Salary Negotiation Tips: Requesting an Unusual Benefit

When is the best time to ask for a perk that is out of the ordinary?

Q: After nearly a year of unemployment, I feel fortunate to have started a part-time position as a contracts manager. A former colleague created this opportunity for me with the expectation that I would bring work into the firm that I could then manage. The position is expected to grow into full time employment, but there’s no guarantee.

There are some things I like about my new job, including the flexibility and easy commute, along with the responsibility and challenge to grow the business. But there are some real red flags, too. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing with an established aerospace firm, and while nothing is certain, I have a very positive feeling about how the interviews have been going and so far, I like what I’ve experienced in the interview process. The aerospace job potentially offers long-term security, opportunity for training, good benefits, and a positive work environment. I think it would be a good opportunity, and if I were still unemployed, I’m sure I would have jumped at the chance. I am very interested in pursuing the aerospace job, but would like to negotiate for a somewhat unusual benefit. Can you suggest an appropriate way that I could feel people out about the possibility of bringing my 13-year-old border collie to work when I’m at the interview? In my last job, the dog bowl in the break room allowed me to bring up the question. I appreciate any advice you might have for me.

A: The key pivotal issue for you seems to be can you bring your dog with you to work. You ask “can you suggest an appropriate way that I could feel people out about bringing my dog to work when I met the interview?”

I wouldn’t try to put it into the interviewing process. It is an example of a benefit or perk for which you will be negotiating. You don’t want to bring up any of these items until the appropriate time. So you should lock in a firm offer, and then go on about the interviewing experience.

Bringing a dog to work is certainly a perk to negotiate. But since it is an unusual request, it’s something the employer will have to consider and discuss amongst themselves. Bringing it up or talking about it as an item of negotiation in the early stages may only put a wrench in the works. You don’t want that.

So follow the instructions in my book “Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute” and postpone a serious discussion about your dog coming to work until you know there’s an offer. When you have an offer, that’s the time to bring it up. In your case, it seems that you can bring it up with the added incentive that this will actually make the difference between closing a deal or not.

As far as working it into the conversation goes, simply say “I have an unusual request. Other employers I have worked for have allowed me this benefit. It won’t cost the company anything. In fact, if we could arrange for this one benefit, then I am almost certain we have a deal. The request is bringing my dog to work.” You’ll be able to take it from there I’m sure.