Between student loans and paying rent, salary will always be a top concern when evaluating a job offer. But keep in mind that salary is just one part of all of the incredible things a company can offer you. Other factors—from retirement plans and medical insurance to professional development and time off—can make the experience of understanding your first "real" job offer a daunting task. So when evaluating a job offer in its entirety, consider these four important benefits beyond your salary.
Retirement might be so far away it's hard to imagine how your actions now will matter in the future. But think about this: through the magic of compound interest, small amounts of money become bigger amounts over time — so when you hit retirement age, you'll have enough cash to retire comfortably. Additionally, some retirement plans save you money by lowering your taxable income (think: fewer taxes taken out of your paycheck) and get you free money if your employer matches what you put into your retirement. For example, at Philips when an eligible employee contributes 6% of eligible pay, we contribute an additional 7% for a total of 13%.
U.S. News has the scoop on how to take advantage of these and other incredible money-saving, future-building retirement benefits. Not sure how to ask the employer about this benefit? Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you match contributions? If so how much is the match?
- When can I begin contributing?
- Can I change how much I contribute at any time?
Premiums, copays, in-network...the various parts of health insurance can be overwhelming! (Eligible employees working at Philips, for example, have the choice of two national plans, and in some locations, a local option.) Not to mention all of the actual benefits within a health insurance plan. Some plans, for instance, cover gym memberships. And through employee assistance plans, you may even have access to mental health counselors. So where do you even begin? The key here is to think about what you really need so you can cut through the noise. Focus on self-care and you may find your employer's health insurance plans offer a great deal. Monster.com has a handy overview of common components of health insurance plans. Here's how to explore what a company offers:
- When does coverage come into effect?
- What are the premiums, copays, and deductibles of each plan?
- May I see a benefits summary including what's covered and not covered?
Learning doesn't stop when you leave your college campus. What's different now is you have a lot more control; ultimately, as Natasha Bowman at Forbes argues, your growth is in your hands. So keep your eyes open for professional development opportunities that may exist. Professional development can run the gamut from workshops on site to tuition reimbursement, from mentoring programs to a boss who is willing to give you hard projects that push you to grow. At Phillips, we offer a central learning portal called Philips University for all employees around the world. It includes offline courses as well as e-learning classes our people can take whenever, wherever they choose for such areas as how to increase the quality of your work and reduce time spent on challenging assignments.
Again, the key here is to get specific about what matters to you and how the employer actively helps its employees grow. Ask an employer:
- What kind of professional development programs do you offer?
- Are there mentoring opportunities?
- Do you offer tuition reimbursement?
Vacation Time and Work Life Balance
You haven't even started the job, so why would you think about time off? Well, you're not just kick starting your career; you're likely exploring a new city, meeting new people, and just picking up new hobbies and interests you'll want to tackle. Will your job give you the space for a dynamic work/life balance? As David Jensen over at Science Magazine says, “As is true for many aspects of the job search, when it comes to work-life balance, it's up to you to find a scenario that works with your work style."
So when examining an employer's offering regarding time, consider not just vacation days, but also flexible hours, and working from home. For example, at Philips we know our people are always trying to make life better for people, so we offer paid time off for employee volunteer activities. Here are a few questions to ask to get a good sense of whether your job will allow you to live the life you want:
- How many vacation days are included?
- Is working from home allowed? What's the policy/process for working from home?
- How does the company support work/life balance for its team members?
You've got a lot to consider as you enter the working world. While it's easy to focus on salary, to get the most out of your future job, think about all of the benefits included in a job offer. And if you're curious about what Philips offers our employees, make sure to check out our benefits infographic.