The job hunting process. Isn’t it just the most fun thing you’ve ever done? What could possibly be better then endlessly making cover letters and throwing your resume at a million potential employers? Oh gee, Gwen, I don’t know, actually having a job? [sidenote: results not guaranteed for the resume throwing process. Better results come from gently setting it on a desk.]
Right. Let’s face it, the job hunt sucks. Having to wear fancy (and EXPENSIVE) clothes to talk to people who probably already filled the position internally is terrible. But! Suppose you find someone who thinks you’d be a great fit for the job. AWESOME!! Congrats! Now, what most people struggle with is what happens after the interview- that gray area between interviewee and employee. The one where you and your sparkly new employer come to the bargaining table over benefits. They know you’re not going to work for free, but it’s in their best interest to pay you as little as possible. Conversely, it’s in YOUR best interest to get the best possible benefits package you can.
“But Gwen, I wouldn’t even know what to ask them!”
“If I ask too many questions, or am too pushy, they’ll just decide not to hire me. Then all my hard work will be for nothing.”
“I should just be grateful I have an offer. I’ll accept what they offer me and fight for more later.”
ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE NOT OK. You are obviously special. Yes, you. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have even bothered to interview you more than once or offer you a position.
Generally, after you interview, there’s a waiting period and then they will notify you in some fashion. The waiting period can vary from 2 hours to 2 weeks. (Once I didn’t even make it back home before I had a job offer.) After you get your offer letter is when you should talk about benefits. If you have multiple offers, this is an excellent way to decide between them. (I highly recommend a spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets!)
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
-Hourly or salaried? How will overtime work? Flextime?
-How often are you paid- weekly, biweekly, bimonthly? The first and 15th, or the 15th and 31st?
-What method can you access this? Direct deposit or a paper check?
-What do raises look like? Are they on a set time scale or merit based? Some combo thereof?
-Are there bonuses? How are they decided? (Individual/Company performance?)
-Do you get paid time off? How does that accumulate? Does it rollover from year to year or is it use it or lose it?
-How do sick days work? Will they complain if you use them?
-Is there any option to work from home? [<super important if you have a service call at your place for cable/plumbing/etc]
-Is there health insurance? Who’s the provider? Do they have paperwork you can look over later? How long until you’re eligible for it?
-Is there a plan with an HSA available?
-Do they offer a 401(k)? Do they offer matching? What’s the vesting period?
-Is there a pension? What’s the vesting period?
-Are there any other benefits? (such as free childcare, onsite gym, discounts on products, transportation reimbursement, relocation package?)
PERFORMANCE AND IMPROVEMENT:
-Are there regular performance reviews? How often?
-Who would you report to? Who would be doing your reviews? Would you work with this person directly?
-How are promotions handled? Seniority, performance, set goals?
-What does a typical career path look like for this position?
-How does training work? Do you get the chance to attend conferences, or will all training be handled by a senior coworker?
-What’s a typical day look like? Do employees regularly hang out or are they just coworkers?
-What’s the turnover rate?
-What’s the percentage of employees vs contractors? Is there a clear separation between the two?
-Will you get facetime with higher ups or are they mostly removed?
Now, don’t go down this list like a robot in one setting. These are all things to consider, and oftentimes will come up without you having to ask. Be sure to check out sites like glassdoor.com for an inside look in a company. Also make sure you know the average salary for the position you’re applying for and bargain accordingly. I didn’t know I needed to ask these questions and slightly regret not asking them, although I got lucky and got a position with a company that offers an excellent benefits package. Learn from my mistakes!!
Did I miss any questions? What did you ask before you got your job?
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