At some point in your career, you’ll face the difficult decision of choosing among multiple job offers. Either you’re graduating college and have more than one entry-level offer to evaluate or you’re entrenched in your career but are considering new employment. Often times, gainfully employed professionals may accept a new job only to get a responding offer from their current employer for last minute consideration. Because job selection impacts most areas of your life, it’s important to analysis all factors that go into an offer. Don’t compare the two salaries and base your decision solely on the higher number. And don’t accept a new position just because you don’t like your current one. If a prospective employer wants you on their team, they’ll give you the right information to properly evaluate the offer and allow you an adequate amount of time to accept, reject or counter their proposal.
While the compensation evaluation seems like the most straightforward of the factors, it has multiple components. If the positions are in different states, determine how the state’s income tax rate, if one exists, will impact your take home pay. States like Florida, Nevada and Texas have no individual income tax and rates for other states will vary. The yearly salary is what employers most discuss in early negotiations. So learn what’s competitive for someone with your experience and compare it to the proposed salary. Total compensation, or remuneration, encompasses more than just salary so make sure you account for all monies payable when weighing your options. A yearly bonus may be part of the package and is often a percentage of your salary dependent on meeting personal goals, company performance targets or both. You should review the most recent quarterly reports if bonuses are paid only when the company has a profitable fiscal year. If the numbers are trending downward, don’t weigh a bonus into the total compensation value. Attempt to learn what salary increases have been like in recent years as it will clue you in to future pay growth potential. Though interviewers may not share such information, use contacts you have within the organization to paint a more realistic picture of the compensation structure.
The promise of a fair work/life balance with laptop-free weekends isn’t written into a job offer, especially for exempt (i.e. salary) employees. But accepting a higher paying job where evening and weekend work is the norm won’t feel like a net gain. It’s fair to ask general questions about normal business hours but most hiring managers won’t tell you up front that teams are short staffed and overworked. Use company review websites to read what current and former employees say about the typical workload. And talk to any contacts you have within the organization to help your decision be a more informed one.
Besides taxes, insurance premiums account for most people’s largest payroll deduction. The strength of a company’s insurance benefit package should be part of your job proposal analysis. If you’re offered a position, request insurance benefit details including current medical, dental and vision premiums, co pays and deductibles. Once you determine their payroll frequency, likely biweekly or semi monthly, you can divide the total premium by the number of paychecks per year and compare it to deductions from your latest paycheck stub. And, similarly, you can look at deductible and co pays, if applicable, so you can project your out-of-pocket medical expenses. If your salary increases by $10,000 but poor healthcare benefits will cause a $10,000 rise in expenses, you haven’t improved your situation. Insurance costs continue to rise so understanding how it will hit your paycheck is important.
Most employers offer a retirement savings plan but its benefit to your retirement goals will vary. Just because a prospective employer has a 401(k) plan, it doesn’t mean it’s comparable to your current savings plan. Most companies offer similar investment options for your pre-tax dollars but each employer will match your contribution to varying degrees. Determine if the company matches at all and, if so, up to what percent. A one or two percent match difference may not sway your decision, especially if you’re just starting your career. But if the offers are otherwise similar, the retirement savings plan offer should factor in your decision.
People tend to focus on company growth instead of personal growth potential when seeking out a new employer. The belief is if the organization is strong, your job will be secure and your career will progress. But not all companies work that way. Yes, it’s important to work for a successful company but you never want to accept a position at one, look back after 5 years and realize your career has stalled. During the interview, you must ask certain questions to determine if you will or won’t grow within their organization. What does the career map look like for people in this role? After I become more established in my position, will there be opportunities to shadow a supervisor and challenge myself in new areas? Also, if you’re on site for an interview and have the chance to meet the current staff, ask them how long they’ve been in their current role and if they feel challenged by their work. Everyone wants to progress in their career. Hearing the likelihood of that from current employees and hiring managers will help you make a more informed decision.