Creative Job Offers that Work for Everyone

By Tilda Bostwick, MFINZ, Execucare

Professional development, extra holidays and a mobile? Value yourself and get creative about your salary package. Whether going for a new job or feeling underpaid in your current role, similar principles apply for negotiating a salary; do your research, assess your skills, abilities and accomplishments and remember that knowledge is power — especially in negotiations!

Most people dislike talking about money. Women especially tend to be at a disadvantage if the discussion is only about money. Cait Clarke, who wrote ‘Dare to Ask,’ suggests that we reframe negotiations as collaborative conversations, striving to understand each other’s motivations, positions and interests, rather than stressful win-lose, high-stakes battles.

So, here is the challenge — get creative and be prepared to brainstorm alternative ways to increase the base salary being offered. Include anything that would be of value to you. It can also be powerful to include more stakeholders than yourself i.e., your family or your team if your suggestions will make you more productive. Often, the person you are negotiating with may not have considered these alternatives.

Here are some non-cash ideas for improving a salary package:

  • Professional development - for membership fees, conferences and courses (know what you would like to attend, what is available and the costs)
  • Annual leave - consider increasing the standard four weeks to five
  • Travel costs - company car or a dedicated car park
  • Flexibility - a day working from home, glide time or a nine-day fortnight
  • Bonus - what level of income, KPIs met will you need to reach to warrant an agreed bonus, usually an agreed sum, not percentage of income raised
  • KiwiSaver
  • Equipment - laptop and mobile phone
  • Move the annual review to six, or even three, months if key results can be achieved in that time

If you are accepting a new role your power is highest at the point when you receive a firm job offer. Negotiating in a prepared, professional manner can increase both the employer’s interest in you and your power. Yes, candidates who are demanding or who communicate mistrust can actually begin to erode an employer’s interest and their own power. But the aim is that negotiations establish a positive base for a long-term productive relationship.
If you are going through an agency, they will assist you to negotiate the offer. We once negotiated a salary on behalf of a candidate who said that the salary on offer was the same as her current one and that she would need $5k to move. She held out for this knowing that she was their first choice. The client did not want to lose her and go through another recruitment process just for $5k so she got what she asked for. The same applies if you are negotiating a pay increase; it's more expensive to hire a new person than to pay you a realistic and fair increase. So be confident.

Here are some tips for navigating the whole process:

· 1. Obtain the offer:
Once you have the offer in writing ask for time to evaluate and consider it. Legally the employer is required to give you time to consider the offer and to get advice. Often we don't take the time to negotiate, worried that it will end in a stalemate and that the job will be lost.

2. Analyse and collect missing information from the employer:
Make sure that you have all of the information about the role you need to make an informed decision. Clarify other aspects of the offer including benefits.

3. Evaluate and determine your goals, tradeoffs and walk away point. Do your research in the following areas:

a) External benchmarking: Research the market rates for the role (ask HR people, people in the industry, get a copy of the FINZ/Execucare Salary Survey, ask Execucare).
b) Internal benchmarking: Check where you should be in the pay band by doing a thorough assessment of your skills, experience, ability and write out an accomplishments list.
c) Know thyself: In order to negotiate you have to know your criteria for compensation and benefits: e.g., what base salary and package would you like and what is the minimum you would accept. To compare the offer with your expectations, make a list of your career goals, travel requirements, salary and any benefits that you want.

4. Negotiate (in person), obtain or propose a counter offer:
• Confirm items of agreement first.
• Address each item to be discussed with the most important first, usually salary.
• Anticipate any objections and have answers to them that are professional and fact-based where possible. Use your accomplishment list.
• Be transparent about the research you've done and how you came up with the figures or information.
• Be prepared to accept other improvements to your package and brainstorm the possibilities with them.
• For pay increases, lay the groundwork and pick your timing. Think in advance how long you're willing to wait for the pay rise and what you are prepared to do if it's rejected.

In conclusion, offering creative suggestions as part of salary negotiations means that you will be seen as a constructive problem solver and a great negotiator. Accept that there will be some stress in this process, but when you have done your research, are well informed and clear about your goals and any compromises you will make, then the process should be calm and smooth. Prepare and practice!

Tilda Bostwick is a recruitment consultant for Execucare, who specialise in NFP recruitment. She will be presenting a Table Talk at the FINZ 2015 Conference this May in Wellington about creative negotiations. Learn more about the conference at

Creative Job Offers that Work for Everyone



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