Compensation Negotiations: Don’t leave money on the table

compensation negotiationCompensation negotiations are a funny and fickle thing.

Most people spend more time researching and preparing for large purchases like cars and houses.

But they spend less time on preparing for getting the compensation they will need to pay for those big ticket items.

Most people get so focused on the salary part of the compensation negotiation that they forget there’s a bigger picture at work here.

Compensation negotiations include a multitude of things, and job seekers need to be focused on the whole package.


After getting a job offer, it’s time to get into compensation negotiations.

Here are some key things to consider to maximize what you get:


  1. Salary – Before going into any salary negotiations, know your numbers. Create a sliding scale of what you are willing to accept. Ask about commissions / commission rates and how they relate to the compensation structure.
  2. Insurance – Compensation negotiations should also include having medical, dental, vision, life, and even short / long-term disability insurance. Help your bank account by getting the employer to cover more!
  3. Retirement Planning – Most of the time, compensation negotiations include retirement planning (401K) programs. As a result, inquire about pensions, stock options, or profit-sharing opportunities with your new employer – those can add up!
  4. Vacation Time / Paid Time Off (PTO) – Vacation days and sick time are slowly coalescing into a singular option known as Paid Time Off (PTO). Because of this, you can use PTO as alternative if the employer won’t budget on the actual salary.



Bonus structures are often forgotten in compensation negotiations simply because when people hear about the salary, they assume that the bonus is part of the salary level. That’s often NOT the case.

Here are some examples of the types of bonuses that could be optional:

  1. Signing bonus:  Many companies are so short-staffed that they are providing first-ever signing bonuses to attract employees.
  2. Referral bonus: If an employee refers a personal contact to the company and that person gets hired, the company provides the referrer a “finder’s fee.”
  3. Holiday bonus: Companies give their employees an extra bonus check around the holidays as a token of their appreciation and in the giving spirit.
  4. Annual bonus: A lump sum given out after the conclusion of a calendar or work year, especially if the company did well as a whole. Many employers distribute these using the philosophy that when the company does well, then so should the employees.
  5. Spot bonus: Sometimes known as the “Attaboy” bonus – these extra checks are given out on the spot as a reward an exceptional accomplishment.
  6. Performance bonus: These are issued when employees achieve their performance goals and are rewarded for their productivity and or innovation.
  7. Retention bonuses: During COVID-19 and the “Great Resignation,” a lot of companies are bleeding talent, leaving them short-staffed. It is a lot easier to hold on to current employees than start the hiring process and learning curve all over, so retention bonuses are used to get people to stay in their job.
  8. Tenure bonus: Companies sometimes offer a tenure recognition bonus to staff who hit a major employment length milestone.
Professional Development

Nurture your career via professional growth and knowledge / skill acquisition. Companies can offer the following:

  1. Tuition reimbursement
  2. Conference attendance
  3. Industry Certifications
  4. Memberships

Happy and healthy employees are productive employees, and as a result, companies are addressing this through support programs.

Warning: be more generic in asking about these offerings as being too inquisitive might come across wrong. This could make it sound like you have some major issues going on in the background!

Employee Assistance Programs
  1. Relocation assistance (financial) if moving from one area to location of job
  2. Bereavement Leave
  3. Parental / Family Leave
  4. Medical Leave
  5. Adoption assistance
  6. Flexible work
  7. Child care


There are many other things you can include in compensation negotiations. The worst thing an employer can say is “no.”

  1. Flexible spending accounts
  2. Paid time off for volunteer work
  3. Employee recognition awards
  4. Wellness program reimbursements
  5. Company-related business perks (i.e. if your company makes a product and you get free ones to take home)
  6. Dog-friendly work environment
  7. Meal plans (if the company has an onsite employee cafeteria0
  8. Gym membership


When you can take a more comprehensive view of compensation negotiations, you can find ways to add value to your life that benefit you in ways you never thought!