Should I negotiate on my new job?

Checklist: 5 points to negotiate in any employment contract

You have the job! You fought your way through the application process and prevailed against the competition in the interview. Or you have accepted a job offer through a headhunter. Perhaps your new employment contract also results from an internal reorientation. Either way: Whenever you have an employment contract to sign, you can and should negotiate certain points. We'll tell you which ones they are.

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1. Employment contract: negotiate your rights and obligations!
2. Point 1: Salary
3. Point 2: Employer benefits
4. Point 3: Working hours
5. Point 4: Accessibility
6. Point 5: Field of activity
7. Tips for negotiating your employment contract

Employment contract: negotiate your rights and obligations!

Many employees are happy to have found a job at all. The more this corresponds to your wishes on paper, the less willing you are to negotiate. After all, you don't want to be seen as demanding or leave a bad impression. This setting is understandable, but unfortunately not correct. After all, there is no such thing as the “perfect” job, and so there is one or the other little thing to be found in every employment contract that is worth negotiating.

For example, even if you are happy with the salary, it would be worth trying to negotiate a little more. For more money in your account at the end of the month, you would certainly have nothing, would you ?! So what should you always negotiate - or at least take a closer look at the employment contract and examine it critically - before signing it? We have put together the five most important points for you:

Point 1: salary

Salary is a crucial factor when choosing your job. It largely decides whether or not you are satisfied in your job in the long term. Although a good salary usually cannot make up for an otherwise lousy working day in the long term, you will not be happy if you go to work every day with fun and enjoyment, but can barely afford enough to eat. Especially the young skilled workers, the so-called Generation Y, are actually considered to be particularly undemanding - at least in a material sense. They tend to despair employers with the desire for a lot of free time or a purpose in their work. This reputation precedes them.

Reading tip: Mood of upheaval: How Generation Y is changing the world of work

However, current surveys produce a completely different picture: Even for Generation Y, salary is one of the most important decision-making factors for or against a job offer - for many it is even the most important (Source: World). In many cases, salary negotiations take place during the interview. If you have already come to an agreement in this context, you may of course not suddenly renegotiate again before signing the employment contract. The end of the probationary period or other times are more suitable for this, as described in the following article:

Reading tip: Salary increase: The best tips for your salary negotiation

If, however, no wage negotiations have taken place, the time before the contract is signed is the right one. As mentioned earlier, salary negotiation can be worthwhile even if you are actually happy with your future earnings. A bit of tact is required here: If the salary is already appropriate or even above average, attempts to negotiate are not absolutely necessary. On the other hand, if your future income is (not even) average, you should grab the opportunity to trade it high.

Reading tip: Starting salary: This is how it works with the salary expectations

But not only the salary offers room for negotiation in a new employment contract. S.You should therefore compare your demands with the following points.

Point 2: Employer benefits

Sometimes it makes more sense to demand other benefits from the employer than more salary. As soon as you exceed a certain limit, your tax rate also rises and in the end there is hardly anything left of the extra income. Therefore, there are also so-called tax-free employer benefits, which you can negotiate in a new employment contract instead of salary negotiations. These include:

  • Benefits in kind such as goods or petrol vouchers
  • Kindergarten grants
  • Private use of electronic work equipment such as a smartphone
  • Health promotion
  • and much more m.

Which services are tax-free and in what amount is clearly regulated by law. But you can of course also claim taxable special services such as a company car. Paying a 13th month's salary, vacation or Christmas bonus is a popular topic when negotiating an employment contract.

A company pension, entitlement to at least one further training per year, which is paid for by the company, or numerous other individual regulations are also possible. So think about which agreements you could benefit from outside of a higher income and try your luck in the context of the employment contract negotiations.

Point 3: working hours

The number two of the most important factors in the workplace with regard to your level of satisfaction are certainly working hours. For example, if you earn 3,000 euros gross per month, it makes a big difference whether you have to work 40 or 35 hours a week. Overtime is also a problem for many workers if it is done too often or to a great extent. Models such as the home office or remote work are also desirable for many employees.

Reading tip: Overtime: What you should know about overtime

So take a look at clauses on your working hours, vacation and overtime regulations and other relevant factors that determine your work or leisure time. Become aware of what is more important to you - more free time or more money - and where you therefore want to negotiate. But also consider the impact on your career. In many companies, for example, it is difficult to achieve a management position with reduced working hours.

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When negotiating shorter working hours or more vacation days, it is usually an either-or with your request for more money. Nevertheless, many employers are more flexible with regard to working hours than they are with regard to financial aspects. So it's definitely worth a try.

Point 4: Accessibility

Due to digitization, leisure time no longer means that you can switch off from work. In many companies it is common practice that you have to be available to your colleagues, boss or customers outside of working hours. The smartphone rings on the weekend and you can even check your e-mails when you are on vacation. This is not only annoying, it can also become a real health burden in the long run.

Reading tip: Burnout: How sick does constant availability make you?

You should therefore make a fixed agreement with your employer about when you must be available and how - and when you can confidently go “offline”. Record this regulation as a clause in the new employment contract so that you can refer to it again and again later in your daily work. Here too, however, you have to be careful that “switching off” does not become a barrier to your career. Of course, you shouldn't put your health at risk for your career. So you're walking a fine line again.

Point 5: Area of ​​activity

Last but not least, in your employment contract you can negotiate not only your rights, but also your obligations, i.e. what do you owe the employer in return for the salary and the like? Which activities do you have to perform - and which do not? What about your area of ​​responsibility? What are the limits of your manager's authority to issue instructions? So do you have to do "low" jobs for which you are actually overqualified when your boss tells you to? And if so, from when can you say “no”? Such definitions of your area of ​​activity should also be recorded in the employment contract - and of course you can negotiate existing clauses. Do you dare!

Tips for negotiating your employment contract

Many workers simply do not dare to negotiate an employment contract because they do not know how to approach the matter. You have little negotiating experience and feel overwhelmed by the "new" situation. In conclusion, we would like to give you three tips to help you negotiate your employment contract:

  1. Think in advance what you would like to ask, whether this is realistic and how you will justify it. The better your arguments, the higher your chance of a "yes".
  2. Be confident but willing to compromise. If you announce excessive claims and do not want to move away from them, you appear snooty and under certain circumstances the "deal" - i.e. the employment contract - does not come about. After all, it has not yet been signed. So be sure to show sensitivity when negotiating a contract!
  3. Always set your demands a little higher than your actual goal. In this way, you give yourself room to maneuver to meet the employer. So if you want two percent more salary, ask for five percent more and meet with the negotiating partner in the middle.

What other advice would you give our readers for the contract negotiations? Which clauses in the employment contract do you think are negotiable and which are not? How so? Thank you for your suggestions on the subject in the comments!

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