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How to Negotiate Better Pay and Benefits When the Job Offer Arrives

Sabrina Hill knew that email was the final straw.

By the end of 2021, the message from her human resources 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, had just been divorced and had primary custody of two children who were still attending school virtually. The flexibility of remote work had become a pandemic lifeline she wasn’t ready to give up.

“I never wanted to go back to having 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 data analyst hospitals at the time. . “It was illogical,” she said of the back-to-office rule, “but they were so rigid about it.”

She began her job search that same week, determined to find a company willing to give her both the freedom to control her own schedule and a significant pay raise. Within a month, she landed a fully remote job as a senior data analyst with an extra $20,000 in base salary, unlimited paid time off, and stock options.

“I really thought, ‘Stop playing small and apply for jobs that will get you the money you want,'” Ms Hill said.

His timing couldn’t have been better. Companies advertising remote work opportunities rose 357% on LinkedIn from May 2020 to May 2021, as employers moved to attract job seekers who were equally interested in perks like job privileges. remote work and unlimited paid time off that they were in for a good paycheck. In a recent LinkedIn survey, job seekers ranked work-life balance above compensation as their top priority.

Employers in many sectors must fill positions quickly, drawing from a shallow pool of candidates that does not always meet this demand. For workers savvy enough to recognize their influence, there’s never been a better time to negotiate a generous compensation offer.

Job postings that advertised incentives such as signing bonuses doubled from July 2020 to July 2021, according to And those juicy incentives aren’t just for Silicon Valley engineers and National Football League stars anymore. FedEx and Papa John’s are offering bonuses of $500 to $1,000 for delivery drivers.

As a career and money coach, I’ve seen clients successfully negotiate deals that include substantial salary increases and signing bonuses. The costliest mistake workers can make today is to leave the bargaining table without asking for more.

Here are some strategies.

Make a realistic request for a login bonus. Companies are often more willing to offer candidates bonuses than increase their base salary, since they only have to cover the cost once. The key when asking for a bonus is to ask realistically.

I advise my clients to start with whatever amount of money they leave on the table with their current employer. This can include unvested stock grants, stock options, unearned 401(k) contributions, and even tuition reimbursement funds that they would have to pay back when they leave.

Job seekers who don’t necessarily leave money behind can start by asking the simple question, “Is a sign-up bonus available?” Let the employer name a number first. If you’re in a hurry for specifics, a good place to start is to ask for 10-15% of your base salary.

Arrange several interviews. Even if you have your eye on just one employer, having competing offers from multiple jobs gives you extra bargaining power. Plus, it shows potential employers how in-demand you are.

For Ms. Hill, this strategy has proven useful. She received an attractive offer from her first choice but took a week to make up her mind as she was awaiting an offer from a competitor. During this time, she requested additional perks that she had never considered in previous employment negotiations, such as restricted stock units (shares of the company that would vest over time).

In the end, her go-to company, clinical software company AdaptX, offered her $15,400 worth of restricted stock units and promised that she could be as flexible with her schedule as possible. she had to be.

Request additional equity. If a company offers stock (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 those one-time cash signing bonuses, companies are much more likely to sweeten an equity offer than increase your base salary if they’ve already maxed out their budget for the base.

Plus, if you leave equity on the table with your current employer, there’s a good chance your new business will cover the cost of the shares you lose. Just ask. They may request documentation of your vested and unvested stock grants before they write you a check, so be prepared to produce them.

Ask for paid vacation in advance. After two years working in her role as a healthcare analyst in the midst of a pandemic, Ms Hill was thrilled to find a new competitively paid job opportunity.

But she was still exhausted and needed time to recover before starting her new business. Rather than requesting a later start date and using her savings to cover expenses in the meantime, she asked her new business to allow her to start work but take paid vacation immediately.

“I was able to quit my job early and take about three weeks to reset, and I got paid for it,” Ms Hill said. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow.'”

Read the fine print carefully. Benefits such as signing bonuses and equity often come with strings attached.

With signing bonuses in particular, watch out for clauses that require you to remain employed by the company for a certain period of time or pay the money back.

And restricted stock units are called “restricted” for a reason. They are usually distributed (or “earned”) in batches over several years, and employees can only redeem them during certain times of the year. If you have stock options, which give you the ability to buy company stock at a discount, you cannot exercise them until you reach your vesting date.

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about how these equity incentives work in your interviews. Just save them for your recruiter, who is better equipped to answer them accurately than a hiring manager.

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

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