During my career, I have had offers from companies that I wasn't prepared to really understand the value of what they were or weren't offering. I thought I'd write a post about some things that weigh much higher now that I've worked at my fair share of really great and really bad places. When getting an offer for a new company or considering leaving your current company for greener pastures is one of the more difficult things to navigate.
Comparing your current company to a new one can be tricky. Many individuals base their decision solely on the base salary. I have done this myself several times. There should be multiple things considered when reviewing a potential new company. We'll go through that together.
The base salary you are offered for a position is a top benefit to review. If you are being paid hourly or salary, the base pay should be comparable to what the industry standard would be based on your experience and portfolio. If you are unaware of what your skills are worth, Dice.com has a really great salary calculator that allows you to list your skills and applications, based on how long you've been working with them.
Keep in mind, it is a jumping off point, not set in stone. If your calculator states you should be making $80,000 annually, but the company you interviewed with offers you $70,000 - it's a good idea to review the full benefits package to see if that extra salary is offered in another way, such as a bonus. You can also make counter offers provided you have reasoning behind it and you aren't asking for double the salary offered. That's just rude.
A bonus can be a nice chunk of change based on how the qualifications are structured. Not all companies offer bonuses and the ones that do are NOT guaranteed. Ever. If a company states you are guaranteed a bonus, read the fine print carefully. Or point it out and ask how it's guaranteed.
Bonuses are generally based on your individual performance, as well as the company's performance in either stocks or profit margins. It's important to find out what your role is in the performance requirements. If the company doesn't do well, but your personal performance is documented and exceeds standards, would you still get a smaller bonus based on the one requirement. Is your bonus tied to coworker's performances as well, such as a team you're on or the sales team.
Potential raise / promotion
It is always a good idea to ask about the internal promotion programs if you are interested in higher positions or leadership roles. Asking questions like this can also show that you plan to stay with the company once hired and are willing to work your way up in the company. Although it is tempting to ask about when you might get a potential raise, you don't want to ask about that prior to starting the new job. It can come across as too money hungry and could cause the company to rescind their offer.
Paid Time Off
The majority of companies will offer a week or more of paid time off (PTO) per year, usually based on your seniority in the company. Once you've been there at least a year, usually you'll be able to rollover hours and/or you get extra time off. Generally, this benefit will be straightforward in the package offered.
Medical coverage and premium payments
The majority of companies will offer medical, vision, dental, long and short term disability - or some combination of these coverages. Make sure you are familiar with the options being offered. Some companies offer traditional medical plans, some offer more high risk plans that have a lower monthly premium payment out of your paycheck, but have a much higher copay when you seek medical care. Review the amount of the premium you are responsible for versus the company's portion. This should be explained in the benefits package. If you have questions or aren't sure what they are truly offering, don't hesitate to ask for more information so you can accurately compare your current plan with the plan being offered. Some companies offer short term and/or long term disability coverage at your expense or theirs. This coverage can come in very handy if you need to take time off for a surgery or medical procedure. It can keep a percentage of your paycheck coming while you're off on a leave or using unpaid days off.
Aflac / Hospitalization
Sometimes a company will offer additional medical hospital coverages like Aflac at a lower rate, where the company takes care of some of the premiums. This is a really great benefit to have in case you or a covered person in your home ends up in the hospital.
Hospitalization coverage will help to cover monthly bills in the event of an accident that lands you in the hospital. Your company may not offer a program, like disability insurance, that keeps the paychecks coming if you are injured. In that case if you end up in the hospital, this coverage can help pay mortgages, car notes, etc when you aren't getting a paycheck. This is a benefit that can be financially helpful, especially if you are already paying for this coverage out of pocket. It would then come out of a paycheck instead, and usually comes at a discount from what you pay on your own.
The majority of companies offer life insurance. Sometimes they will offer xx dollars of coverage for free, and you can buy additional coverage you may want. So, a company offers life insurance that covers your salary amount and they pay for it. Some allow you to purchase additional insurance for only a few dollars per paycheck. Generally, this amount is much less than if you purchased life insurance independently.
Some companies have discount programs they are able to offer to their employees for other companies. An example would be if you work at Allstate, you may be offered a discount on your cell phone plan with a certain company if you provide your employer information. These are deals that can be very helpful to you financially if you are able to take advantage. Again, this is not always offered at every company. I've noticed the larger companies tend to offer discounts more often than smaller places. Many times, the company you will be working for has a parent company. That parent company owns several companies and offers discounts among their own companies.
Many sales representatives and executives are offered a company car from a fleet the company keeps. This can lower your monthly expenses significantly by removing your need to pay for a car, maintenance on that car, gas, and insurance. The company generally takes care of all expenses. However, you will want to verify all expenses for the car are not yours if all these items aren't listed in the benefit package. Sometimes, you would be responsible for your own insurance or fuel.
Company cell phone
Most of the time, when a company phone is offered, you will still want to keep a personal phone for personal use. It's not a good idea to have all your private dealings on a work phone. This is a nice perk, but most likely won't save you on your expenses.
If you are required to travel for work, your expenses should be covered by the company. This should include the hotel, airline and/or car rental, food stipend, and any reasonable expenses for a client you may be meeting with. All these details should be listed in the benefits package as well. Some companies may book and pay for travel for you, some will reimburse. Be sure which is correct prior to accepting a position so you are prepared to pay for travel prior to a paycheck if you need to.
401K, IRA, company match
Most companies offer a 401k plan for all employees to contribute to. Some are base IRA's and some are Roth IRA's. A good resource for understanding the IRA types and your 401k is here. It's important to understand the difference and how it affects your contribution at and before retirement.
Some companies offer an employer match as well. They will contribute a certain amount to your plan. So if you contribute 5% of your paycheck to your 401k, some companies will match 3%. Some do not contribute anything. Some require a vesting period. A vesting period is the amount of time you must be employed with the company in order to own the amount contributed by the employer. So, the benefits package may state the vesting period is 2 years. This means when you hit your 2 year anniversary with the company, you would then own the contributed amount by the company, as well as what you've contributed yourself. For more information, see this publication. Your benefits package should explicitly state all of this. If it doesn't, then the company most likely doesn't offer the missing items.
Publicly traded companies have the option of gifting stock to it's employees. Companies also have the option of allowing employees to buy stock at a discounted rate. Generally, these options will be in a benefits package as well. If it is not, the company may not be traded, or it doesn't offer these programs to employees.
Legal coverage can be important to take advantage of if you have a family. Most of the time, this coverage will help have legal documents drawn up for normal situations, like writing a Will or Power of Attorney. This benefit can offer a discounted rate for additional attorney fees for other needs your family may have. Sometimes, there is Identity Theft protection available in certain plans as well. Usually there is an additional monthly premium for this option. You can expect similar benefits to companies like LifeLock.
Company culture is huge thing that you'll need to do your research on. Google the company and find blogs or articles about them, what it's like to work there, if most employees are happy and/or satisfied, and the morality of the company itself. Does the company seem to care about the community it is in? Do the employees post on social media that they enjoy working there?
Searching on Glassdoor.com is a great step in getting anonymous details about a company when considering a position there. Pay attention to reviews of those in similar positions you're looking to get hired for. I personally tend to look into a company's footprint before I interview with them because if I see many employees posting negative things about them, it's a good bet I won't want to work there either. No amount of money is worth working at a company that treats you poorly.
A company that is diverse in it's people is another form of culture that's hard to determine before you get hired. A company that has diversity in it's people is generally going to want to hear your ideas moreso than the company that has 100 of the exact same cookie cutter person working there. Different perspectives are a huge asset to any company and it's product. If you only hire 1 type of person, your product will generally only be tailored to that person's mindset. This will also limit the growth potential of the company, which limits your individual growth in the company. It could stop your career trajectory.
Holiday or company parties / outings
This is another area where you aren't going to see this in the benefits package. However, a little searching the internet can produce social media posts showing if a company offers company sponsored outings, holiday parties, or other team building type programs. I've always felt that a company that shows me I'm valued as an employee has happier employees and a higher rate of long term employees.
After all that, there are still so many other benefits to consider. If you are considering several offers from competing companies, some things can be compared apples to apples - like the base salary and medical coverage. Some benefits need more thoughtful consideration and a little Googling to get down to the brass tacks of the issues you're concerned with.
I hope this discussion has helped to show the many details that should be looked at when weighing options for a new job! These can also be used to weigh your current job - are you offered these benefits? If not, are these things important enough to change jobs for? Are there enough women, minorities, and under represented demographics working there? Only you can make those decisions.
I made the decision to accept an offer from my current company over another one because I saw the positive online presence they have, the good they do in the community, as well as offering a competitive salary. I absolutely love working where I do and hope to retire from here. I can honestly say that's the first time I've ever felt that! So, don't give up! If you feel your company isn't doing right by you, take a look at what else is out there and you might just land your dream job, like I have :)