I'm not the best negotiator. I think I know what to do, but the execution just isn't there. I think I simply lack experience. I can't remember the last time I actually was in a situation where I had to negotiate something. It was probably the new car I bought at the end of last year. My friend actually took a college-level class on negotiating. Perhaps I should look into that.
When comes to negotiating salary at a job, I'm even worse. I think my success in getting a raise is close to zero percent. I'm always told there's no budget. I'm probably a fool for believing it, because the budgets are secret. When I fail to get more money, I typically move to negotiating perks. For example, I'll ask for more vacation time. That also hasn't been successful as I've been told that's standardized for everyone by HR based on length with the company. If I had a job that had a company car, I'd certainly try to negotiate some fuel cards to go with that. However, I haven't found a company that gives software engineers company cars.
I've also had no luck negotiating when it comes to educational classes. At my first job out of college back in 1998, I wanted to take a night class on client-server architecture which was really popular and relevant to my computer science degree and programming job. Or so I thought. When it came time to approach my boss (who happened to be the very worst boss I've had, good to get that out of the way early in my career) for approval she grilled me on how the course was relevant to FoxPro for Dos. FoxPro for Dos was the outdated software that the company used. Like most outdated technologies, there are very few, if any, classes available for it. The end result was that my request was denied.
From what I gather from friends, that situation isn't the norm. It was just a combination of a terrible boss and a poor company.
I've been working from home on my business for so long that I almost forgot that "working from home" would be a negotiable benefit if I was still programming at my previous companies. Even my wife, who is in the military working for the government, gets to work from home. As long as your job has no physical requirements it should be an option at most anywhere... except for Yahoo who took the perk away. While on the topic of Yahoo, they made me quite upset by buying and shutting down the awesome Astrid to-do app. This is why you are losing users, Yahoo. You take something that is awesome and purposely destroy it. (Sorry, I got a little off-track there.)
Finally, there's the easiest thing to negotiate. It doesn't cost the company a penny... a swanky job title. Looking through my LinkedIn connections this seems to be extremely pervasive. Or maybe people just take it upon themselves to give themselves a great sounding title there.
Have you successful negotiated any job perks? If so, let me know in the comments. (And please be specific on how you do it, because I'm clearly missing something.) Also, if you know of a free to-do application that allows sharing and assigning of tasks (so my wife and I can stay on the same page), I'd love your feedback. I've been trying Wrike, but it is focused on project management which adds unnecessary complexity for what we are trying to do.
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