Be Sure to Evaluate the Entire Compensation Package
When the offer is made, be sure to evaluate the entire compensation package — not just salary. Benefits can add up to 30 percent to your total compensation! Here are some commonly offered benefits:
- Medical insurance. Employers get a group rate, so even if you have to contribute part or all of the contribution, it still is cheaper than you could get on your own.
- Dental insurance. Not included in most (if not all) medical plans, so you may want this coverage. Gaining in popularity, and, again, often at a cheaper rate than you could get on your own.
- Optical/eye care insurance. Eye exams, glasses or contact lenses, and other eye-related issues are not covered by most medical plans, so you might want a separate plan.
- What kind of salary progression would be expected in the first three to five years? What is the average range of raises? Are there performance-based raises and bonuses?
- Life insurance. Something we often don’t like to think about it, but many organizations provide basic term coverage, which you can add to, to provide more coverage for your family.
- Accidental death insurance. Especially for dangerous jobs, but really for any employee.
- Business travel insurance. If you travel a lot for the job, it’s wise to have extra coverage, just in case.
- Disability insurance. There are actually two kinds of disability insurance: short-term (up to six months) and long-term (beyond six months). You should really take advantage of this insurance.
- Vacation Days. Most organizations have a system based on level in the organization and years with the organization. Entry-level workers often start with a week or two of paid vacation.
- Paid Holidays. Most organizations also have certain holidays when they are closed for business and pay their employees for the day off (such as Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Labor Day, etc.).
- Sick/personal days. Most organizations give employees a certain number of paid sick or personal days per year.
- 401(k) plans. Pension plans are giving way to 401(k) plans, which are also a retirement vehicle. Money is contributed on a pre-tax basis, offering you both a savings plan and a tax break. Employers often match (or match up to some level) employee contributions.
- Pension plans. Employer contributions that accumulate over time, but may also require you to be employed a certain period of time to be fully “vested” in the plan.
- Profit sharing. If you are working for a growing and profitable organization, profit-sharing programs can offer you great year-end bonuses based on the success of the organization or your division.
- Stock Options/ESOPs. Plans that allow employees to purchase company stock options at below-market prices.
- Tuition reimbursement. Organizations that want to encourage their employees to gain further education and training offer some form of partial or complete tuition reimbursement.
- Health clubs. Some organizations get a group discount to health clubs and country clubs for their employees.
- Dependent care. Some employers a plan for employees to deduct a pre-tax amount for care of dependents. Others subsidize (or even offer) child care.
- Employee Assistance Program. Free or low-cost counseling offered to employees for dealing with situations such as substance abuse and marital or family problems.
- Overtime/travel premiums/comp time. Many organizations offer some compensation for employees that work past normal hours — whether when at the company or traveling on business.
- Parking, commuting, expense reimbursement. A perk that not many get, but some companies do offer various benefits related to commuting to the company.