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I am considering two job offers for entry level positions straight out of college. They are essentially the same salary, but one of them has a more convenient location (company A), while the other (company B) would require a car and longer commute. I am therefore leaning toward company A.

However, company B offered 15 days PTO (Paid time off), while company A offered only 10. Company A is a medium sized company (~2000 employees), and company B is large. Vacation time is very important to me since where I am living and will be working is across the country from any of my family.

Is it safe to negotiate with company A so that I could have 15 days PTO even though I am entry level?

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    You can ask, but I very much doubt you'll get a positive response. If vacation is important enough to be a deal breaker, then take the job with more vacation days.
    – Jane S
    Apr 26, 2017 at 5:49
  • If you have offers in writing you could negotiate for more PTO. Company A might not give you 5 days extra, but they could go somewhere inbetween. Apr 26, 2017 at 10:44
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    Are both companies referring to PTO as a pool that includes vacation & sick days, or is that just vacation days?
    – sleddog
    Apr 26, 2017 at 13:33

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Vacation time is very important to me since where I am living and will be working is across the country from any of my family. Is it safe to negotiate with company A so that I could have 15 days PTO even though I am entry level?

You could ask for more time off, but be aware of how that may look to your potential employer.

You are an entry level worker. While time off may be important to you, your employer likely wants to hear how important work is to you, how you want to launch your career, how you want to learn and grow rapidly and the value you can add to their company.

Indicating that time away from work is of primary importance to you might be a red flag for some employers (it would be for me). It might make for a poor first impression.

You might have enough leverage to pull it off. The employer might want you to work for them so much that they are willing to change their PTO for an entry level employee. But I'm guessing that won't happen.

You might also consider asking for unpaid time off, if the time is really what is most important to you. When my company hired folks from a country half-way around the world, they typically took no time off the first year, carried it over to the second year, and then occasionally augmented that with unpaid time off. This made their trip home worthwhile and we considered that concession part of the price of hiring folks from that country.

But they never came in asking for that right away as a entry-level employee, in my experience.

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    Unless you have a very in-demand, hard to find skill set, or this is the first step in a specifically designed fast-track progression path (which I don't think is true for most entry level positions), there's no point in trying to negotiate that for an entry level position. Usually the negotiating leverage is the fact that you have the kind of years of experience that usually commands a higher PTO accrual rate, and that's what you're giving up by moving to the new company. I hate commuting by car, but vacation/PTO is pretty precious. Tough choice. Not disputing anything in the answer, BTW. Apr 26, 2017 at 14:45
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It's perhaps worth asking the questions, they can only say no.

But personally I would opt for A as the time you spend commuting will more than add up to 5 work days over the course of a year. If there is nothing distinguishing the jobs other than the PTO, then take the one nearer and use the time you would spend travelling, and the extra money that you are saving, to put back into your life, and career.

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Companies commonly trade off salary and PTO in negotiating with senior level candidates. Most employers have automatic increases in annual leave with time on the job, and senior employees will have much more than the minimum, and want to keep it. The hiring companies are used to it. Your case is different. You could explain that you have obligations or commitments that make you need more time and say that you would, of course, expect them to reduce their salary offer.

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In your situation it might be wise to mention to Company A that you would rather work for them, but since your family lives cross country, and Company B is offering more PTO you are unsure of what to do. You can ask if there is any way that they could match that time.

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If one job requires things that the other job doesn't (longer commute, a car), then they may offer "essentially the same salary" but they really shouldn't be considered "essentially the same". Even if you're only talking $40 a week extra for gas, you're still talking $2000 a year. And that doesn't even take into account the extra commute time - what is your time worth?

That being said, there is no harm in asking for what you want or need. Negotiating is a part of the hiring process. You may find that a company has strict rules that say that all new hires get 10 days and that is it, but you may find they have some flexibility - but you'll never know if you don't ask. I have found that PTO is one of those things that is more than likely set in stone. It is often used to reward employees who stay with a company for a long time (i.e. 5 years = 15 days, 10 years = 20 days, etc.).

From a company's standpoint, it wouldn't seem fair to older employees who have been there for a while to have possibly less PTO than the new guy who just started. And unlike salary, which no one will know unless you tell them, PTO is something that everyone sees you take. If you're on vaca for 3 weeks then everyone is going to know that you have 15 days PTO. It could turn into a morale issue at the company if they just hand out PTO in different amounts to different people they hire. And if they were to give someone 15 days now, then they would probably have to give all those people who haven't reached that level (say 5 years for 15 days) that same amount as well.

So you're chances don't really look good to me. You'd probably have a better chance asking for more money; but then you're entry level, so I'm not sure that would be successful either. You just have to decide if the extra PTO is worth the extra commute and live with that decision.

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  • @JoeStrazzere What I'm saying is that a car and commute take away from your salary, so that should be accounted for if there are differences between two offers. Apr 26, 2017 at 19:03
  • @JoeStrazzere I disagree, they may have the same gross salary, but they sure don't have the same net salary - but salary is the correct word. Apr 26, 2017 at 19:07
  • @BarryFranklin, or the person could just move closer to the office. It is a personal spending choice not a reduced salary.
    – HLGEM
    Apr 26, 2017 at 20:38

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