How to negotiate a better compensation package

How to negotiate a better compensation package

Many employees and job seekers think compensation negotiations are limited to salaries, commissions and bonuses. This thinking leaves many valuable benefits unclaimed that employers are happy to provide. Even if you’re working for or interviewing with a smaller company that can’t afford large salaries, you can still negotiate for many other benefits.

Before thinking about how to negotiate the best compensation package, take a look at some of these benefits you should try to get:

A better title

Titles can be important for your career advancement. For example, smaller businesses might not put much thought into employee titles, but larger companies definitely view the titles “coordinator,” “manager” and “director” differently, in terms of job applicant qualifications. Are you a marketing manager with a communications coordinator title? If so, ask for the correct title.

Skills training

Some companies will pay for you to improve your business skills via online learning courses, certification training, college tuition reimbursement, workshops and/or trips to conferences and trade shows. You might need to agree to reimburse the company for your training if you leave your job within one year of getting the paid training.


Ongoing advice from an experienced professional in your field can significantly help you improve your skills and make you more employable. Ask your company if they would consider assigning you to a seasoned manager to help you work your way up the company ladder with a monthly meeting.

Better resources

From software to computers to a new smartphone, companies often upgrade employee work tools if asked. See if the company will pay for trade magazine subscriptions and your professional association dues.

Parking or commuting pass

This might not be a big expense to a company or windfall for you, but bundled with the other perks you can negotiate, it can help create a much better compensation package.

More free days

If you have leverage, such as working for an employer that’s struggling but wants to keep you on board, ask for more free days, which cost the employer nothing (other than your lost work).

Flex time

You might ask to come into the office one hour earlier each day and to leave one hour earlier (if it doesn’t impact your work) so you can avoid a tough rush-hour commute 10 times a week. Or you can come in 60 minutes later and leave 60 minutes later. Either way, you’ll still be working the same number of hours each day for the company.

Working from home

You might not be able to work from home every day, but a company might let you telecommute one or two days a week to save on gas and lost commute hours. Working parents also save the cost of daycare, which can add up to a nice annual savings.

Wellness reimbursement

Healthy employees help companies reduce absenteeism, tardiness, health care costs and insurance rates. Healthy workers also improve productivity, efficiency and work quality. Ask if your employer will provide a reimbursement or split the cost of things that improve your health, such as a gym membership, visit with a registered dietitian or smoking-cessation program.

New work opportunities

Being allowed to work on projects with other departments, even as a volunteer, can help you build new skills that will eventually help you make a horizontal career shift.

How to negotiate

Follow these 4 steps before asking for a better compensation package.

  1. Research

    The first step in negotiating with any employer is to do some research outside of that company. Look at what other, similar businesses are offering in their job want ads. Ask friends who work at other companies what benefits they receive, and if any of them are getting the benefits you’re considering asking for.

  2. Ask about your ideas

    Within your own company, ask a manager you trust about your ideas before formally proposing. You can also ask to meet with your HR department, if you have one, about what might be on the table. If you have friends or LinkedIn connections at a particular company, ask them for advice about what they know of the company’s compensation practices. If possible, read the company’s policy guide or employee handbook for ideas.

  3. Write a list of the reasons

    Before you ask for any benefit, write a list of the reasons why the company should consider giving it to you, thinking from the company’s side of things. Will that new software or training course make you more productive or efficient? If so, be ready to specifically explain how it will help the company as much or more than you.

  4. Show the cost

    If possible, show the company the total cost of a trip to a conference or a new computer, then demonstrate how your increased productivity, quality and efficiency will help the company improve your work, increase customer satisfaction, reduce errors or increase sales.