We work not only to produce, but to give value to time. -Eugene Delacroix
Negotiating your compensation package for a position does not have to be an arm wrestling match but it does require you to think strategically and fully understand how to communicate your value. While you may be great at what you do, if you cannot find a way to communicate that to an employer they will not be able to determine your value.
It is important to note: Compensation isn’t just about money; it’s about the trade-off – how much you can get for what you are giving.
I have had many clients, colleagues and friends tell me stories about how they don’t paid enough money in comparison to all the work they do. My response is simple: “Well, that is what you agreed to!” Or as my kids always say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”. Don’t continue holding the employer hostage, being bitter over your salary/benefits when you agreed to the offer and accepted it at the time of hire. Don’t worry, you can still change your paycheck!
I’ll share with you a tip I give to my clients who want a promotion or raise between annual reviews:
Solve a problem! Yes, that’s right. Find an existing issue (one that everyone knows about but no one does anything to fix), create a strategy to solve it, get some support and actually solve the problem. Once you’ve done that, make sure you communicate the benefit(s) of solving the problem in terms of money. How much more did you increase productivity as a result? How did that translate into saving the company money? Once you’ve determine the monetary value of your problem solving technique, paying you more is no longer a budgetary concern.
Here’s the key – Find the money so it can’t be used as an excuse not to increase your paycheck. Add value and in return, ask for that value to be measured in additional compsenation to you.
Compensation is a personal choice. It’s the bare minimum terms and conditions you are willing to accept before you take on a new position.
So what should you consider when negotiating a compensation package?
I cannot tell you what is best for you; only you can decide that. Things that may be a priority in your life may not be a priority for someone else. However, here are many things to consider while negotiating your compensation package.
Remember, compensation is not just about money and I believe most everything is negotiable (maybe that’s because I try to negotiate everything), especially when starting a new job so here are my picks:
Minimum desired salary (of course!). What you absolutely must have to meet your financial obligations, retirement, and leisurely spending. This should consider the work you are expected to do and your anticipated duties (you know, the stuff they will add on without paying you for it!).
Retirement benefits. Find out what the retirement package looks like. Find out how much your employer contributions are. Ask when you are eligible to participate in the plan. These areas can often be negotiable and could supplement a desired salary.
Health benefits. Your health is essential to your happiness at work. Find out details and terms of the health provider and when your benefits will start after your hire date. Again, this can be negotiated.
Vacation time/Sick leave. How much time will you receive and when can you begin to accrue or use it. Bump up a week or two paid vacation if you can’t get your desired monetary salary. You may be a person who likes to travel a lot, so think about adding that into your package.
Social responsibility. Does the company give back to any charitable organizations? Are they involved in the local community? Does this matter to you? If yes, add it in! Consider the image of the company you will work for. If their reputation is negative, that’s leverage to consider when negotiating. Their brand affects your brand and vice versa.
Flexibility. Is the company respectful of your family time requirements? Do they respect family commitments outside of work? Basically, can you leave work at 5pm (or whatever time works for you) to go pick up your kids, rush to class, etc., without feeling like you are going to be fired? Do they care more about the hours you work or about the work being done and the quality of work delivered? Can you work from home or are you required to finish your work only during working hours at the office? This flexibility could be just what you need to secure happiness in your new workplace.
Expense/Reimbursement requirements. Ask about the corporate expense policy and reimbursement for business related travel expenses. Find out the reimbursement schedule and requirements.
You may want a corner office or dry cleaning services instead of a big retirement package or vacation time. The key is to find what is important to you and consider that when negotiating your compensation package.
The most important part of negotiating salary is being reasonable.
Remember your employer knows the industry and knows what the going rate is, even though they may consider your experience and work history as well. It’s important to remain respectful, confident, yet stern in your negotiations.
At the end of the day, if you are not happy with your compensation then you are not helping the employer and you are certainly not helping yourself. Don’t settle for less when you are the best!
Do you believe you get paid your worth? If not, I hope these tips help you. If you do, please share your tactics with others in the comment section.