Whether you’re new to the workforce or just received an offer for your dream job, it’s easy to let excitement cloud your judgement when it comes to an offer. So, for good measure, consider the following list when evaluating your new job offer.
Let’s start off with the obvious. Hopefully before you even started your job hunt, you did some research to see what people with your experience in your field are making in your area. That’s a lot of “yours” but these specifics are key. It doesn’t matter what copywriters are making in NYC if you’re looking to be an (awesome) copywriter in King of Prussia, PA. Another thing to consider is if the job responsibilities are worth the pay. Sure, you may have scored your $50k dream salary, but are you going to be working 80 hours a week to earn it? These are all factors to consider once you receive that magical number.
The Paid Time Off
This might be really important to you or, you might view it as just icing on the cake. But, when looking at PTO, it might help to consider its numeric value. Let’s stick with a salary of $50k. One week of paid vacation is worth $961.54 at $50k/year. If you receive the standard two weeks’ vacation, that’s $1,923.08. Now I’m starting to catch your attention, right? If you’re a homebody with no desire to travel, think of this time as getting paid almost two grand for a staycation.
Another thing to consider when looking at the PTO policy is if it increases over time. Two weeks might seem fantastic, but three weeks sounds even better, right? A lot of companies have a system in place where you get more PTO the longer you’re with the company. This is especially important if you want to stay here long-term.
When I started off in the workforce I thought, “insurance isn’t that important – I’ll just stay on my mom’s!” Well, staying on mom’s meant trekking to North Jersey to be in-network and a permanent fear of turning 26. Then, I got a job with less than ideal insurance that happened to not include dental. That’s (of course) when I got the most expensive cavity of my life. Needless to say, this stuff matters.
Take a look at what you’ll have to contribute every month and what it costs you if you need to visit the doctor (this part’s important!). Your high-deductible plan may only be costing you $50 a month, but those doctor’s appointments come at full cost until you spend, say, $2,000, on yourself. And, assuming you won’t ever get that sick – that’s not the way to go (see most expensive cavity reference above).
Now, a high-deductible plan isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Just something to take into consideration when budgeting out your new salary. So be sure to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Bonus points if the new employer contributes to your HSA. The average employer contribution is around $475, but could be more.
So, maybe your salary is $800 less than you wanted. But, the office includes a fully stocked kitchen with catered lunch every day. For this example, we’ll use what I spend on lunch to calculate this out. On average, I spend about $25 a week on my lunch. $25 x 50 weeks – because, you know, you have those two weeks of vacation – comes to $1,250. So, right there, you’re in the green.
Other perks can include: casual dress code, saving you money on business professional clothing; bring your dog to work day, which brings joy and saves you around $15 a day on a dog walker; company-sponsored events, like a team outing to a ball game or even a trip abroad.
The commute to work is often something overlooked. I learned this the hard way with my first job. I drove on the NJ Turnpike to catch a train to NYC and walk from there. I didn’t calculate tolls ahead of time, and quickly realized they were costing $300 a month. Yikes! So, consider the cost of your commute carefully. Think of how much you’ll be spending on gas and tolls, or train fare, or even ferry fare. And, also consider the amount of time you’ll be commuting. What are the traffic patterns during your new hours? Will it be tolerable?
Also, if your potential employer is offering some form of commute reimbursement, factor that in! When I worked in Manhattan, some employers offered a MetroCard reimbursement. That’s an extra $116.50 per month in the bank. In case your calculator is far away, that comes to almost $1400 a year.
Flex Time and Emergencies
This is something you often forget about until it’s too late. If you need to work from home, will your new manager let you? It’s a major perk if you can work from home while you fight a nasty cold instead of taking a day or going into the office sick. With most contagious ailments taking around 1-3 days to no longer be contagious, you’re looking at saving 1-3 sick days, or $193.31-576.92 if we’re using the $50,000 salary from above. It’s important to not abuse a policy like this though, and only work from home if you’re well enough to actually be working.
While there are many other things that could also be included in your offer, these are some of the main components to evaluate before signing on the dotted line. Also keep in mind that non-offer related factors are important too, like company culture and job duties. Even if all of these items meet your expectations, it’s always a good idea to look at the big picture. After all, company culture might be worth a bad commute, or your dream job may be worth a formal dress code.
So, with all of our examples from above, what does the total salary come to? Well…
$50,000 – base salary
$1,923.08 – PTO
$475 – HSA contribution
$45 – three bring your dog to work days
$1,250 – lunch provided
$1,400 – MetroCard covered
$576.92 – flex time used to work from home while fighting the flu
GRAND TOTAL: $55,670.00
Now remember, this doesn’t include other costs the employer is paying to have you on board, such as contribution to your actual insurance plan, employer taxes, and office supplies— just to name a few. This is just another way to assess the true value of your offer because, as you can see, great perks really do add up.