How to Negotiate for Better Pay and Benefits When a Job Offer Lands

Sabrina Hill knew this email was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

By the end of 2021, a letter from her HR department informed her that she would be required to return to her office full time. No exceptions.

It was late August, and Ms. Hill, who lives in Seattle, was newly divorced and had two children who were almost still going to school. The flexibility of remote work has become an epidemic lifeline that she was not willing to give up.

“I never wanted to go back to the obligation to be in an office, especially as a data professional, where all my work is on the computer,” said Ms. Hill, 47, who was a hospital data analyst at the time. “It was inconsequential, but they were very strict about it,” she said of the back-to-office rule.

She began her job search the same week, intent on finding a company willing to give her freedom to control her work schedule — and a big pay raise. Within a month, I landed a fully remote job as a senior data analyst with an extra $20,000 in base salary, unlimited paid time off plus stock options.

“I just said to myself, ‘Stop playing on the small scale, and apply for the jobs that will pay you the money you want,'” said Mrs. Hill.

Its timing couldn’t be better. Companies advertising remote work opportunities jumped an astonishing 357 percent on LinkedIn from May 2020 to May 2021, as employers shifted to attract job seekers who were interested in perks such as telecommuting perks and unlimited paid vacations as they were getting good salary. . In a recent LinkedIn survey, job seekers rated work-life balance above compensation as their top priority.

Employers in various industries need to fill roles quickly, relying on a shallow pool of applicants that does not always meet this demand. For workers seasoned enough to learn about their influence, this could not have been a better time to negotiate a generous compensation offer.

Job postings announcing incentives such as bonus signings doubled from July 2020 to July 2021, according to Indeed.com. And these exciting incentives aren’t just for Silicon Valley engineers and NFL stars anymore. FedEx and Papa John’s are offering $500 to $1,000 rewards to delivery drivers.

As a job and money coach, I’ve seen clients successfully negotiate offers that include big salary increases and signing bonuses. The most costly mistake workers can make these days is to leave the bargaining table without asking for more.

Here are some strategies.

Submit a realistic request for login reward. Companies are often more willing to reward job candidates rather than increase their base salary because they only have to cover the cost once. The key when asking for a reward is to make a realistic request.

I advise my clients to start with whatever amount of money they leave on the table at their current employer. This can include granting unvested stock, stock options, unvested 401(k) contributions, and even tuition reimbursement money that they will have to repay when they leave.

Job seekers who don’t necessarily leave money behind can start by asking the simple question: “Is the login bonus available?” Let the employer name a number first. If she pressures you for specifics, it’s best to ask for 10 to 15 percent of your base salary.

Line up multiple interviews. Even if you’re keeping an eye on one employer, getting competitive offers from multiple jobs gives you extra negotiating power. In addition, it shows potential employers the extent of your application.

For Ms. Hill, this strategy came in handy. She received an attractive offer from her top pick but required a week to make the decision because she was waiting for an offer from a competitor. During that time, she requested additional perks that she had never considered in previous job negotiations, such as restricted stock units (shares in the company that would grant over time).

Ultimately, her company of choice, clinical software company AdaptX, offered $15,400 worth of restricted stock units and promised that it would be as flexible with its schedule as it wanted.

Ask for more shares. If the company is offering equity (such as restricted stock units or stock options) as an incentive for new hires, you can always ask for more than the initial offer. Similar to one-time cash-log bonuses, companies are more likely to improve their stock offering rather than increase your base salary if they already exceed their base budget.

Also, if you are leaving equity on the table with your current employer, you stand a good chance that your new company will cover the cost of any shares you forfeit. You have to ask. They may require documentation of your vested and unvested stock grants before they cut you a check, so be prepared to give it.

Request paid leave in advance. After two years working in her role in health care analysis amid the pandemic, Ms. Hill was thrilled to find a new competitively paid job opportunity.

But she was still exhausted and longed for a vacation to recover before starting her new venture. Instead of asking for a later start date and using her savings to make ends meet in the meantime, she asked her new company to let her start working and take paid time off immediately.

“I was able to quit my job early and it took about three weeks for me to be rehired, and I paid for it,” Ms Hill said. I thought, ‘Oh, wow. “

Read the finer details carefully. Perks such as login bonuses and royalties often come with conditions.

With login bonuses in particular, watch out for items that require you to remain employed by the company for a certain period or you have to pay cash.

Restricted inventory units are called “restricted” for a reason. It is usually cashed out (or “vest”) in instalments over several years, and employees can only cash it out during certain periods throughout the year. If you were granted stock options, which give you the option to buy company stock at a discount, you can’t exercise them until you reach the vesting date.

Don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions about how these equity incentives work during interviews. Simply save it for your recruiter, who is more willing to answer them accurately than the hiring manager.

Mandy Woodruff Santos is a freelance financial journalist, co-host of the career and finance podcast “Brown Ambition” and a wealth and career coach.

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