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It’s Not All About The Comp

Congrats! You’ve got the new job offer, but now what? As a professional, there are plenty of things to consider when making such a life-changing decision. The easiest thing to look at is fairly simple: pay.

Let’s be honest, we all do it. As soon as the recruiter calls to let you know the news you’ve been dying to hear after all of the anxiety built up from the series of interviews, the next natural thought to follow is what will my salary be?

Contrary to our inherent reactions, there are so many other factors to address when deciding whether a new job position is the right opportunity for you. So as you’re dusting off your calculator, let’s take a moment to understand your offer numbers aside from your base salary and how it relates to your total compensation.

What to Consider

Here are a few factors to evaluate, as well as questions to ask your potential employer:

employee compensation package summary of benefits

Sign-on cash bonus.

A sign-on bonus is exactly what it sounds like and is usually the most common. Negotiation tip: while base salary may be a bit more difficult to change if you’re expecting more, companies have a lot more leeway around the bonus you receive when discussing the offer. For them, it’s a one-time cost vs. the ongoing cost of a salary.

Leverage this opportunity to get creative and ask for what you want. Quantify the things that are important to you or what you may be leaving behind at your old job/location.

Performance bonus.

How will your performance bonus be calculated? What’s the cadence? Annually, semi-annual, or quarterly? Is this a fixed percentage, or is there an opportunity for a multiplier?

For example, can you exponentially grow your bonus based on higher performance? Is your bonus impacted by how the company performs?

Stock bonus.

Another bonus to consider is the tech world’s favorite: equity. If a stock bonus is offered, it’s typical for these to be given along with a vesting schedule.

If you’re unfamiliar with vesting schedules, think of it as someone handing you a vault filled with cash, and you’re only able to unlock this vault after a certain period. For example, Company A offers a $100,000 stock bonus that vests annually over a 4-year period. Every year you’ll be awarded a number of shares equivalent to 1/4 of that stock bonus.

So, unfortunately, you won’t receive a  lump sum payment upfront. However, if leveraged wisely, stock in a company (especially one known for increasing in value over time) is not a bad deal. Companies structure stock bonuses this way to incentivize employees to stick around.

After reviewing your offer with wide eyes, what are some of the things that are often overlooked but are equally important?

Location, location, location.

Assuming your job offer is in another city or state (maybe even country), you have to consider how the new location is conducive to your lifestyle.

Depending on what stage of your life you’re in (single, with kids, or maybe in a position where you’re supporting an elderly family member), you must think through your requirements; different circumstances require different needs.

Make sure you give yourself time to visit the new location and check out the area for yourself. It always helps to have a friend or family member who can help guide you in navigating the area.

Location can be a full stop as a deciding factor, especially as we gradually continue to migrate into a new era of WFH.

Career crowth potential/trajectory.

When deciding on a new job, the question is always asked: why are you leaving your old one? The two most common answers always fall within the same family: 

  1. Compensation and benefits  
  2. Dislike for the work they’re doing or their manager/team

If you fall into these categories, then there’s already little reason to stay. However, if you have a good thing going where you are or if you’re juggling offers from different companies, understanding your career track or the type of work you’ll be doing is a gamechanger.

Learning the team dynamic. Getting additional insight from the hiring manager on what type of projects the team is working on and the dynamic of the team (how big is the team, where does the team sit in the org chart) may also interest you. This way, you can compare it with the work you’re currently doing or even ask others you know who do similar work for their experience. Level setting your own expectations here is also important as a non-profit, for example, is significantly different than a start-up and, as a result, will offer a completely different perspective.

Is there potential to grow? Those with ambitious career goals and aspirations are constantly looking for ways to accelerate their career growth, and starting a new role can help you do that. As you’re learning more from the team and the recruiters, remember that a quick LinkedIn search never hurts – granted, when looking for a job, this can be tougher. However, once you’ve landed the offer, you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to sit down and chat. 

This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about their career tracks and how this role may get you to where you’re looking to go in your career. Understanding things such as leveling, titles, project visibility is a great place to start when soliciting raw feedback from current employees.

Culture – Work-Life balance.

Work-life balance is something we all talk about, yet putting it into practice is challenging. No one wants to go to a company whose work-life balance isn’t great. No matter your age, we all have a lot of life in front of us we’d like to experience… outside of work.

Recruiters will always tell you there’s sunshine and rainbows as soon as you step into the office, however, we know that’s not true. When learning more about the new prospective team, be sure to ask about the culture and what life is like inside the office (i.e., usual attire worn around the office, how many hours are typically put into a week, how many meetings typically occur in a day).

Listen closely for the red flags, as many responses will either let you know that it’s a place where you can feel comfortable or if you should lace your shoes and RUN.

Benefits.

The types of benefits a company offers will tell you almost all you need to know about how they look after their employees. Evaluate this carefully.

There could be a class taught on understanding benefits alone, with all of the different elements to consider between health, dental, retirement, and potential stipends. Sitting down with a benefits specialist will usually do the trick here to help you understand how certain benefits can apply.  

Make your decision

We all have experiences and backgrounds that shape the way we think. As a result, the way you review an offer may be significantly different than your peers, and that’s OK. Trusting your gut and following your intuition will tell you everything you need to know because, at the end of the day, you have to live with your decision and no one else. 

Most importantly, take your time. Don’t allow the companies to pressure you into a decision you aren’t prepared to make. Always remember, if they’re offering you the job, they want YOU. There were many others who were interviewed and even more who applied. If you made it this far, you’re in a great position, and the ball is in your court.

Write down your non-negotiables, and as long as you stick to those and never compromise your values, you won’t make a wrong decision. Choose wisely friends.

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