Q & A Table of Contents
Choosing Between the Cash and the Car
From: Jim Nordquist
Question: I am thinking of changing companies soon and I have a few questions on how to bring up a few things in the salary negotiations. First some background on my current role. I am a Electrical Engineer specializing in power distribution. I have a good salary and am provided with a company vehicle because most of my work is in the field. I pay $120 a month for the vehicle . All the gas, maintenance and so on is paid for by my the company and I can use 15% of the mileage for personal use.
The new company does not provide a company vehicle since I will not be in the field anymore, but in an office. So I have to purchase a car if I do switch jobs. For my salary expected I requested in a 3% increase from my current pay just to cover my yearly raise.
So the question is. How or should I bring up the company vehicle that I will be losing. What do I ask for, a larger increase in salary or a signing bonus?
Response: If your personal use of the vehicle has been limited to 15% of the total mileage driven, it sounds as if the vehicle has been of very limited personal cash value to you — particularly (if I understand your question correctly) since you have been paying $120/month for the vehicle. Before undertaking any negotiation based on the vehicle as you pursue your new job, you should first try to figure out what interest your new employer might have in compensating you for transportation — in the form of extra pay or a signing bonus. Are other employees of the new company provided vehicles if their responsibilities do not include work in the field?
Most likely you do need something to drive — for commuting, for personal travel, for other purposes. If the cost of obtaining a car is an important factor in your life, you should figure out the impact of acquiring and maintaining a car on your budgetary needs — and base your salary request on the total budget required for maintaining your lifestyle. A new employer may find a budget-based compensation package far more realistic to consider than a salary proposal that includes rewarding you for something you are giving up because you’re being brought into office work rather than remaining in the field. Some people consider being moved into the office a step up; treating it as a step down (asking for more money because leaving the field costs you a car) may give your new employer questions about your commitment to your job.
Measure the costs and benefits of the total package. Don’t try to justify your compensation request detail by detail — the folks who make those decisions should be reasonably well qualified to understand the cost of living in their market as well as the value of your services to the company.
Good luck with your approach. Remember that in sports, new players are often called ‘bonus babies’. Don’t be a baby.