Negotiate for What Matters

With most economic sectors improving, potential employees finally feel that they have a bit of leverage when deciding whether to take a new job. And, contrary to popular belief, research shows that money isn’t the most important motivator to keep current or prospective employees happy.

Sybil Pressprich is a senior career counselor who helps people facing a job loss.
Sybil Pressprich: The purpose of negotiation is a mutually positive, win-win situation for the employee and the organization.

According to David Bailey at Bailey Human Capital Consulting, you can always negotiate, even if this is your first job. In fact, human resources professionals expect it. So why not ask for the things that really matter to you?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Flexibility—Whether it means a regularly scheduled day to work from home or the ability to come and go as deadlines allow, both you and your employer are better off if your schedule lessens your stress rather than adding to it.
  • Title change—This likely has little cost implications for your employer and might make a job more palatable for you, especially if you’re considering a lateral move. Keep in mind that locking into a title can mean you’re also locked into a salary range. So ask if your proposed title might limit your upward salary movement down the line, versus one that offers more room for growth.
  • Stock options—If you’re doing your job well, you’re contributing to the company’s success. So why shouldn’t you benefit? Many privately held companies and start-ups have stock options available, but you may have to ask for it.
  • Lump sum—You can also ask for a one-time amount to pay for costs related to your job change for things like breaking your lease, hiring movers, paying for transitional childcare, etc.
  • Technology—Most of us are connected all the time and the days of carrying multiple devices are long over. So ask for a stipend to cover your cell phone, for an upgraded laptop so you can work from any location, or for a home printer.
  • Professional membership fees—It is in everyone’s best interests for you to stay current and networked in your field. Don’t forget to include time to attend membership events and meetings in your job requirements or annual goals.
  • Continuing education—Is your future employer willing to invest in your growth? The long-term value of training and professional development opportunities might make your total compensation offer look much more attractive.

Here’s a final critical point: starting a job isn’t the only time you can negotiate. If you’re a good employee, your employer wants to keep you that way. Use your annual review or goal-setting time to talk about the incentives that you feel are meaningful.

Remember, the purpose of negotiation is a mutually positive, win-win situation for the employee and the organization—so that all parties feel respected, appreciated, and pleased with the outcome.

Sybil Pressprich is a career and educational counselor for the Division of Continuing Studies at UW-Madison. Pressprich helps adults with career transitions and continuing education through individual sessions and workshops. Contact her at sybil.pressprich@wisc.edu.


This article originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal.