Negotiating Your Next Salary Package

So you nailed the interview! The job is a perfect next step on your ladder to success. Your new boss loves you and said HR would be calling with an offer. But before you sign the offer letter, you need to stop and realize one key thing: You’ll never have more power than you do right now. You are the perfect woman for the job and they are trying to entice you to join them. Once you’re at the company, you have less leverage because… well, you need your paycheck, right? So, this is the best time to negotiate for the things that are important to you.

Get Paid What You Are Worth

This doesn’t mean that you make exorbitant demands, but do your homework on a valid site like Salary.com to determine what others in your position are making. If the offer is low, then ask if there is any flexibility. Tell them what you need to see to take on this new role (hint, ranges are a great way to do this), and stress throughout that you really want to make this happen. HR people and hiring managers hate losing great candidates and will – if they have the flexibility in their salary range for the job – do what they can to meet you halfway.

If, in the end, the company simply can’t pay what you need, then you either need to walk away or determine what else is important to you. While salary is key, perhaps there is flexibility in some other ways:

Paid Time Off

Most companies have a standard schedule of PTO that is provided and increases based on your time with the company. But if the pay isn’t right, sometimes you can negotiate for additional time off in lieu of more cash. If you love to travel, that extra week a year of PTO may be worth just as much to you as the extra three percent of salary you had to leave on the table.

Work-Life Flexibility

While the dream job allows you to work from home whenever it’s convenient, most employers haven’t fully embraced those values. But this could be another way for you to get what is important if salary isn’t quite up to snuff. Asking for the flexibility to work a day a week from home or to shift your schedule to accommodate summer volleyball leagues or long Wednesday bike rides may allow you to feel rewarded despite the smaller paycheck.


A study by the Commonwealth Fund estimated that employees today spend $3,700 a year on health insurance premiums and deductibles (For more details, you can see the full study results HERE). You could get a major raise and see a big chunk of it eaten up by higher costs for insurance if you aren’t careful. On the flip side, maybe your new employer has a great plan and low employee contributions. You could get a 7% raise and see your take home pay go up 15% or more if you have to pay less to keep yourself covered. 

Benefits usually aren’t negotiable, but you can’t exclude the impact from your mental math. And if the new company’s costs are higher, then bring that up as a reason for asking for additional compensation with your new HR person.