It feels like all you’ve done for the past few months has been job hunting. Nothing has materialized until, unexpectedly, two potential employers call within an hour. They both want to hire you. Barnes, Inc is offering $65,000 annually, but with few benefits. Noble Corp pays $60,000 initially, but lists impressive benefits. You must decide by Friday.
When choosing a job, you need to look at more than just salary. You must evaluate benefits, too.
The buck doesn’t stop here.
Salary is probably the first thing you’ll consider when offered a job. Many online resources, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, list pay ranges. Take into consideration that salaries are often higher in larger cities. Additionally, ask about cost of living increases and other pay raises, commissions, and bonuses. Referral bonuses are especially common in healthcare careers with shortages, like nursing.
You need the assurance of insurance.
If you’ve priced health insurance, you certainly appreciate its inclusion in the employee benefits package. Medical expenses have been rising quickly and so has the cost to pay them; thus, the steep rise in health insurance premiums. Many employers will pay your entire insurance premium. However, an increasing number are now deducting part of the cost from your paycheck. Some policies offer dental and vision. Having a baby may not be in your short-term plans, but be prudent and ask what maternity coverage your insurance offers. It’s important to know what any policy covers. You won’t think about it when you’re healthy, but get that bug that’s infiltrating your office and you’ll be glad to have insurance that covers doctor visits, lab work and medications.
Many benefits packages also include disability insurance. This partially replaces your income if a serious injury or disability prevents you from working. Some jobs also offer life insurance, which can be comforting to have.
Retirement? But, you’re just starting your career.
You’re sitting in the HR office and you laugh when they mention retirement benefits. Your parents are still working, and your grandparents only recently retired. But don’t kid yourself: it is important to start saving for retirement as soon as you can and take advantage of compound interest.
Many employers offer a 401K program; in the public sector, such as schools or government jobs, the 403B is a comparable plan. Some companies offer a company match. This means that they will match whatever you put into your retirement plan (up to a certain amount). This is free money and a great benefit.
You’re so glad to be working, but some days it’s nice not to be working.
Everyone deserves a break. Ask about vacation days, sick days, personal and family leave, and maternity leave. If you are changing jobs make sure you understand what happens to any days you haven’t used.
What are some other on-the-job goodies?
Many employers will pay for you to continue your education. Going to professional workshops and training is a wonderful change of pace and any new skills can enhance you resume.
Besides pay and retirement, a few other financial benefits may come with your new job. Some companies may offer stock options; however, make sure you do not have more than 10% invested in company stock. If you are not diversified then you could be vulnerable to significant losses. Some larger employers have a credit union that you can join. They may have rates and services that are superior to your current bank. Depending on your work setting, discounts on related services may be offered.
Healthy and happy employees are better workers. That’s why many employers stress wellness. Gym memberships, in-house meals, and counseling services at or near the workplace can be valuable employee perks.
Before choosing between two or more desirable jobs, look beyond the salary offered. A generous benefits package from a lower paying job may outweigh the higher salaried position. Ask questions and calculate each scenario, but most importantly, maintain perspective—stand back and look at the big picture. You are going to spend most of your waking hours at work, so choose the job that will make you get up each morning with a pleasant feeling of anticipation. Follow these guidelines and chances are you’ll be satisfied with your new job.