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Salary & Benefits

There are two areas that you need to pay special attention to when you are interviewing and ensure are addressed. These are salary and benefits and if you don't take the time to find out about them, you may accept a job that may not be what you are expecting for salary or have the benefits you are looking for.

As a generality, employment benefits normally comprise of about 40% of your total compensation package and you need to know what these benefits are and exactly what coverage is provided or what you may need presently or in the future.

You need to look carefully at what that company's benefit coverage is for. For instance, some benefit plans only cover same-sex partners and not opposite-sex partners, pre-existing conditions may negate you from having more coverage than the basic, there may be a waiting period before benefits come into force, or, perhaps you will eventually start a family and you need to know how generous a company is regarding their sick time policy.

When you are offered a job position, ensure you ask the most common types of benefit questions before you sign on the dotted line:
  • Is the health insurance coverage paid by the company and is this deducted from each paycheque? If the coverage is paid for by the employee how much is it for single and family?
  • Is it possible to review a summary of health insurance plan options? Are there any conditions or limitations in the coverage?
  • What is the type of pension plan is there and does the company contribute anything? Is life insurance provided?
  • What is the vacation or sick policy in place? When do benefits start, meaning is there a probationary period?
  • Is there long-term and short-term disability coverage provided?
  • Is there educational and/or training benefits included? Is it just for the employee, or does this include immediate family?
After considering the benefits that are being included, or not included, with your potential employer, you need to ensure that you take a long look at what salary is being presented to you.

A few tips in ensuring you are getting the best salary for your position include:
  • Researching salary levels in both your geographic area and your field of expertise
  • Review all salary survey information so you know the high and low end of the salary scale
  • Use both cost-of-living and salary calculators in order to determine if what the employer is offering is worth continuing negotiations
  • Look at your current monthly bills and determine how much you need to from each paycheque to pay these
  • Look at negotiating your salary within a range and not a specific amount
  • Unless an employer makes you a job offer, don't bring up compensation unless they ask you during the interview
  • Be flexible on negotiations. Maybe the company can offer you perks in place of higher salary
  • Always ask to think it over before actually accepting the offer. Take time to review it on your own, or talk it over with your family.