You’ve been brushing up on your negotiation skills in anticipation of that big job offer. But, once you land it, you’ve gotten a big surprise: The company doesn’t negotiate salary.
For a variety of reasons, there are times when a salary on a job offer isn’t open for discussion. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t score a higher-value compensation package overall, says Ted Jenkin, co-CEO and founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc., a financial planning firm that counsels clients on negotiating high-value compensation packages. You just have to be creative and know where to focus.
“Sometimes, companies have set [limits and] human resources policies. It can be easier to negotiate one-offs or things that are a little bit out of the box,” he says.
Here are six areas you might target to boost your compensation without increasing your salary.
Student Loan Repayment
Student loan debt hit more than $1.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2017 according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. If you’re writing out a check every month to a pay off your education, your future employer might be able to offer some help, says Matthew W. Burr, founder of human resources consulting firm Burr Consulting, LLC. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, 4% of companies offer student loan repayment assistance, and that number is growing.
“It’s a relatively new trend—I call it the ‘dental insurance for our generation’—but it’s going to be more relevant,” as student loan debt grows, he says. When Burr landed his first job out of graduate school, he negotiated $3,000 onto his signing bonus, which he used to pay off student loan debt.
Depending on where you work, your commuting expenses might include bus or train fare, automobile mileage, parking, tolls or others. Michael A. Wheeler, a retired professor of management practice at Harvard Business School who still teaches negotiation, advises understanding the expenses that will be involved with your new job and looking for ways to offset them. “In some instances, a company car would be nice and, in others, having some sort of discretionary budget,” he says.
Jenkin advises understanding what the real costs of traveling to and for work and being ready with that information in your negotiation. You should at least be reimbursed for mileage you drive on behalf of the company, he says. (Typically, the reimbursement rate follows IRS guidelines.)
Rewards And Stipends
According to the 2016 SHRM survey, bonuses have been on the rise over the past five years, including “spot/bonus awards, sign-on bonuses for executives and non-`executives and retention bonuses for non-executives,” according to SHRM. Fifty-six percent of organizations offer service anniversary awards, 51% offer non-executive bonus plans, and 44% offer executive incentive bonus plans. Twelve percent offer a stipend if you use your own technological devices for work. Employee referral bonuses are also on the rise. So, look for ways that you can be rewarded for benefiting or saving money for the company.
Your Next Raise
If you can’t get a salary bump right off the bat, you may be able to move up your eligibility for your first raise, Wheeler suggests. If the company does annual performance reviews, request a performance and compensation review in six months to measure your progress.
“You may be able to work out when you will be eligible for a promotion, and obviously, the sooner you’re ready for that, the sooner it happens, and the higher you’re going to go up the compensation ladder,” he says. For this to work, you need clear goals and performance metrics to prove your case that you’re adding value, he adds.
Time off and flex time might not seem like a compensation boost, but having the ability to shift your hours or work from home can cut commuting expenses and give you better work/life balance, Burr says. An extra week of vacation or a few additional holidays might also be a possibility if you’re a high-value candidate, he adds.
In addition, more companies are open to or instituting paid leave, Jenkin says. Even if having or adopting children isn’t in your immediate future, consider negotiating paid parental leave in case you need it in the future, he says.
“I think that companies are realizing that it’s totally unreasonable to do FMLA [Family Medical Leave Act] where you have 12 unpaid weeks when you have a child,” he says. So, more are willing to add that to the mix if they don’t already have a policy in place.
As companies scramble to retain great talent, striking a “win-win” agreement isn’t far-fetched, Jenkin says. So, if you plan to earn a graduate degree or want training for a skill, ask the company to invest in you, which benefits both of you. That may be tuition reimbursement or an agreement to send you to a training program once a year.
“So what [the employer] is saying to an employee is, ‘Look, I’m willing to invest in your education. If you’re willing to seek that education and help grow the revenue of the company,'” he says. If the company is going to pay for you to get your MBA, there is typically an expectation that you’ll stay with the company for period of time—typically two or three years—after you’ve completed your degree to deliver some of the benefit of that education to the company, he says.
The 2016 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey, 88% of organizations offered professional membership benefits in 2016, a 23% increase over the past 10 years, so you might also be able to negotiate professional membership dues as part of your package.
When you’re negotiating your overall compensation package, think about the areas that are most important to you and try to be creative, Jenkin says. Often, you can find ways to increase the overall value.