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Negotiate Around High Gas Prices

Job seekers already have plenty to negotiate when meeting with hiring managers, but the rising price of gasoline can no longer be ignored. If fuel costs are an issue for you as a candidate (and it’s likely they are), it’s important to know how to bring up the topic and negotiate through it professionally.

The average price of a gallon of gas reached $4.00 across the country in June 2008 and is still rising. While prices range by region (California pays the most, with states like Missouri and South Carolina seeing the lowest prices), Americans all feel the impact. The Department of Transportation reported that traffic on public roads was down 4.3% in March, the first time in 30 years that the number of drivers on the road decreased.

Commuters don’t always have the option to stay off the road. While the number of telecommuters has skyrocketed with the rising price of gas in some industries, a plant manager must be at the plant. Many telecommuting strategies just won’t work. That doesn’t mean, however, that your concerns about high fuel costs are irrelevant to your job search.

As FPC covered in a past article, “Negotiating Successfully,” it’s important for job seekers to go into every interview knowing what they want. President Ron Herzog reminds you to use the C.L.A.M.P.S. system, prioritizing Challenge, Location, Advancement, Money, Prestige and Security as you search for a new position. Factoring in the price of gas can help clarify your Money needs. But it can also put you in a position of power to win other concessions if the compensation package is less than you’re looking for.

Cars get the best mileage under steady-moving highway conditions. So while telecommuting may not be practical, shifting your hours earlier or later in the day (allowing you to avoid rush-hour traffic) will save you money on gas. Flexible work schedules are now more and more common, with the National Study of Employers reporting that 68% of employers offer flexible schedules to at least some of their employees. That statistic alone could assist you in a negotiation. (If you are working with a recruiter, they will negotiate on your behalf. If you are in a direct-hire scenario, you will need to be prepared to negotiate the issues that are important to you.)

It’s important to highlight how such an arrangement can also benefit the employer. You might say, “I am eager to secure this position because I would really welcome the challenge of supervising so many different teams. If I arrive two hours earlier, I can review the previous day’s productivity and use that time to problem-solve. When the other managers arrive, I can give them my recommendations and they can hit the ground running.” Remember, the best negotiations are win-win for both sides.

Expect some resistance when asking for flexibility. As common as it has become, the hiring manager does not know you and may have concerns about trusting you to work when others are not present. Be frank as soon as you see any signs of discomfort and seek to reassure the manager. You might say, “I can see you’re not crazy about this idea. Can I ask what concerns you?” The manager will appreciate that you take these concerns seriously. Be clear that the power lies in the manager’s hands. You may offer to work routine hours for the first six months, and then undergo a trial period with your preferred schedule.

You can also cite high gas prices in negotiating for relocation. According to Recruiter Relocation (a dedicated relocation company), the average moving company fee has risen to over $10,000. If a company can’t meet your salary expectations but is an otherwise perfect match, mention how prohibitively expensive gas has become for you. Suggest that paying for your relocation could make the difference.

There are many other things employers can do to mitigate the cost of travel. If you are able to take advantage of mass transit, ask about discounted passes. Some companies even organize internal car-pools as a way to lessen the pain without having to raise salaries.

As long as you continue to stress the benefits of hiring you and stay open to giving as well as taking, you’re likely to have a good conversation. Be clear that gas prices are an issue for you, especially if you need to live and work in a region that isn’t served by public transportation. Communicate what you would be willing to sacrifice in exchange for a flexible work schedule.

Everyone is feeling pain at the pump but there are things that employers can do. State your needs and go to the table with a plan that can work for both you and the company. It’s likely your hiring manager is affected by high prices too, and as long as you treat the company and the negotiation with respect, the company may be quite willing to meet you halfway.

How FPC Can Help
FPC recruiters work in partnership with you to assist in every step of the hiring process –including negotiations. If there are issues that are particularly important to you, talk to your FPC recruiter early in the process about negotiating them for you. Clear communication puts hiring managers at ease and empowers your recruiter to secure a true win-win scenario before your start date. Strategize with your FPC recruiter. They have the experience to make it work. Contact an FPC recruiter at


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