By October 23, 2019

The Best Programmers’ Perks To Negotiate Beyond Salary

When it comes to pay, too many programmers tend to focus more on salary, often forgetting about perks. Yet once you get a job offer, looking beyond salary can create better terms and a more satisfying career. 

Perks are the extras that aren’t counted as part of your salary but contribute to your overall compensation. Companies use perks to attract new employees. Some companies might try to tempt you with small perks like snacks in the breakroom or happy hour on Friday. However, it pays for you to carefully consider what perks you can ask for when you decide to accept a job.

No matter how well a job pays, if there are aspects of your position that dampen your productivity and creativity, you may feel unsatisfied in your role. For example, securing code organization principles means your daily workload isn’t hampered by having to figure out the intricacies of someone else’s code. 

Job perks like tools and flexible working arrangements mean you can get on with work on your terms, with the right equipment. A company offering the benefit of training means that your skills can continue to grow, to avoid stagnating in your role.

Whether you’ve had specific expert-led online negotiation training or not, you should expect to bargain contract terms after you accept a job. Many companies are open to offering perks, and it pays to negotiate with the employer to secure perks that are beneficial to you. 

So which perks are worth looking into? Each company will have its own perks, and it’s worth figuring out which ones mean the most to you. Securing a job with the right perks can even mean that lower salary positions could work out better than a higher salary position with limited or no perks, so it’s important to make your decisions wisely.

Contractor to Employee

If you’re signing up on a contract basis, it is crucial that you discuss your transition to full-time employee status as early as possible during the negotiation process. A contract employee may not be eligible for benefits such as medical and dental insurance or paid time off. Discuss with your employer how soon you will be eligible for full-time employee status. Discuss the new terms you should expect with the revised status. 

Many programmers believe in career mobility and may not want to stay at one firm for too long. These programmers often accept contractor status without much thought. Before accepting your job offer, make your calculations. Compare what you would stand to gain as a full-time employee rather than a contractor. 

Contract positions often net you higher rates in the short term and lower your overall tax position. So, talk with your accountant to figure out how many dollars you will keep at the end of a year for taking on the risks of being a “let go first and trained last” contractor.

Code Organization

Have you ever been asked to rewrite someone else’s code, only to become bogged down for ages? It’s extremely difficult and frustrating trying to trace back the past actions of others when code is not well organized or annotated. 

While a programmer’s core job is to write code that works well for computers, programmers can often neglect to consider writing code that reads well for humans. Projects abandoned by past employees can be difficult to navigate, and those abandoned projects may reflect poorly on your overall performance at job appraisals if you get stuck working on them.

It’s beneficial to your time and productivity to work with code that can be understood and refactored by others without bringing systems to a halt, and it’s beneficial for the company to not lose time and money on poorly organized projects. 

If you have experience in organizing a company’s code process in a previous role, talk to your prospective employer about changing things up. Offer solutions for code organization that you have found to be effective. 

Consider the ways in which your department could better organize functions, comments, and documentation. If the company isn’t on board with having a standardized process, then negotiate to have the option to decline working on older projects that may be difficult to decipher. 

Technology Tools

Programming is a technology-intensive undertaking. Writing code for your company needs special tools that you may also want to access at home and on your commute. These tools include high-end laptops, high-speed internet, high data-storage space, and simulation tools. 

For instance, you may need a mobile hotspot for those times you’re traveling or commuting. You may need a fast fiber connection at home to securely connect you to the office. Talk to your employer about covering the costs.

Skills Training

Programming trends change fast. While it’s not practical to become a magpie coder who chases after all the newest shiny trends and the current highest earnings, it pays to regularly brush up on your skills. If your job leaves you no time to practice new skills, you risk becoming complacent and even obsolete. 

Negotiate with your new employer to provide paid time off for training. Plus, discuss the options for your employer to cover the fees. If your department has a group of programmers, discuss regular in-house refresher courses, including online learning and code simulations so that everyone can familiarize themselves with trends. 

Stock and Equity

As a programmer, sometimes your creations are what forms the backbone of the company’s products and services. Whether you’re working for an established corporation or a startup, you might consider negotiating stock options and equity. 

A word of caution: Many startups fail. If the business goes under without being sold, any employees holding equity go home with nothing. However, if you believe in the viability of the product, an equity grant gives you a stake in the long-term success of the company. Calculate your employer’s stock capitalization before you consider negotiating for stock and equity. 

Remote Work

An increasing proportion of programmers no longer fit into the standard 9-to-5 work-from-office mold. Inspiration may hit you at midnight while in bed. Once you get into the zone, you may lose track of time and end up late to home or work. At times, the act of leaving your workstation to commute can make you lose track of your progress and ideas. 

Negotiate the possibility of working remotely either full time or on flexible time. Another option would be to work condensed days. For example, you may choose to work 10-hour shifts for four days rather than eight-hour shifts for five days per week. If you have a long commute or a congested office space, a popular route is working from home. A smart employer should be glad for the extra space and your increased productivity and motivation. 

Compensated Time

There is a joke that a programming career is like that of a war soldier. That is, a career filled with long periods of boredom interspersed with short bursts of frantic action. For most programmers, there will be some very busy periods, such as during software releases. You may be expected to work long hours and extra days during these busy seasons. 

If you expect the job will have busy seasons, either negotiate to have all your extra hours paid or ask for compensated time—known as comp time. Comp time is paid time off provided by the employer in exchange for extra hours worked.

Negotiate Your Perks Wisely

To boost your confidence, try a negotiation simulation to train with a friend or colleague experienced in negotiations. Come up with a few answers to handle possible employer objections. 

Negotiating the right perks can make all the difference to your success and happiness in your role. Ensuring full-time employee status means you stand to gain benefits like medical insurance, which could mean huge cost savings for you. Meanwhile, securing the appropriate tech tools and protocols for code organization means you can perform your role in an effective and frustration-free way. 

In addition, perks like training and flexible working mean you can stay on top of your skills. You can work in a way that promotes your productivity. Of course, if available to you, you could negotiate for stock and equity to give you a stake in the company you work for. 

Your salary is important, but the perks you negotiate can mean just as much to your overall compensation, so don’t overlook them when you accept a new job.

About the author

Simon Beaufort

Simon Beaufort is the resident editor at The Negotiation Experts, with more than five years of experience. Simon has a master’s degree in writing and has been creating and editing online content ever since. He is passionate about clear messaging, helping business professionals continue learning, and the Oxford comma.