Salary and Promotions

3 Questions to Ask About Employee Benefits Before You Get Hired

3 Questions to Ask About Employee Benefits Before You Get Hired Getting a new job requires some detective skills, including understanding your total compensation package prior to accepting a job offer. While most of us need our job to provide a regular paycheck to take care of our living expenses, we also need to consider the benefits program offered by a potential employer. Here are a few questions you might consider asking your prospective employer to help you make a better decision in evaluating a job opportunity.

  1. How much of my total compensation will include a benefits package?
    While your salary is important, don’t forget to consider the amount spent on employee benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in March that private industry employee benefit programs accounted for 29.5% of total compensation. This compensation includes paid sick leave, holidays, and vacations, as well as employer contributions to health and life insurance, retirement savings, and into Social Security and Medicare in the U.S. It is appropriate in your job offer process to ask for a clear outline of the benefits program offered. A job opportunity may look more or less attractive based on the benefits, so it’s critical to have the full picture before making your decision.
  2. May I review your health insurance program?
    If you are expecting your employer to provide a health insurance option, make sure you have a firm understanding of the program. You’ll need to consider what you’re currently paying and what you’ll be expected to pay under the program offered by your potential employer. If you’ll need to use that health insurance to provide care for your family or dependents, make sure to uncover the costs with that type of program and their eligibility. When you review the health insurance program look for information on co-pay amounts, pre-existing condition rules, deductible amounts, and prescription drug programs.
  3. What are your most unique employee benefits?
    While you should have uncovered all of the benefits offered in your employee summary, there may be a few employee perks you’ll find important. This is also a good question to uncover a little more about the culture of the company you’re considering. Companies may offer an employee gym, onsite child care, flexible work schedules, or other unique programs that may make a position more attractive, even if the salary is smaller. And don’t forget to find out about smaller benefits that can really add up like paid parking, discount dry cleaning services, or an economical onsite dining option.

Looking for a new job can be stressful, but when you do get a job offer make sure to slow down and evaluate the entire offer before accepting a position. It’s possible to negotiate your salary and benefit options before you’re hired, but it can be much harder to negotiate, or not possible, after you’ve accepted the position.

To Share or Not to Share Your Salary History

Salaryhistory_Dec2011_webA key question for many job seekers is “How much does the job pay?” But, the flip side of that conversation for potential employers is “How much do you currently make?” It can be hard to decide how and when to share your salary history with a potential employer, or even to decide if you are willing to share it at all. All of this is compounded by the fact that talking about money is usually taboo, right up there with religion and politics in the workplace. However, when it comes to your career, learning how to professionally discuss your salary can pay off in a big way.

Why Does an Employer Want to Know?

It’s important to first understand why employers request salary information during the application process. Typically, employers have a set budget for positions based on the job duties and market value in that area. If an employer is asking for salary information to be included when you apply, they may be using this as a quick way to determine who to interview for the position. Employers may not want to interview candidates who have a higher salary than they are willing to pay, or they may seek to interview candidates with the closest pay rate, regardless of experience.

Check out this video on discussing your salary history in an interview from career coach Karen Chopra.

Karen Chopra, Career Counselor, Washington, D.C.

Please note, the video clips herein and their sponsors do not necessarily represent the views of Express and are used for educational purposes only.

What’s the Best Way to Share Salary Information?

Even if salary information is requested when you apply, you don’t necessarily have to submit it. Typically you want to be able to discuss salary history and compensation, it’s a conversation best not left to written correspondence. With this in mind, state on your résumé you are willing to submit salary information when requested. This puts you in control of who sees your salary history and how it is conveyed. Ideally you won’t share salary information until your interview, when you can have a conversation about your job duties and additional compensation.

How do You Evaluate Compensation?

 It’s important to keep in mind that your salary is more than just your pay, your compensation includes things your current job might provide, including health insurance, 401(k) matching, education reimbursements, and more. When you discuss pay with your potential employer, let them lead the discussion before you share your salary history. Ask what benefits you’ll receive besides pay that will make up your total compensation. Research the job market to learn what salary ranges are being offered for similar positions. Understand what the position requires in terms of education and experience and be prepared to discuss how your education and experience should impact your salary. Make sure your salary research is done in coordination with the city where the position is located, because pay is typically impacted by geography.

The last tip to keep in mind when discussing your salary with potential employers is to make sure you are consistent. If you’ve cited salary information within online job board databases, like your CareerBuilder or Monster profile, make sure the information on your résumé is documented the same. If you are including benefits and other compensation factors, let the employer know you are willing to negotiate within these pending factors. Your credibility is on the line during your job search, and misrepresenting your salary history can be detrimental to you career.

 

 By Rachel Rudisill

Moving From a Small Town Job to a Big City Career

Smalltownbigcity_sept2011_webDeciding to relocate for work can be a very tough choice with many factors to consider. For some, choosing to pack up life and head for more opportunity could mean moving from a small town of several thousand people to a major metropolitan area with a population in the millions.

Preparing for a new job is tough enough with new policies, procedures, and supervisors to consider. Adding in the stress and headache of relocating to a new city can make it all very overwhelming.

There’s a strange paradox newcomers often feel when living in a major city. They are constantly surrounded by people, but can feel isolated and alone at the same time. People from a small town culture are inclined to have a more leisurely and open approach with each other. In larger cities, many are rushed with where they need to be and don’t have time for interruptions.

Adjusting to the culture shock can take a long time, especially if you move to an area without family or friends. Here are some tips to help you cope with adapting to your brave new world.

Do Your Research

Don’t go into things blindly. Find a place to live before you move. If renting, some tenants in large cities need at least two weeks to process your information and ready the rooms before allowing someone to move in. Get settled in before you start your new job to help make the transition smoother.

Calculate the cost of living, taxes, insurance, and other expenses before you make the leap, but also take time to look into the little things like parking, weather, public transportation options, laws, school systems, and population.

Once you’ve decided on the area to live in, figure out how it works. Being prepared for the culture of your new area will make things go much smoother. Find out the distance between your home and the office so you know how long it will take you to get to work.

Explore

It’s your city now, so get out there and meet it. Try to find a detailed map of your newcity and take some time to see it first hand. Make sure you’re aware of important things like local grocery stores, fire stations, hospitals, police departments, and banks that are closest to where you live. Also, take the extra step and introduce yourself to your neighbors. Many of them can have insights to the many perks the city has to offer.

Exploring the city will also help you figure out the shortest and easiest routes to work, as well as find the busiest and longest routes to avoid, giving you the best commute possible. Just remember to add in extra time for morning traffic. And, don’t be afraid to get lost. Finding your way back will only help you familiarize yourself with the area.

Get Involved

Making friends and acquaintances is one of the best ways to make the adjustment time shorter. That’s why it’s important to get involved with local clubs and organizations. It’s a lot easier to meet people outside of work if you get involved with something that happens regularly on a weekly or monthly basis. Whether you’re interested in sports or the arts, big cities will have a group getting together no matter what your interest may be. A good place to start is with your local chamber of commerce. Many chambers now have monthly professional gatherings.

Go ahead and challenge yourself to try something new. There is a lot big cities offer that small towns just don’t have. There are several charities and organizations that need volunteers, so use your free time to serve the less fortunate and meet new and interesting people at the same time.

Check with your company to see what community projects they’re involved in. Spending a Saturday building a house, helping out at a local shelter, or even running in a 5K that benefits a nonprofit is a great way to get to know your co-workers.

Escape

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of city life can be too much. It’s OK to occasionally take a break from the concrete and skyscrapers, and search out some flowers and fields. Many big cities have suburbs with a smaller-town feel, beautiful outdoor scenery, and less crowds.  So if you start to feel overwhelmed, spend a weekend or even just an evening out of town. 

If leaving the city is impossible, finding shops or stores that remind you of homecan help escape without leaving. Many coffee shops and cafés can provide a warm feeling of home when sitting inside their four walls, allowing you to relax and recharge for the next day at the job.

There are also many places in the big city that can provide sanctuary to the rush of city life. Find a park and spend some free time there. Being in nature can help expand your horizon and help you recover from the stress of the cluttered city.

Relocating may be a big decision, but there are several benefits to relocating for work. If the job is right and you’re in need of a good challenge, go ahead and take a chance on the big city.

For those who have already relocated, what have you done to adjust to big city life?

 

By Jared Cole

Understand “The Numbers” in Your Job: Part 2

Numbers_Performance_August2011_web In part one of “The Numbers” series, we focused on how you become informed about the numbers that matter in your company. The next step in understanding the metrics that impact your career is evaluating your own performance and how it can be measured.

Let the Numbers Add to Your Job Search
When stating your abilities, whether it’s on your résumé or your LinkedIn profile, it’s best to focus on achievements and give qualifying information as often as possible. For your résumé, state how many boxes per hour you can build or how many new clients you brought into the company per month instead of just stating your skills. When you are pursuing a new job, understand that potential employers are comparing your skills against other candidates. Presenting your abilities in a way that demonstrates the value you would add to their team can help you stand out as the best candidate for the job. This type of information will also give you a good point to elaborate on during interviews.

It can also be helpful to measure your performance during a job search. When searching for a job, take a look at what your activity is yielding. Do you schedule one interview for every 10 applications or is it one interview per every 25 applications? Understanding what to expect can help motivate your job search activity.

Tracking Your Productivity 
In a current position, make sure your goals are measurable and that you understand how they are being tracked, who is tracking them, and how often your performance will be reviewed. When you are negotiating a raise or asking for help in managing your workload, you’ll need to be able to clearly demonstrate your job performance.

While taking the time to analyze your job performance can seem counter productive to getting work done, it is time well-invested.  By understanding the number of hours a project took, the number of phone calls it took to make a sale, or rate of return on an investment, you’ll be able to forecast what it will take to meet your goals and where resources should be allocated. Make sure you talk with your manager about areas of concern where your resource investment is not yielding the best results and what measurements are most important to your job.

Now that we’ve covered how to become informed about the metrics that matter and how to measure your own performance, next we’ll cover why tracking your job activity can result in a celebration.

Three Tips for Getting Your Retirement Started off Right

Retirement_May2011_web

When hearing the word retirement you may think of sandy beaches and hours upon hours of free time. The reality is though, without a decent amount of preparation and organization, retirement is anything but a trip to the beach.

Start now.
Ask any financial guru and they will all tell you the same thing – start saving now. No matter your age, it is never too early to begin planning for retirement. The earlier you save, the longer your money has to grow. Each year’s saving will build upon the prior year’s saving, and slowly but surely you will accumulate wealth. If you don’t have much cash to spare, consider easy ways to cut back on spending and put what money you don’t spend toward retirement.

Take advantage of help.
Some companies have great retirement incentives, like 401 (k) plans. This particular type of plan is typically a salary reduction deferral, which regularly contributes a specified amount of an  employee’s paycheck to their 401(k). This plan is designed specifically for retirement savings and can be a great way to help you start saving early. Although you may think receiving your full salary is more beneficial than filling your 401(k), remember the money you aren’t receiving today will be there when you retire.

Set goals.
The worst retirement plan is no retirement plan at all. Knowing this, set realistic goals about the type of lifestyle you want to have after you retire. Consider every expense you may encounter, including living, travel, and food. According to the Department of Labor, “almost 20 percent of retiree income will be spent on health care,” so be sure to save for emergencies as well as luxuries in your later life.

Although retirement may seem like a distant journey, it is never too late to start preparing for it. Remember, the sooner you begin saving, the longer your money will have to accumulate and the better you will be able to enjoy your new post-career life. 

Ideas Your Boss Will Love and How to Pitch Them

Ideapitch_April2011_web One of the most important lessons a new professional can learn is the benefit of being proactive at work. Employers take notice when an employee is innovative and shares insightful ideas that can boost productivity or streamline processes. If you want to help your team find solutions to problems but don’t know where to start, ask yourself two questions first.

How Can We Make More Money?
Most suggestions that involve your company making more money are going to be well received by your employer. That being said, you needn’t suggest every “get rich quick” scheme you know during office meetings. Share ideas that can truly impact your company in the long run. Ask questions that help you evaluate the company and its competitors.  What can your company provide that other businesses in your market can’t? What special qualities and services make your team stand out? By answering these questions first, you’ll open the floodgates for ideas that will impact the company’s bottom line.

How Can We Save Time?
For many people, time is more valuable, than money. Learning how to save your company time will impress your boss and benefit your career. When it comes to performing daily duties, keep the motto “work smarter, not harder” in mind. This motto does not promote slacking off but rather, efficiency. Realize that time is money, and therefore it’s precious in your employer’s eyes.  Strategize and suggest changes that can save your company time and streamline processes. Remember, even shaving a few minutes off tasks can increase productivity immensely in the long run.

Deliver With Confidence.
Remember, you are in your current position for a reason. Your employer knows your worth, capabilities, and potential. Therefore, deliver your ideas with confidence and give the facts and research to back it up. Not every idea you suggest will be approved, or even liked, but by showing initiative your employer and coworkers will respect your dedication. And remember, if your idea isn’t implemented don’t look at it as a failure, but as an opportunity to grow as an employee.

Coming up with ideas your boss will love is not always easy, but it can be mastered. By concentrating on what’s important to your company and delivering your ideas with confidence and knowledge, you will be well on your way to impressing your boss and proving you are an employee they can’t live without!