Clients Negotiating Compensation? Don’t forget the perks.


By Sharon Graham.

Shifts in the Canadian economy drive our labour market and the compensation that employers are willing to offer employees. The recent recession has caused a downward pressure on salaries and benefits. As a result, negotiation has become trickier than ever.

The compensation negotiation is an inevitable part of the interview process. To secure a job offer, every candidate must be able to negotiate confidently and effectively. Yet many dread the prospect of negotiating a salary.

No doubt, your next client will encounter the question, “What is your salary expectation?” It is likely that you will advise him to postpone the discussion until after the first interview, but you cannot neglect to coach your client through the actual process of negotiating with the employer.

Clients have different needs:

  • Some are willing to accept a position for a lower salary;
  • Others are trying to maintain their standard of living; and
  • Some are ready to boost their compensation level.

Regardless of the situation, there is always common ground. The prospective employer wants to pay for their employee’s contribution and the candidate wants a reasonable offer. Even so, salary and compensation discussions can be quite challenging. Your client’s goal is to strike the best deal without over-pricing himself. Before he enters a negotiation, he must have an acceptable salary in mind. However, he also needs to know the minimum salary offer he is willing to entertain.

Due diligence is key to a strong salary negotiation. Advise your client to research compensation standards within the organization and the marketplace. The total compensation requested by your client should be reflective of his expertise, achievements, and years of experience. However, Canadian compensation structures range widely based on the region, industry, company, and position targeted.

Monetary compensation elements may include:

  • Base salary
  • Sign-on bonus
  • Annual bonus
  • Commissions / Incentive pay
  • Overtime pay
  • Probationary salary increase
  • Profit sharing plans
  • Stock options
  • Tax benefits programs
  • Pension or RRSP contribution

In many circumstances, your client can also negotiate non-monetary benefits and perquisites (perks). Remind him to determine, in advance, the “must haves” and “nice to haves”:

Non-monetary compensation and perquisites may include:

  • Healthcare benefits
  • Childcare allowance
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Company car
  • Car allowance
  • Expense allowance
  • Education benefits for family members
  • Merchandise programs
  • Discounts and preferred pricing with corporate partners
  • Gift certificates
  • Health club memberships
  • Corporate resorts and cruises
  • Relocation support, mortgage differentials
  • Individual travel and group travel programs
  • Equipment including cell phone, pager, and laptop computer
  • Professional development and training programs
  • Continuing education including MBA level studies
  • Professional association memberships
  • Flexible work hours
  • Periodic increases in compensation
  • Periodic increases in vacation time
  • Periodic enhancement of job title

Advise your client to always negotiate in a professional and ethical manner, focusing mostly on what he has to offer rather than what he wants in return. With proper etiquette, your client will reach an understanding with the employer at some point. Remember, both parties have the same goal — to close the deal.

If you prepare your clients well, they will be empowered to create positive outcomes. With due diligence everyone will leave the table ecstatic!

Do you know about any other compensation, benefits, and perks that can be added to this list? Please let me know by commenting here.

Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians. 

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