine the incredible wealth that was generated for early employees of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft or Netflix by sacrificing some salary for stock.
7. Usually companies have an annual review. Part of this performance review would include a yearly increase in salary. Request a mid-year review, in addition to the annual review. If you exceed expectations, they may be inclined to enhance your salary without having to wait an entire year.
8. Review the company’s benefit plan, which may include a 401K plan, pension, health, dental, gym membership, life insurance, vision, commuting vouchers, severance package if you are discharged and other coverage. Check to see what your co-pay will be. If the benefits are strong, it could be worth thousands of dollars to you.
9. A higher-level title is worth a lot of money in the future. Some firms are rigid with their titles and others are fairly loose. If you are able to obtain a Vice President (VP) title—as opposed to an Assistant Vice President (AVP) designation, it is worth money for when you are looking for the next job. It also makes you look better to your co-workers and gives you some extra bragging points to your family and friends.
10. If you are leaving any money behind, ask for an upfront bonus to cover any bonuses, unvested stock or retirement plans that you are walking away from.
11. Having the privacy and sanctity of your own office, instead of residing in a cubicle farm, is worth a few thousand dollars a year.
So, before you walk away from the offer, make sure that you have fully investigated and negotiated for all these and any other available remunerations, benefits and perks in lieu of the salary increase.