There is a common misconception that when you are being offered a job everything is negotiable. It is an unfortunate truism that in the last twenty years, companies have been streamlining and standardizing business processes such as benefits and compensation to deal with both global competition as well as changing working conditions and legal requirements.
The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the company, the more flexible they are with policies. As a company becomes larger it needs to put policies and procedures in place that benefit the majority of the employees. If it is a publicly traded company, those items can be even more stringently controlled.
Those things that generally have some flexibility in terms of negotiability are generally monetary: base salary (within a set range, which I've discussed before), sign-on bonus, and sometimes stock/equity. Titles can sometimes also be negotiated (for example putting "Senior" in front of it if your experience warrants it.)
As a recruiter making offers fairly regularly, the three things that people try to negotiate on that are generally non-negotiable (with me as the recruiter) unless you are at the VP level or above:
Flexible Work Schedule
Vacation is generally pre-set based on seniority, and earned as you work (ie you receive .6 hours of paid vacation for every 40 hours you work.) If you are starting a new job and have vacation already planned, most companies allow you to either take it unpaid or apply un-earned vacation (causing a deficit; if you leave your job before you accrue this time, it may be taken out of your final pay check). This is something you want to discuss with your potential employer.
A person's work schedule is something that is determined by the (hiring) manager, not HR/Recruiting. For example, I recently hired someone that had a personal commitment and asked if he could work 80% of FT until mid-April (32 hours a week). The manager was fine with it and we actually amended his offer letter, and will revisit the terms of his offer in April. If someone needs to work outside of "core" business hours, they need to discuss it with the manager *before* they accept the job.
Telecommuting isn't a viable work style for every company, and in the Seattle area it is often used as a retention tool for valued/high producing employees as opposed to a recruiting tool . Sometimes if there is a dearth of office space it is necessitated, but that should be in the job description. Most companies that have the infrastructure have flexible policies about occasional telecommuting (ie you are waiting for the plumber, so you work from home in the morning) or if you have family obligations like an ill child, but that is the exception rather than the norm. And, again, it is generally at the discretion of the hiring manager, and subject to a company's stated policies.
If you are someone that believes you absolutely must have more flexibility with your work environment, being the employee of someone else may not be the best professional route for you. More and more people are realizing that consulting is a better lifestyle for them, and there are tons of resources to find out more about being a 1099 consultant out there.
Resume Bloopers (or, How Not To Get The Job)
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