7 Tips to Negotiate Your Best Salary & Benefits Package
Here at Infinium, we look beyond the day-t0-day portfolio management to help you optimize your outcomes. Job change is seemingly a constant for those still working, so we thought it might make some sense to share our best thinking on how to maximize your salary and benefits through this change.
When you first receive a job offer, it can be tempting to accept the offer whole-cloth in the moment. However, above the ground level, negotiating your salary and benefits is part of your duty in finding good-fit employment. Employers expect you to haggle a little for a higher salary or specific benefits and you deserve to build a supportive employment contract during this designated negotiation time. That’s why the negotiations exist, so that you have a chance to personalize the one-size-fits-all compensation package to a set of payment and benefits that you could really build a lifestyle with.
As benefits packages become more supportive and flexible, this negotiation phase will become more about personalizing the employee experience to each professional’s style and needs. Right at this moment, however, we are balanced in a unique point where salary and benefits negotiations are both old-school power moves (low-balling and high shooting) and the cooperative package-building it should soon become.
What does it take, today, to negotiate your best possible balance of salary and personalized benefits? Lets dive into the process and winning techniques.
What It Takes to Negotiate Your Salary & Benefits
- Know Your Worth
- Research the Position and Employer
- Be Bold and Resolute
There are three very important factors when going into a salary negotiation. The first is to know your worth. This means knowing the value of someone with your skills and the actual market worth of the role you are interviewing for. Next, know the employer and the role. Do some research. Browse glass door and look into reports from others who have held the same title. Make sure you know what you’re walking into and an idea of their budget range.
The third element is important to follow through with all the rest: resolve to get the best deal you can. Be bold in speaking up, be confident in your value, and be resolute in your determination to complete successful negotiations.
1. Balancing Salary and Benefits-Value
First, consider the total value of your compensation. This is a calculation your employer will be doing so you might as well have the numbers in your mind. The total value of your healthcare, equipment, lifestyle benefits, and salary will be wrapped up in your employer’s hiring and payroll budget. At the same time, benefits and salary should always balance each other out at market value. You do not want to accept a lesser benefits package unless the salary is compensatory and vice versa. A lesser salary can be enjoyable with a cushy benefits package, but not if both are sparse.
That said, if you are working with an employer who seems to be hesitant to offer a higher salary, they may have an imbalanced hiring budget and be more willing to offer diverse benefits where salary may be lacking.
2. Know the Market Value of Your Role
The single most important number when negotiating your salary is the market value of the role – and of the responsibilities they include in the job title. Someone who does X type of work in your region and industry will typically be paid within a predictable range. Employers who offer lower than the standard market value for your role may have a tight budget or be trying to low-ball you with the initial offer. Employers who offer higher than market value may be competing for talent or may have additional responsibilities you should understand before committing.
When you are interviewing, always answer questions about your salary expectation based on the local market value for the role as you understand it. Mention the common range and that you’re aiming for the upper half of that range, whatever the range is. This keeps the conversation off of your personal income expectations, which is an outdated concern many hiring managers still have.
3. Don’t Let Past Earnings Get in the Way
In fact, several states have deemed it now illegal to ask what your previous income was in past roles. This is because basing current job compensation offers on past income can make income disparity systemic. One badly paid job could set someone on a path to be underpaid for life. Which is why you don’t let past earnings enter the conversation. If asked what you made in the past, bring the conversation back to the market value of the role. If asked what kind of compensation you expect, talk about the market value of the role.
If asked about your lifestyle, you and the interviewer should tread carefully lest they cross the EEOC protections of cultural, religious, and family details. Any questions regarding what compensation you’ve experienced or expect can just be returned to discussions on what the role is worth, or you can turn it around and ask the employer about their budget instead.
4. Getting the Best Bang for Your Benefits
With benefits becoming more diverse, you want to select the right benefits to suit your lifestyle. Why take a package with benefits that don’t offer you any value? You may need specific health coverage, but have no use for others. You may bargain for a better family or solo package depending on your current household. Modern benefits packages are also typically more flexible, with more adaptability to the individual than previous static bulk employer deals.
Negotiate for Benefits You Will Use
Which benefits in the package will you actually use? Benefits packages tend to try to cover all bases, which means that unless you have a pretty diverse lifestyle, you probably won’t need everything in the initial offering. Knowing yourself, your health matters, and your routine can really help you narrow down the benefits you will use a lot and the benefits you won’t use at all.
For example, a person living alone with perfect eyesight won’t need vision coverage. At the same time, there may be benefits on offer that could be increased or aren’t yet included in the plan. Your employer may have benefits available like professional development or a hybrid schedule that can take the place of benefits you won’t use. Ask for more of what you will use and less of what you won’t to get more benefit from your benefits.
Negotiate More Favorable Insurance Premiums and/or Deductible
Next, let’s talk insurance. There are five factors in the value of your employer-provided health insurance (and other types of coverage).
- Coverage Monetary Amount
- Coverage Breadth
- Service Network
- Monthly Premiums
- Cost Deductibles
The first is coverage amount; how much money you are covered for, should a claim be made. The second is coverage breadth; just how much you are covered for and what claims will be accepted. The third is your service network; the doctors and medical facilities available to you who accept your insurance. The fourth is how much you are expected to pay monthly for this health insurance deal. The fifth is how much you pay in deductibles each time you need a service before coverage kicks in.
Negotiate for lower premiums and lower deductibles, as these are the most likely to save you money in both the long and short term.
5. Invite Your Employer to be Frank About Budget and Package Options
One interesting and important option is to ask your hiring manager what their budget range is. Normally, employers and interviewees don’t discuss offers so bluntly, but bluntness can sometimes be the perfect tool. If the hiring manager wants to really pinpoint the salary you’re expecting, ask to work within their budget instead. Simply invite them to be frank about their budget limitations so you know what it’s safe and worthwhile to ask for.
Depending on the employer and hiring manager, this can be the right move. And when it is, you can bet that negotiations speed up.
6. Angling for More Without Blowing the Interview
How do you ask for more money than the job has offered without coming off as arrogant or demanding? The negotiation phase is something many people struggle with and pushing for a bigger paycheck or better benefits can feel pretty arrogant. Fortunately, it’s what you’re supposed to do when interviewing for a new job. Instead of feeling brash or embarrassed, look for cool, calm ways to angle for more without breaking the conversational flow.
“Looking for the Upper Range”
Instead of naming a higher number or saying you want to be highly paid, casually mention that you’re “looking for the upper range” of whatever range there might be. You might be referring to the market value range of the role as listed, or you might be indicating the hiring budget range that your employer has in mind. Either way, it’ suggests you’d like to be more highly paid and encourage employers to offer closer to their upper limit for the role.
Give Them a Good Reason, Pitch Yourself
When you ask for more, give your hiring manager a reason to say yes. Pitch your years of experience or your greatest accomplishment. Indicate you deserve the upper range because of what you bring to the table and then bring something to the table. Hiring managers often feel good about upping the offer, but they need a good reason.
7. Lead Requests with Positivity
When you’re about to ask for something, use positive language. Say things like “I love how you offer gym memberships, but I’ve got my own routine at home.” You will seem more appreciative and grateful for the initial offer if you can compliment things and give your reasons when asking to remove or replace a benefit or bring in a benefit not previously listed on the package.
As always we are happy to be your sounding board for this very important life decision. Keep in mind that a few right moves before you are hired can have a big impact on your financial well-being for years to come with you new company. Please be in touch anytime when you are facing important career decisions!
Mark is a +24 year financial advisor veteran and Certified Financial Planner™. He founded Infinium in 2009 to bring a more personal, and truly client-centric offering to investors.