When people negotiate the terms of a new job offer, one of the mistakes that is often made is being overly focused on salary. While salary is certainly an important component of any compensation package, there are many other questions about benefits that should be considered.
Benefits Are An Important Part of Your Total Package
It's important to understand that you should be looking at the 'total offer' of any job that you are considering, not just the salary. Depending on the job that you are interviewing for benefits can make up a significant component of the overall job offer.
Benefits questions that you should get answered as part of the interview process include...
What sort of medical benefits does the employer offer?
What sort of dental benefits are available?
How much paid vacation will you get?
Does the employer offer an investment savings program?
Will stock options be part of your package?
Is there an allowance for maternity/paternity leave?
Is there a training allowance for developing new skills?
These are just a few of the benefits questions that you should ask to get a clear understanding of the compensation package that the employer is offering. If you are in the fortunate position of comparing a number of different job offers, you need to weigh the overall 'package' versus just comparing salary. Some of the benefits above are worth a signifcant amount of money if you have to pay out of your own pocket, so ensure that you are comparing apples to apples.
In Some Cases Benefits May Be Negotiable
It may be that you are joining a company that has a fixed benefits package, which may make it difficult to negotiate, however in many cases if you have done a good job of convincing the employer that you are the right candidate it's worth discussing.
Some additional benefits questions you might want to try to negotiate on are...
Is there a signing bonus for the role?
While it might not be company policy to offer a signing bonus, if there is a strong demand to fill a role quickly, the right candidate might be in a position to ask for a signing bonus. This increases in likelihood if the candidate has multiple offers or is being asked to move from an existing job.
Is their relocation assistance provided?
If taking the role requires that you incur costs to move, then it is perfectly appropriate to ask for a relocation allowance. This could cover things like the travel expense, additional gas if you are commuting, shipping of your goods to a new home, temporary accomodation etc.