Last night, I was on a panel with a bunch of fine people from around the Web answering questions from students about the ins and outs of working on the Internet. There was a moment when we started discussing salary negotiations, and Alex Leo and I stressed that you should always ask for what you’re worth, and that women have a tendency to undervalue themselves.
One thing I emphasized is that the negotiating doesn’t end with your salary. If you don’t get the number you’re looking for, there are other things of value that you can negotiate with your employer. These include:
Vacation Days: In one round of negotiations, I didn’t get the salary I wanted, so I asked for additional vacation days—and got them. Vacation days are valuable! You get to not go to work, and go somewhere fun, or stay at home and catch up on TV shows—and you still get paid. The thing to remember if you ask for this is to actually take the time off. This will prevent you from burning out.
An Expense Account: I understand that not all workplaces offer this, but my last one did, and I only got it because I asked for it. I expensed taxi rides, office supplies and software I bought for work, and meals out with writers, and people who I wanted to do business with. Don’t push it though, because you’ll have a lot of explaining to do when the finance department starts auditing. And remember to keep all your receipts!
Better hours: I once had to show up for work every day by 6 a.m., which meant rising and shining at 4:30 every morning. When I got promoted, I asked to change my schedule to 8 a.m., and boy, did that make a huge difference.
Family time: Negotiate a longer period of maternity or paternity leave. When one of my former coworkers became a father, he was able to negotiate working two days a week from home so he could spend time with his baby, which truly is invaluable.
Benefits: An upgrade to your health care coverage. A better match for your company’s 401(k) plan. Stock options. There are a lot of different things you can put on the table.
Think about all the things that your workplace can actually provide you, and work them into your negotiations. If you are worth the moon, ask for the moon!