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Negotiating Incentives

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Everything is negotiable. Other installments of the negotiation clinic have dealt with base salary, bonuses, stock options, and other benefits. You can also negotiate what happens in the transition from one job to another. You can even negotiate when you’re going to negotiate.

COBRA payments
At some companies, medical insurance benefits don’t kick in on your first day of work. You might have to wait 30 or even 60 days before your new medical insurance coverage begins. Although that waiting period is fixed, you can try to get your new employer to pay your COBRA insurance from your previous job. Under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985), your employer must offer to continue your medical insurance when you leave your job, at a higher premium, for a defined period of time (at least 18 months). If there is a waiting period before your new medical insurance coverage begins, you may be able to get your new employer to pay your COBRA premium for that amount of time.

Relocation benefits
Relocation doesn't necessarily mean moving from San Diego to Dubuque. Even if you stay within the same state but add another 35 or 40 miles to your commute, some companies will offer an additional incentive for commuting time or perhaps even relocation assistance.

Then again, you may just have to move to get that dream job. What's negotiable in a relocation package? If you're at a certain level, basically all the expenses incurred in the sale and purchase of a new house might be negotiable: broker's fee; legal fees; new driver's license; phone, electric, and cable hookups; cleaning of the new residence; a service to help your spouse find a job; car allowances; and so on. Be sure you consider differences in cost of living and that your negotiated package takes that into account.

Accelerated performance review
If you can't get the salary you want up front, but the job is still attractive, you might be able to negotiate an accelerated performance review. Try asking for a review for salary in three months (as opposed to the standard six months to a year) to get more money faster.

- Linda Jenkins, contributor

Jan 2007
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