Salary & contract negotiation

The following list shows you that a salary negotiation is by no means just about salary. It´s an exercise in creativity to break out of the one-dimensional world of pulling on a single number, like bargaining on a flea market. In the case of negotiations, talking about more than one thing is easier than just about one, you have more dimensions for inventing creative solutions and come to an agreement.

This list is not meant as your big Christmas Wish List. You should not use it to go to your (future) employer and ask for all of these things, this will certainly turn them off. You should first of all look through the list from the perspective of giving: which of these things could I give to my (future) employer, which don´t hurt me much, but are of high value for them? This gives you some valuable bargaining chips in hand. For example, “I am willing to relocate for my employer.” Thereafter, you can look through the list, looking for the must-haves, the most important things for you: what do you absolutely need in order to be happy in a job? This could be, “A solid outlook on personal development is crucial for me.” With your “bargaining chips” and your essential wishes in hand, you can go into the negotiation with the aim in mind, “I want to find a win-win situation together with the employer side.”


  • Salary and extras like bonus, pension funds, petrol voucher, gadgets (car, mobile phone incl. minutes, laptop, petrol: often tax-free for employer and does not show up in the salary column of the annual report)
  • Time limitation (“Befristing”) of temporary contracts
  • Resources for your work- not only for academics. It´s much easier to get such commitments before you sign up for a job in contrast to you already having accepted a position
  • Career development, vertical mobility
  • Horizontal mobility: will I be stuck in a position or be able to learn broadly, work in different teams?
  • Flexible working conditions (hours, home office…)
  • Internal change of location: Possible? Expected?
  • Acknowledgement of experience level (Do PhD, postdoc count as work experience for the Stufe of TVL when working for a public employer)
  • Trainings: paid for, within working hours?
  • Relocation support when having to move for the position
  • Childcare: in-house or benefits (again, tax-free for employer)
  • Number of holidays and special leaves (usually fixed, but can be inquired to bring it on the table at least)
  • Travelling: how much is required, what is being paid for, can holidays be mixed into the business trips?
  • Length of probation and cancellation periods. Attention: double-edged sword. Long cancellation period makes it hard to change jobs!
  • Typical position and salary trajectories
  • Help for your partner in job search outside or within company
  • Authorships. Can you publish? For jobs in academia: can you be corresponding author on projects you devised?
  • Freelance work next to job allowed?