The worst thing that can happen is that your employer says no.
But you never know unless you ask.
Compensation means much more than a paycheck. These days,
employees expect money in addition to complete insurance
coverage (including health, life, and disability) and a savings
or retirement plan, too. And when employers won't budge on
price, workers negotiate what HR reps call "creative
compensation" - that is, perks, niceties, and other amenities
that make life more convenient.
If you're about to sit down at the negotiating table (either
to ask your boss for a raise or to negotiate a salary with a
potential employer) you should know all of your compensation
options. If your employer won't raise your salary, you can
bargain for non-monetary concessions. Consider playing one or
more of these cards:
Your employer's hands might be tied in raising your salary,
but vacation time is more discretionary. Ask for more paid
vacation time. If you can't get more time, at least get the
right time - name the days you want to be on vacation. Most
entry-level employees are expected to take off when it's
convenient for the higher-ups, but if you name your dates up
front (or explain that you have long-standing plans to be
away) you could win that time off.
Many employers are paying workers a stipend for commuting
expenses, whether it be for public transportation, parking
fees, or gas. Before you go to your meeting, tally your
commuting expenses for a typical month, or by year. Your
employer may reimburse you for part of your expenses.
Large companies usually have a set policy regarding tuition
reimbursement. If you work for a smaller company, however,
there might not be an official policy, or it may be applied
on a case-by-case basis. If further education is going to
help you do your job better, your boss might be eager to send
you to class. This can save you a bundle and make you a more
marketable worker, too.
If your job requires you to be on the road, it may be
perfectly reasonable to request a company car or car
allowance. Life without car payments and auto insurance is a
Some people just aren't cut out for the nine-to-five life.
If you're a morning person, your boss might be willing to
adjust your time card so that you can work from, say, seven
to three; or if you're juices get flowing later in the day,
from 10:30 to 6:30. It might even be to your boss' advantage
to let you work during your most productive hours. Remember,
though, that flextime works only if your coworkers are not
dependent on you being in the office during certain times.
Like flextime, telecommuting is a way to make your schedule
more convenient for you. If you're not needed physically in
the office, you could work from home part of the day or a
couple days each week.
If you are negotiating a salary for a new job in another
city or state and will have to relocate, definitely hit your
employer up for moving expenses. Before you ask for an
allowance or reimbursement, gather an idea of how much the
move is going to cost you.
Stock options are quickly becoming a standard part of
companies' benefits packages and bonus systems. But at many
companies they're still a bargaining chip, and (just like
vacation time) can be more discretionary than a salary.
One last note: You're obviously trying to better your
position during your compensation negotiation, but be fair,
because no one will bargain with someone who is being greedy
or unreasonable. Follow that rule and the worst thing that
can happen is that your employer says no. But you never know
unless you ask.