By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs
If your job performance has met or even exceeded expectations, you can expect a decent pay increase, right?
Maybe not. With slow job growth, employers may think twice about doling out generous bonuses -- or even handing over slightly-less-than-stingy merit increases, according to Steven Gross, a senior human resources consultant at Mercer, a global provider of investment and outsourcing services.
Flexibility Pays Off
Even if you think you're likely to get that increase, it doesn't hurt to consider whether perquisites -- like better opportunities for career advancement or improved work-life balance -- are more important than the cash. For many people, they are worth their weight in gold.
In a 2006 survey of 10,000 US workers, human resources consulting firm Hudson found that slightly less than half considered money their biggest consideration. Others valued perks such as healthcare benefits, better retirement benefits and a better work-life balance over extra pay.
Health and retirement benefits are usually not negotiable after you've gotten the job, although it doesn't hurt to ask. Other perquisites are routinely given, in addition to, or in lieu of, pay increases. These include:
Four Negotiation Tips
Once you've decided what you really value, you need to know how and when to ask for it. A few tips:
- Be Honest: "If money is most important to you, speak up," said Robert Morgan, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson. "If you can't get the money you want, then ask for other things that don't cost the company anything."
- Be Realistic: If you are a cop, a firefighter or a nurse, it's not likely you could do your job at home. But if you're an IT professional, telecommuting makes sense for you and the company. Likewise, if you're an accountant who wants an MBA, your company isn't likely to pay for it. However, you can make a case that coughing up dough for one management class is a win-win.
- Don't Wait to Ask: "With career development, you should have ongoing conversations with your supervisor about where you want to go and how to get there, so that your needs are not a surprise at review time," Morgan said. Gross added that, in terms of work-life balance, it's crucial to ask for what you need, such as time off to care for an ailing family member, as soon as the issue arises.
- Have a Flexible Plan: Gross explained that flexibility will make you look good, and can even work out to your benefit. "If career advancement is important to you, there may be some lateral moves that would work out for you and the company. You could even consider volunteering to take an assignment that you wouldn't ordinarily consider if it will get you to your goal."
The bottom line: As long as you're asking for something that doesn't cost a lot and won't disrupt business, you stand a good chance of getting it.
"Companies want to keep their best people, even in a time of slow job growth," said Gross. "So ask for what you want. If you don't ask, you won't receive."