Where can you sweeten that IT job offer? Recruiters share advice on 5 areas where you have power to negotiate
Negotiating is always about leverage – understanding where you have it and using it appropriately. That’s especially true when it comes to negotiating benefits for a job. “When there’s high demand to fill a role, in general you should have more leverage negotiating because of the immediate need to identify top talent,” says Vicki Salemi, a former recruiter and career expert for Monster. “And, as IT leadership roles continue to grow in importance – especially in the C-suite – it’s important to know your worth and negotiate accordingly during the job interview process.”
While many IT professionals focus on a new role’s base compensation, health insurance, and retirement plan matching, there may be less wiggle room with those items.
However, you have more power to negotiate perks in other areas and sweeten your deal. Recruiters and other experts share five extras worth asking for before you sign on for your next post:
1. Bonuses and bumps
Once IT job seekers have negotiated their salaries, they should consider asking for a signing bonus – something that’s becoming more common. A 2017 survey by WorldatWork and Korn Ferry Hay Group found that 67 percent of organizations offer hiring bonuses. “I’ve seen senior leaders get a higher sign-on bonus and/or the timing was waived – where they otherwise would have gotten a completion bonus with a portion paid after the first 90 days, then 120 days,” says Salemi.
Salemi urges IT job seekers to find out when they are eligible for a year-end bonus, review, or raise. “This is particularly important if you start working in the fourth quarter of the company’s fiscal year and you will be excluded from the salary review process until the following year,” Salemi says. “Your increase is technically 15 months instead of 12, and sometimes those additional three months of lag are not taken into account.”
2. Flexible work options
One of the most popular benefits for IT leaders and up-and-comers is flexible and/or remote working arrangements, according to Andy Speer, president and Chief Delivery Officer with staffing and solutions provider Randstad Technologies. The opportunity to work from anywhere or anytime is one where IT leaders have significant negotiating power. “Many companies and third-party sources have written about the positive benefits of allowing employees to work when and where they want,” Speer says. “We found that 82 percent of IT employees said flexible work increases their productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction.”
Speer advises first finding out from HR what flexible or remote working arrangements are already supported and negotiate from there.
“State how much time you’ll save by commuting and, in turn, that could be time spent working from home,” advises Salemi. “You may also want to suggest a trial period if they’re not sold on the idea, set metrics or expectations with your boss, check in regularly to see how you’re meeting them, and then re-evaluate at the end of the trial run.”
3. Monetizing lost benefits
“If you have a current job and somebody wants to “pull” you into another organization, your current compensation and perks establish a baseline,” says Howard Seidel, senior partner with senior executive career advisory firm Essex Partners. “The pursuing company has to make it worthwhile for you to make a shift.” But what happens when your new firm can’t replicate the particular perks that came with your old job? You can make a case for additional compensation to make up for them.
“Sometimes non-monetary benefits and perks can be turned into monetary ones – that health club membership supplied by your current company might not be duplicated by your new company but they can change the salary offer to compensate for it,” Seidel says.
Candidates should pay particular attention to differences health coverage and costs. “A raise in compensation can be quickly be eaten up by additional health care expenditures,” says Seidel, so IT professionals should be sure to point out the differences in coverage and consider asking for additional compensation to make up the difference.
4. Professional development
Every IT pro wants to ensure their skills remain current and this is the perfect time to make sure that happens. “Explain your end goal from the get-go,” says Seidel. “Negotiate for training programs, job rotation, or a professional development budget – plus the time [required] for the continued learning. Find a way into roles that permit use of the most current systems, languages, and concepts. Also, ensure that you will have an opportunity to work on cross-divisional initiatives and forward-looking ‘think tank’ projects.”
Speer says he’s seeing many companies also offer student loan reimbursement, tuition repayment, and discounts on certification programs for continued learning. “For IT leaders who may have college debt or for those looking to learn new skills, these education benefits offer a chance for employees to gain new experiences and sharpen existing skills,” he says.
5. Paid time off
Certain perks, like additional vacation, can be easier for IT job seekers to secure from the start. “If you’re asking for an additional week of paid time off, that typically doesn’t need approval from a host of people, including the department head, finance, et cetera,” says Salemi. “Even though it’s important to you, it won’t really impact the department’s overall budget.”
If there are hard-and-fast PTO rules in place, IT professionals may be able to get around formal vacation policies with informal arrangements with their manager. “But be careful,” says Seidel, “ if that manager disappears so might that informal agreement.”
In addition to the above core perks, IT professionals can – and have – negotiated for everything from clothing allowances and car services to pet insurance and additional parental leave.
Those who want to increase the likelihood of getting to “yes” will prioritize their asks, know their worth, and make a clear case for the benefits. “Come prepared with data to back up the argument and make the business case for the addition of the benefit,” advises Speer.
But don’t ask for the kitchen sink. “Be reasonable,” says Salemi, who suggests starting with compensation-related benefits and then addressing additional items of value. “Research the company you’re pursuing to find out what they offer and then begin negotiations from that point,” says Salemi. “Don’t just ask for a $50,000 sign-on bonus without having a solid track record and insight into the industry and its compensation packages first.”
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