Feature Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
During the final year of my undergraduate degree, I spent countless hours looking at jobs. Reached out to my network. Searched through Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Talked to my professors. The whole nine yards.
While applying, I noticed that not all jobs are created equal. You could see similar job titles and responsibilities, but benefits were dramatically different between organizations.
Interviews confirmed that reality. I sat across the table in an already stressful setting and had to silently weigh options. Thankfully, I took an introduction to human resources class during college and was exposed to much of the terminology. Putting job fit, location and company culture aside, benefits are the most important deciding factor when choosing an organization to work for. For most upcoming and recent grads, this is uncharted territory.
This list is not all encompassing, but highlights the benefits I’ve found to be most common.
Money is usually the highest on our list of priorities. Research to see if the base salary is competitive. When you look at salaries, consider the cost of living in that area and your financial needs. You may need to pay off loans, support family, or continue pursuing your esport dreams.
Beyond your starting salary, it can be helpful to ask about advancement or raises (but be strategic when you do). Some organizations offer a signing bonus for accepting a job position. If you are moving to another city, state or country—you might also be eligible for a moving allowance.
2. Paid Time Off
Before you accept a new job, you want to know how much time you won’t be at work. Taking time off is essential to greater productivity while at work. Paid time off is seen in many different formats: personal days, vacation, sick leave, holidays…etc. Understanding the terminology is the first step.
If you have children or want to start a family, parental leave is really important (and in the US, a polarized topic). Some organizations also give its employees the option to take time away from the office for community service—an important piece of your own personal development.
The different types of insurance and coverage varies widely. Depending on the circumstance, insurance may be more important than salary. The most obvious is your health insurance plan. Many plans typically include some level of dental and vision insurance as well. Beyond that, other employers will offer disability insurance to protect you in the event you cannot work because of an accident. You might also be eligible for life insurance for you and your family.
4. Wellness Programs
Often connected to your health insurance, some companies offer wellness program benefits. Some organizations have gone to the extent of building on-site gyms and others will reimburse you for gym membership costs. Other benefits I’ve seen include annual wellness checks, access to mental health counselors, juice bars…etc.
5. Retirement and Investments
Depending on the size of the organization, it might contribute to your retirement or other investments. The most common is a 401(k) and is often matched by your employer. It is also common to be allowed to buy shares within your company at a reduced rate.
*Tip — some industries have stipulations on how long you have to work before employer contributions are locked in. This is often called a vested benefit.
6. Professional Development
This is probably one of the most overlooked benefits when starting in your first role. Continuous growth is important for you to succeed. This type of development is usually beneficial for your current employer. The first to ask about is whether they are willing to cover the costs to be involved with a related professional organization. Next, ask if there is an option to have costs covered or subsidized to attend a trade conference. Finally, many organizations offer tuition benefits if you are thinking of going back to school.
Somewhat of a fringe benefit includes understanding what resources you will be provided with to be successful in your role. Will you have a work computer or phone? Access to industry software (like the Adobe Creative Suite)? One of my favorite parts of my office is a sit-stand desk component, so I can work on my computer while standing. Ask what you will be provided with and consider if you need something else not offered.
There are a large variety of other benefits offered by employers. I’ll share a few that I’ve come across or received.
- Telecommuting options — are you allowed to work from home? Part-time?
- Commuter assistance — will your employer help cover costs for commuting to work? Train, bus, parking…etc.
- Childcare benefits — will you receive any additional support for childcare?
- Repaying student loans — will your employer help repay any outstanding student loans (besides receiving your regular wage)?
- Charitable matching — does your employer offer to match charitable donations directly from your paycheck?
The list I have compiled is by no means exhaustive. Some may not apply to many recent graduates, but it’s valuable to think ahead. It’s easy to get so focused on the salary, other benefits are thrown out the window. Each benefit has a dollar amount connected to it.
Once you’ve received an offer and discussed your benefits, make sure you get any negotiated items in your contract.
What are some benefits that you’ve enjoyed that I didn’t include in my list?