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What Parts of a Job Offer Are Negotiable?

Updated: Jul 05, 2016 10:00 AM UTC

Mention “job offer negotiation” and most people think of salary, bonus, and start date. But a job offer gives you the opportunity to go far beyond those.

Here are three things to keep in mind for your next job offer:

You can negotiate everything. Aside from salary and bonus, you can discuss items like:

  • Company stock or options grants.
  • Benefits and perks, such as vacation, tuition reimbursement, and car allowance.
  • Downside protection, like a guarantee of a severance payment.

It makes sense to negotiate even if you stand little chance of receiving any of these things. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Although jobs come with salary, everything else is extra.

Read next: The 10 Commandments of Salary Negotiation

You can also negotiate exceptions to policy. If vacation time is normally accrued as you work, can you borrow some days early for a pre-planned vacation coming up? If the company normally offers relocation pay and you don’t need it, can some of that money be earmarked for another benefit you can use, such as professional membership dues?

You can negotiate your title. Perhaps the job is titled marketing manager, but includes both marketing and sales duties. You might lobby for a broader title (marketing and sales manager) or a higher title (marketing senior manager) to better reflect the role.

And you can talk about timing—how long you have to decide on the offer, when you will start.

But prioritize which things matter most. While there are many parts of a job offer to negotiate, you should only deal with the items most meaningful to you. Rank the different components, so you know the top three or four you want to discuss.

Identify what your deal breakers are, if any: Issues that would cause you to decline the offer. You also need to know how you feel about each part of it. This way, say, if the company wants to give you more vacation but less bonus, you’ll know which is more valuable to you.

Keep in mind that negotiation doesn’t stop when you accept the offer. You negotiate while you’re on the job. That may mean getting more people to supervise, increasing your budget, extending a deadline, taking on a project, or delegating one elsewhere.

Diplomacy and reasonableness are your watchwords always. You don’t want to push your future employer’s back to the wall as you over-negotiate. You will have to work with these people, so be selective about what you fight for and preserve the relationship.

Maximize how you will get what you want. Deciding what to negotiate is just the first part. You still must plan and prepare for the actual negotiation. Build a case to support asking for more. Perhaps you point out what competitors are doing and how you bring unique skills to overcome the challenge—ones that command a premium.

Consider the employer’s possible objections, and prepare to address these. Think creatively about how to structure an offer that works for both of you.

Finally, don’t forget to practice the negotiation. Role-play with a friend from human resources or a coach or a mentor. Don’t let the actual meeting with your future employer be the first time you’re making your case.