Evaluating Job Offers

by Kristy Amburgey

youre hiredWith salary being the important aspect of a job offer for the majority of people, the other parts of the employment package often get lost amid the dollar signs.  Instead of just seeing dollars, it important to evaluate the other factors of a job offer, in addition to salary, that can have a major impact on your decision to accept, negotiate or reject a job offer.  You need to consider all parts of your job offer, including what the company is offering and how the job and commitment will impact you personally.

The company’s job offer and benefits package needs to be thoroughly examined before making any job offer acceptance or rejection decision.  Consider these aspects of what the company may offer you to compensate you for your work.

Salary

The bottom line dollar amount is important to evaluate.  Know if the salary amount offered meets your needs and coincides with your career progression plans.  Understand if you will be paid hourly or if you will receive a specific salary regardless of the hours you put in per week.  The dollar amount should be a top priority when making your decision, but don’t forget the many other elements.

Other Financial Compensation

Companies also reward their employees in other ways, including bonuses, awards, commission or comp time.  For anyone working on commission or receiving bonuses, know how your employer will withhold taxes on this financial compensation.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is another key part of your job offer.  Some employers cover a large percentage of your health insurance while some companies will have you pay a chunk of money. You also need to ask yourself if you like the health insurance plan(s) offered.   There is a difference between a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) among others; know the difference and how it will impact you.  Dental and vision can be offered but not at all companies, so you may need to spend extra money to get both of these plans.

Retirement Plans

Retirement plans are important as companies often contribute to programs such as a 401k, 403b and other savings plans.  Some companies still offer pensions, and others might be involved in IRAs.  Stock options or profit sharing are other benefits that companies can offer as part of your retirement compensation.

Other Benefits

Benefits can range from flexible spending accounts to child care discounts and from educational benefits to life insurance.  Tele-working can also be a perk to your job package.  As you evaluate your offer, consider how each benefit will impact you financially and whether or not it is truly a benefit to you.

Vacation Time and Sick Leave

Everyone needs the option to have time to conduct their personal business, take advantage of a much needed break or stay at home with an illness.  If you accrue vacation leave, make sure you understand how much time you earn a pay period.  If you get a set amount of time, know if that time increases the longer you are employed by the organization.  Another element of this benefit is holiday time off; know what days you automatically have off of work.

Perks

Perks are those extra benefits that can make life more convenient for you.  Travel benefits, on-site dry cleaning pick up, a cafeteria with free food, a company fitness center, freebies/discounts  and more can be options for your perks package, but you need to decide how important these are to you and if you consider them benefits.

In addition to looking at the job offer and benefits package, you must also evaluate how the new job will impact you in other ways like your personal and professional happiness.

Company Culture

Each company has a distinct culture that can greatly impact your personal satisfaction and growth.  Some companies have reputations of being fun and playful.  These types of companies often tout their extra perks that make life a bit more convenient, and they like to encourage having fun at work.  Some companies are much more serious and conservative in nature.  You need to decide what you want in a company culture to better ensure your satisfaction with the environment and your ability to grow within the company.

Work-Life Balance

Finding your ideal work-life balance in a job can be difficult.  You don’t want to come across as not willing to put in the work, but you don’t want to neglect your personal commitments either.  As you decide on a new job, ensure that you understand the expectations the company will have on your time, specifically your “outside” time.  Are you expected to work weekends or evenings, and will this conflict with other obligations you have?

Relocation

Relocation is also an important topic.  Will the company help you cover any costs if you must move, and how much will the move cost you personally?  Also consider how a move will impact you and your family as you settle into a new community.

Community

If you move to a new area, you need to look at the community in which you will be living and working.  Does the community have the amenities that you both need and want?  Also remember that the state, county and/or city in which you live may impose additional taxes on you outside of federal taxes.

Commute

Your commute to work affects your work-life balance and has a financial impact on you.  How much gas will you need for the week, or how much is your train ticket?  Do you have to pay for parking, or does the company cover that?  Is there an optional shuttle service, or are you sitting in your car for a long period of time?

As you delve deep in your job and benefits offer, you need to look at the various aspects of your offer package, not just the base salary.  While that dollar amount is the easiest way to interpret a “good” offer, you need to also look at how an offer will impact you personally, understanding how the job and job offer fits into your current and future goals.

Do you want to know what other graduates are seeking when looking for employment?  Check out the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) article titled, New College Grads Seek Annual Salary Increases Over Healthcare Benefits.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

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The Salary Talk

by Kristy Amburgey

What is your view on negotiating a salary for a new position?  Are you nervous, concerned or feeling vulnerable?  Are you confident, prepared and ready to start talking? Do you fall somewhere between the two spectrums?  Regardless of how you feel about your upcoming salary and benefits negotiation conversation, you must ensure that you are ready to bring everything to the table, from your research to what you can offer an employer.  Salary negotiation is a process by which you and your future employer come to an agreement about your view of your worth as an employee and their view of your worth.  This process occurs after a job offer has been extended.  Negotiation is not an exact science, and much of the process will be based on your comfort level and willingness to initiate the conversation.

First and foremost, you need to be prepared to have the salary conversation.  Before you start any negotiation process, research the salaries typical of your job type, industry and geographical location.  Resources such as salary and cost of living calculators are useful for this situation, and you can always ask your network about their insight into typical salary ranges or a new location’s standard of living.  Know the average cost of living for you and, if applicable, your family and understand how it compares with what you currently have.   And finally, understand what you personally can bring to the bargaining table.  Your qualities, skill sets, education and more are all valuable points upon which you can base your negotiations, including any of these suggestions.

  • Experience: previous work experience, especially in the same industry, can be a key negotiating point
  • Internship experience: a co-op or internship can be a useful tool for entry-level negotiation
  • Academic experiences: these experiences can include research, projects, campus involvement and leadership
  • Accomplishments: market your achievements from previous positions to leverage the results you obtained
  • Education: specifically a graduate degree or higher can be a good point for negotiation, but understand that it does not guarantee anything; some employers place more emphasis on experience than on additional degrees
  • Job-specific skills: certifications, licenses, computing skills, technical skills and more are all valuable to your employer, so emphasize that you have these enhancements
  • Another job offer: although this strategy can be tricky and risky by playing two companies against each other, you can let your preferred employer know that you have another offer that is higher (and DO NOT make up another job offer just to try to get more money – honesty is imperative!)

Next, you need to be confident in your negotiations.  Part of your confidence should come from being prepared to have the conversation; you’ve already done your research and know what you can offer.  Another piece of the confidence puzzle is your own personality.  There are many people who are assertive and can confidently have the salary conversation.  If you are not typically an assertive person and the idea of negotiations leaves you a little unnerved, know that confidence also comes from believing in what you can offer.  Confidence is also a bit of courage, a willingness to just ask and a realization that this is just a discussion.

Finally, know how you are going to ask for a higher salary or additional benefits.  Ideally, you have been extended the job offer and given the compensation package that the company is willing to provide.  It is recommended that you ask for at least 24 hours to consider the position, letting the company know that you are very interested but need time to discuss with your family.  Hopefully, all your research and preparation is done, so now you have to decide what to do.  In response to the offer, there are several actions you can take.

  • You can accept the offer
  • You can negotiate the salary
  • You can accept the salary but negotiate other elements of your job package (commission, vacation time, evaluation time frame for a raise, performance rewards, tuition reimbursement, sponsorship, etc.)
  • You can decline the offer all together with the knowledge that you don’t want the job (don’t expect the company to come back to woo you if you decline the position)

Do know that you are not required to ask for more money, but it is an advantage to ask if there is any flexibility in the compensation offered.  The choice is your very own, but you can certainly consult with other people to get a better feel for the situation.  If you decide to negotiate, be ready and confident in your approach, always leaving the company feeling that you want the job but have additional things to bring to the table.  As you counter-offer, you can either give a specific dollar amount or a range that you would consider, or you can negotiate other parts of the job package.  A company may agree to your counter-offer or may extend another offer. Once you have come to a verbal agreement on the entire package, always get everything in writing.

When negotiating your salary, there are several topics that do not enhance your argument for more money.  Just because you need the money is not a good reason to give to your future employer.  Understanding that you may have need for a specific salary, identify the qualities and skills that you can bring to the table that are unique and make you the right fit for the organization.  Don’t just ask for money because you have bills to pay.  Also, you don’t want to point out that you know about another new employee who got a better offer than you.  If you do have that information, phrase it as, “Through my research, I understand that a typical salary offer from Company is in the range of X to X.  I would really like to meet the higher end of that range as I bring X, Y and Z.” Just because another person got a better offer does not mean that you should get the same; that other person may be more qualified or have presented a better case for additional compensation.  Another negative tactic is to demand a specific salary; instead of demanding, ask if negotiations are possible and be conversational in tone.  Hopefully through your research, you know the average salary range of the job you want, but many people still try to negotiate from what they think they can command or think they are worth.   Your salary expectations must be grounded in reality.  Having no idea what the realistic salary is for your career path and geographical location leaves both you and the employer frustrated, and, more often than not, the conversation is stalled.  Before you decide on a career, obtain a degree or change professional directions, ensure you know what salary range to expect.

As always, there are exceptions to the rules.  Jobs that fall under union agreements most often are non-negotiable.   Some jobs have strict salary bands that bind your negotiation process.  You may be able to ask for a bit of movement with the amount, but you may not be able to exceed the band (a good example is a government position).

Everyone wants to have the best possible salary for their new jobs, and everyone wants to be fairly compensated for their work.  It is only natural that salary negotiation be a skill set that people want to master.  Although there is no one way to achieve results, you want to research and prepare for the process, find your inner confidence and be ready to ask the question.  Turn the idea of salary negotiation from an intimidating process into a simple salary talk by implementing the techniques provided.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Salary Negotiation in a Tough Economy: Factors to Consider

by Omayra Pearson, Assistant Director, Career Development Services, Lake-Sumter Community College 

Credit: istockphoto.com

Salary negotiation requires research and an awareness of the environment you are negotiating in. First, in order to effectively negotiate, you must know what type of salary ranges are typical for the type of position you are applying. There are many resources and websites to assist you in conducting this type of research, including www.salary.com. Once you know what the average salary is for your position then you can look at additional factors such as your previous experience, your educational background, geographic region, etc.  However, one of the most important factors you must assess during the negotiation process is the state of the economy. When the economy is booming you will find more positions available than qualified candidates to fill them. In this type of setting employers are aggressively seeking candidates and competing to get the most qualified person into their company. In addition, you as the candidate will have more negotiation power and therefore may be able to command a higher salary and/or may be able to ask for additional benefits.  However, when the economy is down, candidates lose negotiating power. For one, there are a lot more qualified and competitive candidates seeking employment than there are positions available. This allows companies the freedom to pick and choose from their candidate pool more selectively (this also means that candidates now have to more aggressively seek employment opportunities than in years past). In addition, companies are also on tighter budgets and are less able to provide additional salary. However, you may instead be able to negotiation additional benefits (i.e. additional vacation time, earlier evaluations, travel allowances, professional development, etc).

Other things to be aware of when you are negotiating are how the economy is impacting that company’s business as well as industry. If you are seeking employment with a company that has not be as impacted by the economy then you may have more leverage. However, if the company you are seeking employment with recently laid off employees or have been cutting their budgets, then you will have an idea of how much room you may for negotiation.

The tough economic times we are currently experiencing does not mean that salary and/or benefits cannot be negotiated. However, it does mean that you must have more realistic expectations of your negotiating power. As the economy starts improving in the coming years you will be able to adjust your negotiation skills accordingly.

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