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Want to work from home? 6 smart ways to negotiate non-salary benefits

From timing to considering your boss’ personality, this is what you should know before making your big pitch.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski.
Know Your Value founder and "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski.Miller Hawkins

A great salary is obviously a huge plus for any employee. But non-salary benefits, including the option to work remotely, tuition reimbursement, an awesome job title and extra vacation days can also make a job offer much sweeter.

When it comes to asking your boss for such benefits, it’s important to know your value and ask for what you deserve. Timing, how you make your big pitch and considering your boss’ personality also matter. Know Your Value spoke to career experts to get the best tips on negotiating — and what tactics to avoid.

Seek out companies known for non-salary benefits

Make sure you do your homework before applying. FlexJobs lists the 100 top companies for remote jobs each year. Also look into company review websites like Glassdoor, which offers a window into what current and former employees say about the benefits they receive.

If you’re unsure about whether a company offers good non-salary benefits, you can tap your own professional network to see if anyone can provide insight based on their current or past work experience

Wait for the job offer

The first rule of thumb is to hold off on asking for non-salary benefits until an offer has been presented to you.

“It’s a good idea to wait until you have a job offer in hand because your bargaining power increases at that point,” said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs.

“Since the company has decided they want to hire you, they are more than likely to work with you on accommodating your benefit needs,” added Michelle Armer, chief people officer at CareerBuilder. “If you need to offer reasoning behind why you want those extra three days of vacation time, a good way to back it up is to tell your potential employer it’s what you’re receiving at your current job.”

Time it right

If you’re asking for certain non-salary benefits at a job that you’ve been at for some time, you’ll want to bring up the conversation during an annual review or a performance check-in. “This is when you normally discuss everything you have contributed to the company and will help better your chances of getting those extra vacation days,” Armer said.

Come prepared

Treat a conversation about non-salary benefits the same as you would when asking for a raise. This could mean asking colleagues about some of the benefits they receive and advice about how they approached the conversation with their manager.

“Find out who else on your team or within the company has the benefit you're seeking,” Reynolds said. “If possible, ask them how they got access to it and what they'd recommend you do as you approach the topic with your manager.”

To remain even-keeled during your conversation, it’s also helpful to practice your request out loud. Consider sharing your script with others for their input before your big meeting.

Focus on business impact over emotions

When asking for certain job perks, explain your experiences with some of these benefits in the past and why it has made you more productive or effective. For example, if you want to work from home one day each week, you can explain why it’s a good business decision and will allow you to get more in-depth work done, Armer said. Lean on examples from your previous experience.

“Trying to keep your talking points focused on the professional reasons why this benefit is a good idea for you can help you control your emotions, rather than focusing on the personal needs this benefit may fit,” Reynolds said. She added that there’s an exception: “Depending on your relationship with your manager or your employer, the personal or emotional reasons for requesting this benefit may be totally appropriate to discuss,” she said. “This is something to consider in-depth before you have the conversation.”

Don’t take it personally

In some cases, a company may not be able to honor a request. Remember that this is a reflection on an organization’s work culture, not on your value as an employee.

“It is important to remember that whether or not a company decides to accommodate your requests, it never has to do with you personally,” Armer said. “Some companies don’t allow any flexibility when it comes to benefits.”

With that said, don’t be afraid to follow up and remain persistent. If it’s a new job offer, follow up a few days later, Armer said. If you’re negotiating at your current job, Armer recommended waiting two weeks before sending a follow up.