3 Things You Didn't Know You Could Negotiate (And Why You Should)

by Aubrey Bach

Things You Didn't Know You Could Negotiate

One of the biggest problems with most of the salary negotiation advice out there is that they focus too much on salary. The truth is, salary negotiation is about much more than just your base pay. In fact, if you just focus on salary during a negotiation, you might be doing yourself more harm than good. If you think outside the box, or, in this case, your paycheck, you can impact your long-term earning potential pretty significantly. Before you walk into your next salary negotiation, make sure to think about things like time off, educational opportunities, and your review schedule.

Paid Time Off

The time you spend away from work can be just as valuable as the time you spend in the office. Time off lets you recharge, grow, and take care of your life outside of work. It's also a prime area for negotiation – even when payroll budgets are tight, many employers can still be flexible with paid time off (PTO).
Official rules on PTO should be included in all formal written job offers, and you should never accept a job until you receive these details in writing. Make sure to find out if time off is grouped into different categories (vacation time, personal days, sick time, etc.) or if it is all bucketed together. Make sure you've used PayScale and other data sources to find out if the PTO in your job offer is competitive with similar companies.
If you are currently employed but want to ask for more PTO, you can negotiate vacation time at the same time that you negotiate a pay raise and/or a promotion.
Finally, you can negotiate extended periods of leave as well. If you are considering a new job offer, make sure that you get the employer's policy on parental leave and sabbaticals (either paid or unpaid) in writing. If you want to see how similar employers handle parental leave, check out this list from FairyGodboss.com.

Educational Opportunities

The fastest way to increase your market worth is to learn new skills. So education, whether it's in the form of a degree, a certification course, specialized training on a crucial skill, or even training on a soft skill, like leadership or people management, not only saves you the cost of tuition, but will give you more bargaining power at your next review.
If your employer currently has a structured program for continuing education, take advantage of it! Talk to your manager or a mentor in your company about the best way to use it so you can target skills that will immediately increase your earning potential. If there isn't a formal education benefit, you can negotiate! Come to your manager or HR manager with a detailed plan about the courses you want to take, a summary of what you will learn, the reasons why it will benefit your company, and the total cost and time commitment it requires. Just like any other negotiation, preparation is key.

Review Schedules

Many people are surprised to find out that you can negotiate your review schedule, but this often-overlooked benefit can put your career progression, and your corresponding earning potential, on hyper speed. At most companies, employees are formally eligible for promotions and salary increases once a year, usually during the annual review period. Before you accept a job offer, always make sure to find out when that happens and ask how the company handles off-cycle reviews. If you are thinking of accepting a job for which you are overqualified, or if the hiring manager has communicated that they are completely maxed out on the monetary terms of your compensation package, ask for a review after three or six months where you can revisit compensation based on performance.
This strategy doesn't just give you the opportunity to renegotiate your compensation; it shows your new boss that you are a driven, goal-oriented person and you are confident in your skills. It also allows you to grow your career at an exponential rate.

The world of salary negotiation is so much bigger than just salary. Sure, it can feel a little overwhelming, but knowledge is power, and thanks to PayScale, you've got the upper hand. Remember that these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to negotiating benefits though; so make sure you cover all your bases before your next salary negotiation. Your savings account will thank you.


About the Author
Aubrey Bach is the Senior Editorial Manager at PayScale.com and writes for PayScale about salary, pay equity, higher education and career strategy. She leads salary negotiation workshops around the country. She is a recovering Diet Coke addict who grew up on the mean streets of Orange County, California, but since coming to Seattle in 2007 has embraced everything the city has to offer (except, of course, the weather).