“I appreciate the offer, is there any room to negotiate my salary?”
Once you’ve considered all the other details of your offer, take another look at the salary and research competitive salaries using LinkedIn,Salary.com, or Glassdoor – you should know your market value. You can also check in with your network. Reach out to contacts in local professional groups, discuss with a mentor, or talk to a career coach.
If you graduated from a tech bootcamp or accelerated learning program, your school’s career services department and fellow bootcamp grads can be great resources when evaluating salary. This is especially true if you’re working to land your first job after a bootcamp. Many bootcamps have a career services team that is dedicated to helping you find a job after you graduate – and sometimes even before you graduate!
Many people feel awkward or uncomfortable negotiating salaries (you’re just thankful you got the job), but it’s important to be direct and ask. You’ll never know unless you do. In most cases, the employer will be willing to discuss salary, since they know your value to the company, as well.
What if they can’t negotiate on salary?
While some companies might offer a signing bonus up front if they can’t negotiate salary, The Muse suggests asking for a “timeline for a raise,” which allows you to bring up the conversation again at a later time (typically during a three to six-month performance review). You may even accept the offer on the condition that you’re allowed to renegotiate your salary six months into the job.
If you negotiated and are still left with a salary that you feel is less than what you’re worth, take the focus away from compensation and look at benefits, such as vacation time or a flexible work schedule. Jennifer Fink, a career coach who specializes in negotiation coaching, says you “should negotiate other elements that could significantly improve satisfaction with [your] offer.”
“How are bonuses determined?”
Find out if bonuses are offered, and if so, how you can be eligible for them. Some companies give bonuses for specific incentives, such as taking on more responsibilities or pay raises based on performance. The more you know about these bonuses offered at the company, the more you’ll strive to earn the extra cash.
You can even ask for other bonus incentives, such as cell phone reimbursements or gym membership reimbursements. Every company is different, so be sure to ask.
“How can I know I’ll receive a fair bonus?”
When accepting a job, it’s crucial to read the fine print, especially with positions that have a bonus structure. Nothing is a guarantee with bonuses, so make sure you understand how bonus amounts are determined. Ask questions like, “How do bonuses work here?” or “What is the bonus structure for this role?”
You may not get an exact number (since it depends on several factors) but even a range or idea of how the company thinks about bonuses can help you understand how they value their employees. Tip: If you think the bonus offered is reasonable, get it in writing. Whether that’s a formal contract or an informal email, make sure you read all the details and fully understand what achieving the bonus means.
“Can I review the benefits package?”
If you haven’t seen the details of your company’s benefits package – for example, health insurance – ask for more information. While some employers might give you an entire packet of information going over health insurance copays, deductibles, and what exactly is covered, others may not send over that information until after you’ve signed your offer letter.
When you ask for those details beforehand, you can help ensure the benefits work for your needs, and it ultimately helps you to make a more informed decision when accepting your offer letter.
Not sure what to look for? Here’s a quick list of terms and their definitions:
401k: Most companies offer retirement savings plans, and the contributions come straight out of your paycheck so you can start to build your own safety net after retirement. Even better? Your company might offer an employer match. This means they will throw some money into your 401k on your behalf if you agree to pay a certain amount every paycheck. Basically, if you make $100,000 and contribute $6,000 a year to your 401k, your company might match it with another $3,000. That’s essentially free money for your retirement! (Did we mention it’s tax-deductible?) Tip: Be sure to ask what percentage the company matches and what the vesting schedule is for the match. A company 401k match typically vests over a 3 to 6 year period.
PTO: “Paid Time Off” is the amount of time your company will pay you, even if you’re not working. Most companies separate PTO by vacation, sick, personal days, and paid corporate holidays – make sure to ask about how many days of each they offer. Make sure you find out if your company’s PTO policy rolls over into the following year, or if it’s more of a “use it or lose it” situation each calendar year. Some companies even offer "unlimited PTO". Regardless of a company's PTO offering, it's important to ask whether the company has a culture that encourages the use of PTO.
HSA/FSA: Both HSAs and FSAs allow people with health insurance to set aside money for health care costs labeled as “qualified medical expenses,” which includes deductibles, copayments, or monthly prescriptions. Health savings accounts (HSAs) aren’t your typical savings accounts. They are available to people who have a high-deductible health plan, or HDHP.
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) come as part of a benefits package from your employer, but the medical expenses you can use them for are similar to HSAs. The money in your FSA comes out of your paycheck before taxes, but it’s important to be precise in the amount you want to contribute since most FSA contributions do not roll over into the next year. Before you enroll, make sure to research how much big-ticket items like Lasik surgery or Invisalign might cost if you want to use your FSA money before it expires.
“Does the company offer any reimbursement for professional development costs?”
Many companies offer incentives for employees to receive additional training that helps to advance their careers, so if offered at your company, take some time after joining to explore a few conferences, courses, and certifications that interest and benefit you. The more relevant education you have, the more effective you will be at your new job. Be sure to ask your prospective employer if they have career development programs or benefits available to employees.
Health & Wellness Programs
“Are there any wellness perks or fitness programs?”
Wellness at work is an emerging trend – as it should be! It’s worth looking into what health and wellness programs your future company offers that go beyond the gym. Examples of a few wellness perks include free flu shots, gym memberships, health coaching, or even financial wellness where your company offers resources to help with money goals such as budgeting or saving for retirement.