This is part one for July’s theme of getting the most out of your career!
When I look around and read about negotiation, I typically only see advice about negotiating your salary. This is very important, of course – I’ll be writing about it soon myself! But there are other things that are negotiable when you’re choosing an employer, and you should make sure to ask for them.
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As the world starts to change, employees want to have a better work-life blend. We don’t want to be chained to our desks all day, everyday. We want our lives to be flexible and fulfilling, and employers are beginning to change their policies to accommodate that. However, if you are offered a job by an employer that does not yet have these policies, you may have to ask for them yourself. That’s really the only way things change anyway; we have to demand it. So here are a few things you might be able to get if you ask for them.
More Paid Time Off
I have been fortunate to work for a company that has very generous time off, but I’ve seen many other people struggle with the opposite experience. It actually never occurred to me that time off could be negotiable until I saw a friend do it. When my friend (and former co-worker) decided to change jobs, she was okay with taking a slight pay cut. However, she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of losing 1-2 weeks of vacation each year. When she was offered her new job, she told them she wanted one more week off than they offered. They agreed! If an employer really wants you, they’ll often give you what you want (within reason).
But once you get those extra vacation days, don’t forget to actually use them! Half of Americans leave their vacation days unused because they worry they’ll lose their jobs if they take time off. That’s truly unacceptable. Make it very clear to your new employer that you will be using the days allotted to you. If they balk at you, they may not be the right fit after all.
Flexible Work Schedule
I’ve struggled my entire life with getting up early. I could barely do it in high school, I flat out refused in college, and now as a “real adult”, I still have a hard time getting to work on time. I’ve always considered it a personal failing, but it turns out, it might just be my genes! Not only do our genes make it harder or easier to get up early, but they also determine when we’re the most productive. Some people are useless before 11am, others get the most done in the middle of the night. If you are the type of person who isn’t the most productive during the typical 9-5 workday, see if your employer offers flexible schedule options.
In this day and age, many of us do not need to physically be in our office to do our work. Luckily, companies are becoming more and more likely to offer a telework option. Even my rigid workplace allows us to work from home if we need to. Teleworking offers freedom and flexibility when we need it. Some people negotiate for one telework day per week. I personally would love to be able to telework during summer months, so that I can visit my family for a week or two. It would be nice to be able to spend time with my family, while still getting work done.
This item is something that people often forget to ask about, but it’s SO important! Professional development can come in the form of conferences, classes, certifications, and more. These are the types of things that might not cost your employer very much, but can make a world of difference for you. Employer-paid professional development allows you to get relevant experience and add to your resume without worrying about the cost. It can also make you a happier employee, which is good for your company in the long run! So, ask your potential employer what their professional development budget is. If they don’t have one, negotiate for that to be part of your contract. Lay out a certain amount of conferences you want to attend a year, or which certifications you’d like to get.
According to The Hartford’s Millennial Leadership Survey, the number one thing employers can do to demonstrate their investment in a young person becoming a leader is to train and develop their skills, including using coaching and mentoring. Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey also found that those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor, than not. Those are pretty compelling numbers.
Both mentors and mentees benefit from mentoring relationships. Mentors are sharing their wisdom and getting a sense of impact, while mentees are learning and able to ask for advice. So when you’re interviewing for a job, ask if there is a mentorship program. If they don’t have one, ask if they would support you (either financially or by allowing you to take time off) seeking out your own mentor. And make sure your mentor is someone who will actually be able to help you. Just because someone is older than you doesn’t mean they’re a good fit.
Don’t know where to start? Check out The Mentor Method, a social enterprise that provides curated mentor matches, connecting the next generation of tech leaders with change-making mentors at the top of their game.
Timed Pay Increase
If you have trouble negotiating these things at hiring time, there’s still hope! One thing you can ask for in your contract is to have a performance review and subsequent raise down the line. This can work! My boyfriend negotiated a $3,000 raise 3 months into one of his old jobs. They weren’t able to give him the starting salary he wanted, so he asked to get a pay increase after the 3-month probationary period if he’d performed well. The employer agreed and he got the raise!
The moral of this article is that you never know what you’ll get unless you ask. Employers are not inclined to offer extra benefits on their own; you have you advocate for yourself. Good luck!
What have you negotiated in your career? Did you succeed? Share in the comments!