The hunt for a new job can be exhausting. Whether you’re filling out applications for a few weeks, a month, or maybe even a year, the moment that you receive an offer letter feels like a chance to breathe again.
It’s validating to hear that a company wants to hire you, and a relief to know you can stop scouring job boards.
In that moment of relief, you might be tempted to accept the first salary offer that comes your way, no questions asked. But most employers anticipate—and even expect—some measure of negotiation from potential new hires.
You should never feel uncomfortable countering a company’s initial offer, backing yourself up with careful research about industry standards, cost of living, and other relevant details.
However, even a generous salary may not amount to much if the other benefits leave something to be desired. How much paid time off will you be allowed? What will happen to your insurance premiums?
Asking these types of questions will help you nail down just how much of your salary you will be able to take home after covering other significant costs.
The good news is, in most cases, you can negotiate all kinds of benefits beyond just your take-home salary. You might be surprised what types of counteroffers your new company will accommodate to win you over.
Here’s a list of things that you should consider negotiating in your next job:
Your employer might offer basic health insurance plans, but what about dental, disability, and vision insurance?
Life insurance, in particular, is one type of coverage that most people don’t like to think they will need—but permanent life insurance policies can accumulate cash value over the course of your life and career. By negotiating for more insurance coverage, you will be protecting yourself from future costs as well as building your wealth.
2. Signing Bonus
A signing bonus usually takes the form of a one-time lump sum paid to you when you start a new job. Be aware, this sometimes comes with the expectation that you will repay that amount if you leave the company before a predetermined time frame.
As long as you expect to work for your new employer for more than a few months or a year, a signing bonus can help you cover costs in that tricky time between the last paycheck at your old job and the first paycheck at your new job.
If starting at your new job will require you to move any distance, don’t be afraid to ask the company to pay for your relocation costs. Moving services can cost up to four thousand dollars depending on the range of your move; for you, that may feel like an unmanageable expense, but for a large company it may be just a drop in the bucket.
Many employers will cover the entire cost of your move (cost up to $97,000 per employee on average—whatever it takes to get their new hire in the right place to start working.
4. Paid Time Off
At the minimum, you should aim for your new company to match the amount of paid time off you received in your old position. This is not always possible, but it’s a reasonable request, especially if you’re unhappy with your initial job offer.
Even if the new job has more paid time off built into it, it’s a good time to consider whether you might benefit from more days off. Is it hard to squeeze in doctor’s appointments or much-needed vacations because you are always saving up vacation days? Think about asking for more from the get-go.
5. Parental Leave
Many countries now require employers to offer paid parental leave, but in places like the United States, working parents only get a brief period of unpaid leave. While it’s intimidating to ask about parental leave, if you have an offer letter in hand it should be okay to bring up the issue during negotiations.
Furthermore, it’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against you for your plans to have children. More and more employers are implementing family-friendly policies these days, and they might be happy to commit to extended parental leave when the time comes.
Telecommuting has jumped by 140% since 2005, which indicates that jobs increasingly rely on technology and digital collaboration to supplement actual face time. Not every position will be conducive to remote work, but if you have a relatively autonomous role you might have success negotiating for one day of telecommuting each week, or a similar schedule.
7. Transportation Costs
Day after day, year after year, the cost of commuting to and from work can add up quickly. If you anticipate an expensive commute, whether because of gas prices, bus fare, or other factors, you would be justified to request some compensation or assistance.
You can ask your new employer to buy you a transit pass if you live in an urban area, or you might even be able to negotiate a company-leased car if you will be making frequent drives beyond the daily commute.
The extent to which the company is ready and willing to help may vary based on the demands of your job, as well as their resources, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
8. Office Equipment and Technology
In this digital age, it almost seems like a given that an office job will come with the use of a computer.
However, you should be sure to check in before your first day to find out if this is indeed the case, as well as what kind of computer you’ll get and whether you can take it home for personal use. Some companies default to a more basic model, but will provide you with more high-tech equipment if you ask.
9. Tuition Reimbursement
Have you thought about pursuing a graduate degree in your current field? Are there specific certificates or qualifications you’d like to obtain to improve your earning potential?
You might be able to negotiate tuition reimbursement or some other kind of educational stipend. After all, a company that invests in its employees’ professional development will see benefits to the business as well as the people.
It’s understandable to feel nervous about negotiating a job offer, especially when you are so excited that you want to say yes. But if you go into the process prepared, clearly envisioning what you want to come away with, you will have a better shot at getting exactly what you want.