May 14, 2020

Starting A Job Search When You Want Better Benefits

by Amy Stuntz

Perks and benefits are key ingredients in a happy and healthy company culture. A modern job seeker no longer focuses on just on the bottom line (aka, salary). If improving your workplace benefits is your #1 motivation to making a job change, you are not alone. The next two sections outline how to find Best in Class employers and the benefits they are mostly likely to offer.

How can I find out about a company's benefits?

Companies generally provide a Benefits Overview after the interview process has begun. Usually somewhere between the 1st and 2nd interview they will offer this information so you can compare it to your current offering and take it into consideration if an offer comes.

The company won’t provide confidential information before you interview, so if that’s a concern before you apply, check out these resources to obtain information on your own.  

Check the Job Description– Most formal job descriptions will include at the minimum a general overview of the perks a company offers including:

  • Base salary
  • Bonus potential
  • 401k (k) & company match
  • Health insurance
  • Time off (sick, personal, vacation, & volunteer)
  • Travel & Entertainment (allotment, time, & expense)

Research the Employer– Many companies list benefits information on their Careers Page. Their website will also include Best Workplace awards/recognitions and testimonials from current employees.

Glassdoor – Read the ratings and feedback about the organization on Glassdoor. Employees (past & present) submit reviews and information that Glassdoor compiles to rate the company. The lower the stars in categories like compensation and benefits, the less likely you’ll be to apply.

Networking– Use your networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Each of these sites feature Employer pages and common connections. Employers invest a lot of money into creating marketing campaigns, videos, and job advertisements to appeal to job seekers.  With benefits being such a prominent way one company can distinguish itself from another, you are sure to find information outlined.

Social Media– Pictures really are worth 1,000 words and shed some light on a company’s culture. Are there pictures of employees doing community outreach or volunteer work? Are announcements that directly relate to benefits (health, wellness, travel, retirement) touted on their feed? Do they have announcements of recent employees celebrating a new baby at home with a mention of paternity or adoption leave?

Will I find the benefits I want?

401(k) or Pension – You need something saved for retirement. Employer-sponsored 401(k) plans can offer great value especially when matching contributions are offered. Pensions are the gold standard and beat all the rest hands down. Pensions guarantee a lifetime payout once you have been on the job long enough. If you are lucky enough to find an employer that still offers a pension, you’d be smart to put them at the top of your list.

401(k)s are such a common offering the question isn’t if you can find a 401(k) but how much you can get in a company match. You will be able to maximize your 401(k) in a new job if you can: 

  • Enroll within the first 12-months of employment. A lot of companies have a 1 year waiting period. If you were hired right after an open enrollment period, you could be waiting 1.5-2 years. That stinks. Get into the program as soon as possible so you can start contributing and the company can put their match down too.

Health insurance – It is important to know what is included in the benefits package. Find out about provider options, how much you must pay into the health plan yourself, what is covered, if dental and vision are included, how soon you become eligible, etc.

  • Back to your research on the company’s Careers Page, here is where you will find a listing of second-tier benefits. Everyone thinks about health insurance, dental, and vision, but what about STD & LTD (short and long-term disability), accident, and life insurance. You could purchase voluntary benefits privately for relatively low monthly premiums, but if you get all of them, the $30-$50/month for each could start to add up.  An employer-sponsored voluntary plan typically has better coverage and premium than finding it on the private market. 

Paid time off (PTO) – Ask for details on how vacation or sick time works. Do you accrue time off or are you allotted so many days per year? Can you roll over any unused vacation days to use the following year? Does the employer offer Volunteer Time Off (VTO) or Pet Bereavement?

  • Here’s where companies will get creative and flexible. Most of the time they aren’t bound by a strict policy of maintaining the same PTO schedule for all employees. Even if they say 15 days is their standard new hire allotment, when it comes to crunch time at an offer if you have 22 days and don’t want to take a step back, most companies increase the allotment to get the deal done.

Flexible working hours – Work/life balance is a top priority for today’s workforce. This can include flexible working agreements from 4-day work weeks to work-from-home options to 100% remote arrangements.

  • Underneath this banner comes benefits like cell phone reimbursement, laptop/home office computer, commuter benefits, parking passes, and a monthly car stipend. Employers that offer great benefits in this category recognize how connected employees are, in and out of the office. For that they pay for time and resources in different and creative ways.

How do I negotiate benefits during an offer?

During the interview process the company will ask you, “So, why are you looking for a new job?”  This means way before the offer comes you’ve already told them what’s driving your job change. But, if by chance, an offer is presented and some of their benefits fall short, don’t just walk away. This is your time to negotiate!

For tips on how to negotiate PTO, perks, and the other benefits you want, check out this blog from my partner, Kris.


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