Career

7 Things You Should Negotiate Before You Accept a Job

Feb. 19, 2016

It's not all about the salary

You might be tempted to just say an enthusiastic “Yes!” when you get a job offer. But assuming this isn’t your first or second job, there’s a lot you can—and should—negotiate.

Salary is an obvious starting point, but there are other factors to consider that could make a big difference in your life and career.

“It isn’t unusual to be negotiating—especially for millennials,” says career expert Nicole Williams, founder of women-centric career brand WORKS and author of Earn What You’re Worth. “Companies are used to this.”

But companies won’t just offer up added perks—it’s up to you to ask for what you want.

What should you consider? Williams recommends asking for three of the following—whichever are most important to you.

1. More vacation time
“This is one of the easiest things to ask for,” says Williams, as it usually doesn’t cost employers as much as increasing your salary or stepping up some other benefits.

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2. Flex time
Got a crazy commute? Know you’re way more productive in the early morning? Flex time (i.e., work-from-home days and/or flexible work hours) is definitely something to consider.

“You’re going to save money with flex time, and you’re not getting dressed and not commuting on some days,” says Williams.

Just be specific when you ask (for example: “I want to work from home one day a week”). And be sure to get it in writing so there won’t be any confusion down the road.

3. A better title
Your title doesn’t just show the job you’re doing—it indicates the job that you’re aspiring to, says Williams. If you’re not crazy about the title offered, ask for a new one. Williams recommends going on LinkedIn and looking at previously held job titles of people who are in charge of a company that you like. Pick one that you like and that’s appropriate for your role, and ask for it.

4. Transportation reimbursement
Gas and metro cards aren’t cheap, so ask your employer to reimburse you for your travel expenses to and from work. It could end up saving you thousands of dollars. One thing to know: Some companies offer this as part of their standard benefits, so you’ll want to see if this is already part of your compensation package before you use one of your three asks on it.

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5. A severance package
If this is your first job, you’ll want to pass on this one. But if you’ve been working for a few years and have experience that you’re bringing to the company, it’s a good perk to ask for.

“Then, if you lose your job through no fault of your own, you’re protected,” says Williams.

She recommends asking for a certain percentage of your salary or one to two months of compensation. You can also ask for how long you work there to be factored in (so if you’re laid off after three years, you’d get more money than if you had only been there for one). Just keep it within reason, says Williams: “If you ask for a year’s salary, they’re going to laugh you out of the office.”

6. Office space
Don’t wait to be dumped into a random cubicle—ask for a centrally located workspace. Having a central office or workspace also allows you to build relationships in a way that you wouldn’t if you were in a corner.“If you plan to get to work early and work late, you want to be focal and in an office where your boss can see that,” says Williams. “You can learn a lot of valuable information that way.”

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7. Tuition reimbursement
While some employers might balk at, say, footing the entire bill for you to get a master’s degree in your off-time, there are plenty that are comfortable with paying for a course or designating a set amount of money toward tuition. “For a lot of young women, I recommend that they negotiate for a public-speaking course,” says Williams. “That’s one of the key skills you need to develop early in your career.” Just be sure to spell out how it will add to your skill set at work when you ask.

Of course, when and how you ask for these perks is crucial. Williams recommends doing it at the same time as you’re negotiating what you’ll make. “Think of it as compensation instead of salary,” she says.

If you know a company won’t budge on salary, say something like, “I’d love to work for you, but unfortunately this isn’t meeting my salary expectations. I’d like to negotiate additional terms…” and then list your top three. It’s also a good idea to use this conversation as a way to pitch yourself as someone who is going to be contributing to the company’s bottom line. “You have to be willing to articulate what you’re bringing to the table and then talk about additional opportunities and perks,” says Williams.

Above all, Williams says it’s vital to know what your priorities are and what will make you feel satisfied. But definitely negotiate—even if you’re offered the salary you wanted. “It’s important,” says Williams. “This is one of those things that can work to your career advantage.”