And a polished look doesn’t end with your wardrobe: In some industries, such as advertising, the way your office is decorated is just as much a reflection on your employer as your personal appearance. Cohen says this benefit is fairly common if clients visit often or your office is considered an extension of your brand.
Don’t underestimate how far a company may go to make their top employees happy: “I once got $10,000 added to my salary to fly to see my boyfriend every other weekend,” says Meredith Andrews*, 44, who’d agreed to take a job in another state.
How to Get It: As with other negotiations, lobbying for lifestyle perks requires a strategy. Start with a clear idea of what you want and why you want it (to impress clients? to feel more comfortable and thus more satisfied at work?). Each employee is different, so make a personal case to show how a lifestyle improvement will help you be more effective at work. Be able to rationally defend your requests, but compromise on items that don’t rank at the top of your list.
For example, in the case of a wardrobe benefit, this is a perk you’re most likely to get if you work for an apparel manufacturer or another business in the fashion, design or entertainment industry. But remember how important it is to negotiate extras that have a direct bearing on your position: Asking for a wardrobe allowance in a field that doesn’t place a high value on appearance could indicate you don’t understand industry standards or know what’s appropriate to request.
5. Severance Pay
Maybe you’re recruited away from a stable, corporate job to take a leadership role at a thriving startup. While the challenge can be exciting, there are inherent risks: If the startup fails or you don’t fit in with the small company culture, you could wind up on the job hunt again. Before taking the leap, consider negotiating a guaranteed severance package and outplacement services.
While a severance package is a valuable benefit in any industry, it’s especially worth pursuing if you’re considering a company or industry that is experiencing a downturn or other instability. “In the event that your position is eliminated through no fault of yours, this is a payment to ease in the transition and to provide job search support,” Cohen says.
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Several of Cohen’s clients have successfully negotiated enhanced severance packages, both prior to joining the company and during their employments at their annual reviews. “It is relatively easy to negotiate: Severance costs the company absolutely nothing if it is never exercised,” he says. “But the benefits of feeling safe and secure are infinite.”
How to Get It: If you are a prospective employee being offered a new job, start by explaining that leaving your current company to join a new one is a risk for you. Present in detail the severance package you’d like to include in your contract (such as three months’ pay), and remind your employer (tactfully) that this agreement is free to them if they keep you on board.
If you are a highly valued employee working in an unstable situation, point out that in light of industry or company hardships, you feel you need this insurance policy.
6. Stock Options
Feeling a sense of ownership is an important aspect of any professional culture—and especially in high-tech startups. “I would never even consider working somewhere unless I had some skin in the game,” Christensen says.