10 Things To Negotiate Other Than A Title
Every time I was promoted at my last company, I was flattered. I worked hard and was trained never to look a gift horse in the mouth. So I said thank you and kept working. When the chips fell, there was a moment when I learned that I made exactly 25% less than my male peers. I had become a statistic.
Initially I justified it to myself that I didn’t need the money – those people had families, kids, pets, etc. Then I woke up. And forced myself to have a hard conversation with the powers that be. You can imagine right sizing after so many years raised a red flag.
No HR rep wants to stand up to the CEO and explain one person’s sudden above average salary increase. At that point, the suits could care less about performance, parity, or gender economics.
You are better off making small asks along the way. The difference adds up – whether you ask and even if you don’t.
And what you negotiate doesn’t have to be money, although of course I suggest starting there. The company may say they can’t do anything for you. It was a tough year, etc. In that case, here are some other valuable angles to explore to expand the conversation.
“Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate.”
-John F. Kennedy
This one is a classic. You’re a valued part of the company which is why you’re getting promoted. Chances are you don’t take the vacation you have. And they know it. So try asking for more and make a personal commitment to take it.
For example, planning a few days off every month rather than one uber trip could be more restful and less guilt-ridden.
Let’s say you are the best Quality Assurance analyst in the department, but you have a hankering to move into product development. A promotion is a perfect time to share your aspirations tactfully.
Truthfully, nobody likes to hear that their star is thinking about changing departments – but in the context of career development and keeping good employees, any manager worth their salt will appreciate the open conversation.
Depending on the company and their budget policies, there may be a separate line item for bonuses vs. salary. If there is no room to move on compensation, you could try asking for a bonus or perhaps the guarantee of a future bonus.
Context can be helpful here. For instance, while I haven’t used it myself, I’m told that talking about your student debt is fair game.
This is common in the startup world and likely less possible in large corporations. However, there are other machinations that you could ask about like RSUs (Restricted Stock Units), common stock, and options.
And even if the human resources rep looks at you like you’re crazy, just shrug and say it’s common in the startup world where you’ve had a few conversations…
“When I was 25, I worked as hard as people work at startups, and all I got for it was salary and a small bonus. If I’d known about equity, I would have seriously considered trying to work for a company where I’d get some.
-Jessica Livingston, Cofounder of Y Combinator
Many companies have some form of tuition reimbursement for education. If your company doesn’t, this is something to ask for.
Education, whether a coding class or graduate degree, is one of the few acceptable means to meaningfully pivot your career. And it can get expensive. So let the company invest in your future to keep you motivated.
Sometimes the little things matter. Being able to take a taxi home after burning the midnight oil is one of them. Or getting reimbursed for gas money.
One of my past bosses was re-upping his contract and getting nowhere with his salary requests. His last Hail Mary was to ask for the ability to book First Class when travelling. He got it. You never know.
Assuming you work at a company that still has offices, this may be applicable. My friend’s firm is currently moving all employees to a “hoteling” model, which may mean this could be a negotiation about having a permanent desk. It may help your case here to allude to the confidential or sensitive nature of your everyday work.
I think this one often gets overlooked, but it is a very real thing that corporations get better interest rates. They are moving a lot more money than you and me. Therefore, it’s not unheard of for companies to underwrite mortgages, car purchases, or loans for employees. It’s worth asking.
Expanding your network and giving back is good for both you and the company. Who knows where the next deal comes from? The out of pocket expenses can add up, so it is reasonable to ask for reimbursement.
This could include ticket costs, association dues, and even charitable giving.
Finally, negotiation is not for the faint-hearted. Raising any one of the above items may raise eyebrows and open the door for rejection. Please don’t let that stop you. Even if you hear no, ask them if they would be willing to revisit the conversation in 3 months, 6 months, or maybe a year.
To make it sound less entitled (which it is not), consider saying it like this, “I don’t want to interfere with process, but I’m wondering if we might be able to talk about this again in 3 months. I wouldn’t ask if it didn’t mean a lot to me.”
There is no commitment and most sane people would agree to at least talk about it again in the future. And if not, take note – their response is another data point for you.
“The environment is everything that isn’t me.”