We’ve all heard about the value of negotiating salary before accepting a job offer. “Know your worth,” “Ask for what you deserve,” “Be willing to walk away if you don’t get what you want,” and so on. But a new hire package typically comes with other benefits woven in—many of which are up for negotiation, as well.
Paid time off, parental leave, commuter benefits, professional development opportunities, tuition reimbursement—the list goes on. There are so many things you can consider when assessing an offer, and understanding the full range of options available to you can be particularly helpful, both when you’re accepting a new position and when you’re trying to find wiggle room within your current one (especially if your boss isn’t able to give you that raise you asked for).
To learn more about all the benefits available in contract land, I spoke with a handful of recruiters, bosses, and human resources executives. They clued me in on a ton of benefits I had no idea about, all of which you can find below.
According to the experts I spoke with, you can negotiate...
1. How much paid time off you get
“Make sure to ask for work-life balance perks you care about, like paid time off. Many companies will offer a limited amount of paid vacation time. But if you’re coming from a company where you had more, you can negotiate for them to match that number.
Let’s say a new employer is only offering you two weeks of paid time off, but you had three at your previous employer—you should ask for three. Some places will be willing to match that number in order to make sure they don’t lose a potential new hire.” —Tiffani Murray, an independent HR and operations strategist with more than 15 years of human resources experience
2. Your hours
“Having a flexible work schedule can be invaluable, depending on your situation. If you want to negotiate for one, you can always say that you plan to be in the office full-time for the first few months to familiarize yourself with the space, build relationships, and learn the business inside and out. Then, you can mention that you’re at your most productive when you work slightly different hours—maybe you have kids who you want to take to school every morning, or maybe you just like waking up early or staying up late.
Demonstrate to them that you’re committed to the job (hence spending the first few months in the office), and that you feel you can add more value to the company if you’re allowed a more flexible schedule.” —Sara Curto, a talent acquisition specialist who’s spent the last four years at a recruitment agency
3. The ability to work from home
“Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s a completely reasonable ask for most jobs. Just be sure to negotiate for it appropriately. Don’t just drop in out of nowhere and ask your boss if you can work from home every Friday; make the ask after you’ve finished a great project, or frame it in a way that benefits the company.
One example: ‘Every week, I end up with a lot of paperwork that I can’t get done due to office distractions. I know I could get more done if I was able to work from home every Friday.’” —Joe Weinlick, the chief marketing officer at the recruiting marketing company Nexxt
4. Help repaying your students loans
“Many college graduates leave school with student debt to pay off, and many companies can afford to offer student loan repayment programs to their employees. Most of these programs offer $100 per month; while that might not seem like a lot, it can certainly add up over time.
If you’re interested in negotiating for a benefit like this, you should wait until you’ve received an offer and assess the benefits package in its entirety before bringing it up. Once you fully understand what they’re offering you, you have room for further discussion.
Ask yourself: What could I use in this package to negotiate for the student loan repayment? If the employer is offering less paid vacation than expected, see if they’ll provide student loan repayment benefits to make up for it.” —Cynthia Corsetti, an executive coach who previously served as the vice president of HR at a national engineering company
5. Money to go to grad school
“If tuition reimbursement for graduate or other programs is important to you, ask about it, and tell the employer why it matters to you. Remember: The worst they can do is say no. But if you don’t ask for it, you’ll never know what the answer is. Plus, if you’ve researched the company to familiarize yourself with their values and understand what benefits they offer, you should be able to make a strong case for yourself.” —Matthew Burr, an HR consultant who previously owned a business
6. What professional development opportunities you can take advantage of
“If you’re interested in professional development, it can be worth asking if your company would be willing to offer a stipend or reimbursement for training, certification, membership dues, or industry conferences.” —Brandi Britton, the district president of the staffing firm OfficeTeam who’s worked in the recruiting industry for 19 years
7. Coverage for child care costs
“Parental benefits—like child care reimbursement—have gained popularity in recent years. If this is a must-have for you, bring it up. It’s worth negotiating for benefits if having them will make you happier and better able to achieve work-life balance in the long run.” —Brandi Britton
8. Parental leave
“Many employees struggle when they see the blanket benefits package a company offers, because it’s not customized to their lifestyle. If you expect to have children soon—or even if you just think they’re on the way eventually—it’s worth asking about paid maternity and paternity leave policies. Find out what they currently offer, and see if you can negotiate for the policy that works best for you.” —Traci Fiatte, the CEO of professional and commercial staffing for the human resources service Randstad
9. Assistance with your commuting costs
“If you’ll have a long commute, there are plenty of benefits you should consider asking for. For instance, you could request that they provide you with an automobile to use. If they won’t do that, maybe they could add your car to the company insurance policy, cover a certain portion of your automobile expenses, or share the cost of a leased vehicle.” —Michael Rainey, a business instructor at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School
10. Health and wellness benefits
“If you care a lot about health and wellness, you can always try negotiating for relevant benefits—like gym pass reimbursement, work showers, or the option to use a standing desk.” —Becky Barr, the head of jobs data insights at the job search company Adzuna
11. Getting a work phone or laptop
“Depending on where you work, you might need technology to get the job done. Will the company provide you with a laptop? A cell phone? Any other relevant device?” —Matthew Burr
12. Moving costs (if you’re relocating)
“If you’re taking a new job that’s far away from where you currently live, ask about relocation assistance. Some employers offer this automatically and have set allowances built into their budgets, but others might not—you might need to negotiate to get it on the table.” —Brandi Britton
13. Whether they’ll write severance package guidelines into your contract
“One perk to consider is asking for is a severance package written into your contract. This package would activate should the company be acquired or should you be laid off due to no fault of your own, and it can help you ensure that you’re prepared in case things go awry.” —Susan Peppercorn, a senior career transition consultant with the leadership development firm ClearRock
14. Time off for community service or charitable contribution matching
“If community causes are important to you, ask if the company supports days off to volunteer. What about matching contributions to charities or other causes?” —Tiffani Murray
15. A better title
“Sometimes, non-monetary benefits can translate into greater value than a simple raise can. For example, negotiating for a more senior-level title or office is an obvious way to create non-monetary value for yourself. Plus, your ability to innovate and create bilateral benefits might impress the prospective employer, as well.” —Michael Rainey
16. A signing bonus
“One form of monetary negotiation that people often forget: bonuses. These can and should be negotiated (even annually, during your performance review). You can negotiate for a sign-on bonus or relocation bonus when you first accept an offer, and you can also negotiate for other kinds of bonuses—ones you earn if you excel at your job.” —Claire Bissot, the managing director of HR services at the financial services and business consulting firm CBIZ
17. Stock options or any other long-term incentives
“You can always ask about stock options or other long-term incentives if you’re at the management level. Many companies reserve some of these benefits for certain levels, but it never hurts to ask if it hasn’t come up.” —Tiffani Murray