I just received the offer letter. The salary looks good but the vacation is only 2 weeks. I want to get at least 3 weeks. I have read somewhere that you should always include multiple items in the counter offer so you can drop them if needed. Should I still talk about more salary when I think it is already good. I need more vacation time.

Also, one really weird thing is that the medical benefits will start after 3 months of service. I have never experienced that in any of my jobs. What is a person suppose to do for 3 months who has a family?

This is a Senior Level Position.

  • 1
    I've never seen a job where benefits start right away.
    – Boumbles
    Jul 15 '14 at 19:28
  • 1
    My last two jobs benefits started after 30 days not 90 days. What should a person do for 90 days without medical benefits.
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 19:30
  • knowing the location, especially regarding the medical benefits, would be helpful Jul 15 '14 at 19:33
  • I am located in United States.
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 19:33

I've done this. The offer was acceptable in all other respects, except that it had a week less of vacation than I was looking for. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: (General excited-by-the-job stuff, then...) The amount of vacation is lower than I was expecting. Can we talk about getting another week?

Them: We can't do individual variation like that (big company, so I believe them), but we allow people to buy up to an extra week each year.

Me: Great! Then could you see your way clear to increasing the salary by $X, with the understanding that I'll be using it to buy vacation?

Them: Yes, we can do that.

This was, as noted, for a large company, and in my experience large companies can be inflexible about individual variations in benefits. A few years ago my husband interviewed at a small company that was also vacation-deficient, and he was able to negotiate directly for adding a week of vacation to the package (no salary change). I've heard of people negotiating a slightly lower salary in exchange for more vacation.

So yes you can negotiate these things. (Both cases were senior-level technical positions.) Key points:

  • Ask for what you really want. Focus on the goal and be flexible about the implementation. Don't just ask for money unless you know you can convert it to vacation time. (It'd stink to accept an offer for more money only to then find out you can't trade money for time off; make sure what matters to you is clear up front.)

  • Make the direct request first (more vacation), but be ready to fall back on salary adjustments (money and time trade off, after all).

  • if they won't give you more vacation time or more money, but they will allow you to buy time (i.e. take unpaid time), decide if that's acceptable to you.

As for health care, every full-time, permanent job I've ever had in the US has started health insurance either immediately or on the first of the following month (and in the latter case you probably have coverage from somewhere else for the rest of the current month). Legal advice is beyond the scope of this site, but if you're going to have a gap in insurance coverage you'll probably need to buy individual coverage for a few months; this might be possible through your previous employer (COBRA), or you might need to do it on your own.

  • +1 for: tell them what you really want (more vacation time) rather than muddying the waters by asking for too many differeng things, and be open to creative ways of getting it Jul 15 '14 at 20:45
  • Thanks Monica! You are always very helpful! My only concern about asking for vacation only was if they say no then I have no more things to ask. If I ask for two things then I can drop one of them. Also, If they raise my salary then I can buy vacation time. To be really honest I just want more vacation. :) For medical, I guess I will look at Obama Care.
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 20:59
  • 1
    Thanks. Sounds like you should make it clear that your goal is to get more vacation time, and you're flexible about implementation. Can they give you the week? Allow you to buy it (make sure buying vacation time is ok) and increase your salary to compensate? Allow you to buy it and not increase your salary (which is roughly neutral for them, trading money for time)? Jul 15 '14 at 21:09
  • The only thing I'd add is that the gap in insurance would be the perfect way to ask for a signing bonus.
    – It'sPete
    Jul 15 '14 at 21:55
  • @It'sPete good point. I've never negotiated a signing bonus so I don't have anything concrete to say there. (I did once negotiate a "don't leave just yet" bonus, an anecdote I can share in The Workplace Chat if asked there.) Jul 15 '14 at 22:06

Should I still talk about more salary when I think it is already good. I need more vacation time.

You should negotiate for the best deal you can get, keeping in mind that if you push hard they can drop the offer.

If you "need" more vacation time, you can ask how flexible they are on vacation. In some companies and some positions, they are willing to negotiate more weeks of vacation. In others they are not.

If you "need" more vacation time, but don't need more salary, then my suggestion would be to negotiate solely for more vacation. When I make an offer to a candidate, I'm more likely to go the extra mile for one item, than for a raft of items (assuming that the items are under my control and that the candidate is worth the extra effort).

Have a discussion with the hiring manager that starts "I'm really excited about working here! I like pretty much everything about your offer, except the vacation time..." and see where it goes from there. That's where your negotiation skills come into play.

Seeing a laundry list of counter-offers might make the hiring manager feel as if you are just playing games or are high-maintenance.

Also, one really weird thing is that the medical benefits will start after 3 months of service. I have never experienced that in any of my jobs. What is a person suppose to do for 3 months who has a family?

That is rather unusual in my experience.

You could ask the hiring manager (or whoever made the offer) what new hires usually do in this circumstance.

I would assume you would need to find and pay for your own private insurance for the 3 months, or use your spouse's benefits.

  • How would you word about getting extra vacation time? Thanks!
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 19:45
  • Also don't you think if the candidate has more items then the candidate can drop few items. If I have only one item and they say NO then negotiation is over.
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 19:49
  • @johndoe The amount that is being asked for is also something that can be dropped. i.e., ask for an extra week of vacation, be willing to drop it down to an extra 3 days.
    – David Yaw
    Jul 15 '14 at 20:14
  • Hi @JoeStrazzere By more items I mean 2 items. Salary and Vacation Time. Please note that there is always room in the first offer and most companies expect a counter offer.
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 20:23
  • In the end vacation is same as high salary since you can buy vacation? Right!!
    – john doe
    Jul 15 '14 at 20:53

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