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

Your compensation package includes more than pay—it’s possible to negotiate for valuable perks.

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

You’ve done the research, brushed up your skills and made the business case for getting more pay than you currently do. But there may come a time when your employer won’t budge on the pay it’s offering. If you’re negotiating a new job offer and aren’t prepared to walk away, you’ll have to be flexible and consider negotiating on one or more of these other points.

Job title

Sprucing up your job title can strengthen your resume, says Jason Carney of WorkSmart Systems Inc. “‘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.

More time off

One of the most popular things to negotiate for is more time off, says Mike Zaremski, accounting and finance division president of Windsor Resources. Employers would much rather budge on that rather than on things such as 401(k) matches, which are harder to customize for individual employees.

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 for a tax director, but was looking to pay about 15 percent 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 a work life balance and were able to fill the job quickly.”

Equipment upgrades

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, 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, 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 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, director of marketing at Work Compass. “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.”