How do I negotiate better job terms?
September 29, 2005 9:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I negotiate better non-salary benefits for a new job I was just offered? Specifically, I am mostly happy with salary but want to negotiate better vacation time and a better title.

I was offered a poorly defined IT job at a manufacturing plant, and most of the offer seems in line with what I want, except the vacation time they are offering is horrible (5 days within the first year of service, and its paid time off, which is both your sick time and vacation time.) I was hoping for something more along the lines of 2 weeks vacation, 1 week personal, 1 week sick (or 20 PTO days). At the very least 2 weeks vacation and 1 week sick (or 15 PTO days). Further, I know an employee that currently works there and he said it is usually 15 days PTO, so this is really weird.

The other thing I am not happy with is my title, its listed on my offer letter as "Title (tentative):IT Assistant and Internet Representative. The problem they are having is trying to figure out what to call me. Originally the position was called Internet Sales Rep (even though the position involved no sales). They have no idea what to call it. To be frank, neither do I, but the title isn't what I'll be doing either. My primary function is as a graphic designer that coordinates with their distributors when they need images and web advertising materials. But because there isn't enough work (yet) to be a full time position, my secondary responsibility will be helping the IT manager do desktop and network support as needed (probably how they got the IT position in the title). So, any suggestions for a title, and any suggestions on how to approach the subject?

Some factors that might affect my ability to negotiate:
-They are treating me like I've accepted the offer already, even though I've only said that what they told me about the offer seemed like what I was looking for (vacation wasn't mentioned) but I'd need to see all the details before I decided to take the job.
-The person extending this offer has actually quit the company as of last week, but stayed on part time to help get me into the position. She also doesn't seem to be doing a very good job of it as I've been jerked around all week and they have changed my proposed start date because it too so long for her to get me an actual written offer.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
Have you asked? Do they know this is what you want? The easist part of negotiating is to say "Thanks for your offer. I like A and B, but I would also need C and D".

You could also tell them that you have a competing offer and list those points you want as what are offered by the other company and they would have to match it. If you do this you have to be prepared to 1. be denied and not take the job, or 2. be denied and take the job anyway. Of course, they could accept your counter and you have what you want.

Sounds like they don't have their act together so it may be difficult to negotiate. They may not understand enough of the needs of the position to know if you are worth it or not. Also a lot of organizations won't negotiate vacation etc. because they don't want to have to offer to other people who already work there the same deal you have.
posted by qwip at 10:35 PM on September 29, 2005

Corporations have done an excellent job of training everyone out of the notion that a job offer is an invitation to negotiate, not (usually) a take-it-or-leave-it deal. Candidates and HR people have lost sight of the fact, and many people would no more negotiate over a job than they would offer the Safeway cashier 80% of the total after s/he rings you up.

You can certainly haggle, but you run the risk of having the offer withdrawn. (They run the corresponding risk of having you blow them off, but both sides have been trained to believe that that risk is inconsequential.)

If you don't have an offer on their letterhead, write and thank them, say you're very interested and are looking forward to an official written offer, but would they consider adjusting the vacation (etc) parameters in recognition of (your previous experience, industry standards, etc). Do everything in writing; if they ask, say your parents taught you that job negotiations were best done on paper. (If they didn't teach you, they were negligent!)

I'd shy away from asking for all three of vacation, personal time, and medical leave. It sounds like you're triple-dipping. Just ask for the number of days you want, and point out that you consider sick time to be your problem, not the company's.

Good luck.
posted by spacewrench at 10:53 PM on September 29, 2005

I'd shy away from asking for all three of vacation, personal time, and medical leave. It sounds like you're triple-dipping. Just ask for the number of days you want, and point out that you consider sick time to be your problem, not the company's.

I should have explained better. I'm not trying to get "extras" out of it, its just every job I've worked for has seperated vacation time from sick days from personal days. This place does Paid Time Off, which you can use for any of the above. Not so bad for either. If you don't call in sick as much, you get more time for vacation. In return, the company gets to have advanced warning when you'll want time off (and; the extra time that people undoubtably don't actually take). All I'm looking for is the equivalent hours I'd get to having x hours of vacation time plus x hours of sick time plus x hours of personal time that I believe is fair. And at the very least, what the rest of the company is getting according to my friend who already works their (which is 5 days shy of what I believe to be ideal).
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:26 PM on September 29, 2005

I think it's fair to ask for what everyone else gets for vacation/sick time.

As for the title, make sure you get a job description and propose some alternatives.
posted by desuetude at 6:22 AM on September 30, 2005

As you plan your counteroffer, find out if you can take Unpaid time off, and decide for yourself if the offered salary will cover it. It sounds like they don't want to give you a grand title, so come up with alternatives that you can live with, like IT Coordinator, Internet Specialist, Information Technologist, etc.

Then make a counteroffer for suggested titles and either more PTO or more salary. Make it cheerful and respectful, i.e., I am so excited about coming to work with you, and here are the details that need to be resolved. You have a good chance of success, but only if you ask.
posted by theora55 at 6:42 AM on September 30, 2005

I think it's fair to ask for what everyone else gets for vacation/sick time.

Even if everyone else gets paid 30% below market average I still want to be paid what i think I'm worth. Why ask what others get? Ask for what you want.

I'd look at this as a warning sign; a place having this much issue getting someone in the door isn't going to magically be less fucked up on internal issues with existing employees.
posted by phearlez at 7:12 AM on September 30, 2005

5 days off is simply absurd for a professional position.

2 weeks vacation + sick time + holidays paid is STANDARD in the US for positions like this.

If they're not offering this, I'd say it's a bad sign..
posted by eas98 at 7:26 AM on September 30, 2005

Best answer: I think you know the answer to your own question.

You know that what you're planning on asking for is perfectly reasonable- it's not like you decided your job is suddenly worth more money. If this company is not prepared to offer you PTO in line with American standards (2 weeks vaca + 1 week sick, which is already below the rest of the Western world), then take it as a huge red flag about how they treat their employees.

Title: Media Specialist. Graphic Services Specialist. As a last resort, Technology Specialist. Avoid, if possible, having "IT" in your title, unless you want desktop support to become your primary function.
posted by mkultra at 7:43 AM on September 30, 2005

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