6 things to negotiate when an employer won't budge on pay

When you receive a job offer or a promotion, your compensation package includes more than just your salary—it’s possible to negotiate other valuable perks, if you know how to ask.

6 things to negotiate when an employer won't budge on pay

There's a lot more than salary to negotiatie with a job offer.

What kind of compensation are you looking for? Before you answer this common interview question, you should know that the best reply includes more than just salary. Whether you’re evaluating a new job offer, just received a promotion at work, or are vying for a raise, it’s important to look beyond the dollar sign when negotiating.

According to a recent Monster poll, 67% of respondents were not able to negotiate salary in their current position. There are different factors that can impact why an employer just won’t budge on pay, and if you really don’t want to concede or walk away from an otherwise great offer you’ll have to be flexible and consider negotiating on one or more these six perks and benefits.

More time off

One of the most popular things to negotiate for is more time off, says Mike Zaremski, president and CEO at PM Human Capital Solutions in New York City. In fact, a recent Monster poll revealed that 54% of respondents opened negotiations for more paid time off. That's up from 48% in a 2018 Monster poll. Of the respondents who did vie for more vacation time, 22% said they received more paid time off. That’s because employers would much rather be flexible on that rather than on things such as 401(k) matches, which are harder to customize for individual employees.

Job title

Sprucing up your job title can strengthen your resume, says Jason Carney, the Human Resources Director at WorkSmart Systems Inc in Indianapolis. “‘Receptionist’ may not sound glamorous, but ‘corporate executive assistant’ has a nice ring to it, don't you think?” Have a couple of suggestions ready when you’re in negotiations and be sure you can back up the title by showing the extra value you bring to the position, especially if others share your position.

Allowances and reimbursements

Clothing allowances, transportation reimbursements, and other subsidies can help take the edge off the unavoidable expenses related to doing your job. “If you're a young professional, the office wardrobe can be very expensive, especially if the company attire is business formal,” Carney says.

Flexible schedule

Hoping to work from home part of the time or work flexible hours? Now is the time to ask. Zaremski says he was working with an employer who was looking to pay about 15% below market. “This was going to be tough, but they decided to offer candidates the ability to work remotely two days a week, and by doing so, they greatly enhanced the appeal to candidates seeking work-life balance and were able to fill the job quickly.”

Equipment upgrades

Still working off of a computer that takes up half of your desk, has a few keys missing from the keyboard, and some outdated software programs that take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to load? Compared to a raise, an investment in new technology might seem more affordable to an employer. If your position requires certain software or that you must be on call at all times, your employer may be open to providing you with upgrades and a company cell phone, says Stacia Pierce, an Orlando, Florida–based career expert and CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.

Training and education

Getting your employer to invest in your education can be a good way to augment your salary. Negotiate having your employer pay for you to attend workshops, seminars or trainings, online classes, or to provide education reimbursements. “Requesting opportunities for advancement signals your dedication to doing well and grow professionally within the company,” Pierce says.

More negotiation tips

If you don’t ask, you don’t get, says Toronto-based career coach Day Merrill of 2BDetermined. Here are some tips for negotiating for things besides salary:

  • Consider your needs and wants well in advance, and figure out how to balance them, so you won't be tempted to accept an offer that doesn't meet your requirements, Merrill says.
  • If you’re negotiating as a new hire, remember your bargaining power is at its peak after the offer is made and before you accept it, Merrill says. At this point, the company is convinced you’re the one they want for the job, so they may be more flexible.
  • If you’re negotiating as a long-term employee, understand that fear of losing something is a bigger human motivator than the possibility of gaining something, says Alan O'Rourke, growth marketer at OpenJaw Technologies in Ireland. “When you are negotiating with your boss, you must allay all fears that the manager will be losing a resource.”
  • “Everyone can negotiate something,” Merrill says, whether it’s the start date or some unpaid vacation to attend a planned family event later in the year. “Start with the assumption that everything is negotiable. It's not, but you'll find out soon enough where the give is.”

Know what to ask for

Negotiating is naturally challenging, but especially when you're not sure what's on the table. If you pull the trigger too soon, you could lose out and not even know it. Want to know how to talk your way into a sweet job package? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you’ll get interview insights, negotiating tactics, and useful career advice sent directly to your inbox. Don't sign on the dotted line without learning what to ask for and how to ask for it.