Negotiating for job benefits

By Stephanie Sanborn, InfoWorld |  Career

Landing a new job with a benefits package that fits your needs can be just as
important as scoring a higher salary. To get those benefits, be ready to negotiate,
says Jeff Kaye, president and chief operating officer of Kaye-Bassman
International/MRI, a recruitment company in Dallas.

Country club memberships, sabbaticals, and company-financed apartments near the
office: Employee benefits have come to include much more than a profit sharing plan and
access to the office gym. Many companies will be flexible with benefits as an
alternative to losing valuable tech talent to competitors. Jeff Kaye, president and COO
of Kaye-Bassman International/MRI, a recruitment company in Dallas, offers tips to help
you leave the benefits bargaining table satisfied.

1. List important benefits

Before negotiating, outline the benefits you want as part of your compensation
package, then choose a few essentials. If you are weighing multiple job offers, review
the total package. "Think of all the components and intricacies of the compensation
package and compare the whole situation to others so you truly have an apples-to-apples
kind of comparison," Kaye says.

2. Do your research

Go online to uncover industry-standard benefits. Having examples of competitors'
compensation packages can help infuse your own wish list with a bit of
reality. "Research makes sure you're not asking for anything unreasonable," explains
Kaye. "You'll be in a better position to present what you're saying with logic and
reason rather than with the emotion of the fact that you just want [the benefits]."

If the company dispenses benefits based on professional status or seniority, figure
out how close you are to the next benefit level and negotiate toward it.

3. Avoid ultimatums

"Benefits are not a negotiation that should ever become a black-and-white issue,"
explains Kaye. Approaching negotiations with a my-way-or-the-highway attitude pushes
the company into a corner and may not reflect well on the prospective or current
employee, he adds.

Present your case for unusual benefits as a business decision: You feel good about
the company and the job, but by settling a few important benefits issues, you will be
able to concentrate on your job and avoid worries about non-work-related concerns, Kaye
says.

4. Negotiate nicely

"Make sure that you're checking your ego at the door," Kaye advises. Flexibility is
key. Benefits can often be renegotiated after proving your worth in the corporate
environment. In that case, negotiate for a performance review date earlier than usually
scheduled, at which point the benefit issues could be negotiated again, Kaye says.

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