Negotiation: it’s not just about the money

It has finally happened.  After sending out countless resumes, enduring endless interviews, and waiting by the phone for weeks, you’ve at last had a job offer from your dream company.  Your first impulse is to immediately accept the offer – after all, it’s what you’ve been working so hard to get – but you need to pause for a moment and decide if you are completely happy with the offer, or if you want to try to negotiate something better.  Money – your salary, bonuses, stock options, and such – are usually what comes to mind in job negotiations, and sometimes it is indeed possible to negotiate for increases in these areas.  But just as important for your ultimate satisfaction with the job can be intangible, non-monetary forms of compensation.  And given your new company’s budget constraints, negotiations for increased non-monetary compensation are much more likely to be successful than holding out for an increased salary. 

Job negotiations are about more than just money.

Non-monetary compensation can include the number of vacation days you receive, how often you can work at home, whether you get a window office (or an office at all), who you report to, and your job description.  And sometimes you can find indirect ways to increase your compensation without increasing your salary, such as tuition or parking reimbursement – because they are accounted for differently with different tax implications, companies sometimes have more flexibility in these areas even when they are unwilling to increase direct compensation.

I had one client, a software designer, who suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which meant that he was more likely to feel low or depressed when deprived of direct sunlight for long periods.  Thus, when he moved to a new job, it was in both his and his new employer’s interests to make sure he had an office with a sunny window.  The company wasn’t able to provide him one when he was starting, but they promised that he would have one within six weeks, and in the meantime agreed to let him work two or three days a week from home.  The company was happy to do this since it didn’t cost them anything and ensured a productive employee, and my client was happier than he would have been with a higher salary but an inside office.

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