Changing Careers? How to Negotiate for Income and Benefits

Most young American workers will change jobs about four times before they reach the age of 32, according to a LinkedIn study. Workers who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s are also changing jobs and careers more frequently.

If you’re preparing to move on to a new company or career, it’s time to rethink what you’re looking for in a job offer. Rather than assuming that a bigger salary will make you happy, think about your ideal employment package—including benefits and workplace perks—and be ready to campaign for it.

To start the negotiating process for your desired salary and benefits, consider these four tips.

  1. Consider the perks and/or benefits that are most valuable to you as an employee. While salary is arguably the most crucial element of a job offer, it’s probably not the only important part of your employment package. For many workers, a flexible schedule or the ability to work remotely may be important as well. Before you begin negotiating, think about the perks that matter most to you: a hiring bonus, health insurance, certain job title, vacation time, relocation costs, flexible scheduling, etc. Even if your hiring manager is unable to raise your salary offer, he or she may be able to throw in some attractive perks or benefits that will increase the value of your total package.
  2. Factor in your retirement savings. In many cases, a strong retirement package can be just as beneficial as a high salary. Two elements that will certainly affect your ability to save for retirement in your new position include: your new employer’s 401(k) match policy and when you will be vested in the new company. Determine whether you can roll over your old 401(k) to the new employer—and whether you would want to. If you need 401(k) or retirement planning advice, a Fifth Third Bank Investment Advisor can answer questions and help you figure out what to ask for or expect.
  3. Avoid appearing selfish or entitled. While negotiating for a job offer that will satisfy your personal desires, avoid coming off as self-centered in the process. Take time to explain why you believe you deserve the package you’re asking for—and keep in mind that you may need to demonstrate why by sharing specific successes you’ve had at former jobs or examples of how your experience is going to benefit your new company. Throughout the process, be mindful that you want to come off as the type of employee a hiring manager will be willing to go to bat for. “People are going to fight for you only if they like you,” writes Deepak Malhotra in The Harvard Business Review.
  4. Be willing to compromise. Rarely does anyone win every single thing they want in a negotiation. Try to establish a “win-win” situation where both sides feel a sense of achievement, and try to understand the constraints that may be holding back your hiring manager from granting all your wishes. For example, he or she may be required to stick to a specific salary cap but could have the flexibility to change other things. By taking the time to understand your new employer’s perspective and demonstrating that you are willing to compromise, your negotiations may be more effective overall.

Every time you change jobs, a new opportunity to create your ideal employment package arises. In a competitive employment market, employers may be willing to work with you to create the right package, so take time to discuss your needs in a respectful way. When you have a salary and benefits package that meets your needs, you will be more likely to feel satisfied with your job—and who knows, you may decide not to move on to the next one for awhile.

During your career change or other life transitions, Fifth Third Bank offers focused information for retirement planning and individual financial solutions. For more smart money management tips, visit the Fifth Third Insights & Education Center.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank and are solely the opinions of the author. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services by Fifth Third Bank or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, and are provided without any warranty whatsoever. Deposit and credit products provided by Fifth Third Bank.