Posted by Paladin on January 27, 2014
Questions to ask before you say “yes.”
Few words sound sweeter than “We’d like to offer you the job.” But, believe it or not, they shouldn’t mark the end of the interview process.
When considering an offer from a prospective employer – and especially when comparing multiple offers — it’s time to start asking some serious questions. Questions that could have a major impact on your job satisfaction. And on your bank account.
Money talks. It always has and likely always will. But base salary and bonus alone should not be your guide when considering an offer. Instead, start by thinking about what’s most important to you and your loved ones. Then put these questions to your would-be employer:
What is my career path?
About the worst thing imaginable for creative, marketing, communications and digital professionals is to be stuck in a dead-end job. Most of us get in this business expecting ample opportunities to grow creatively and professionally. That’s why it’s important to ask your prospective employer questions about your career path – and find out if you and the company are headed in the same direction.
What can you tell me about the company’s mentorship program?
To do your job successfully – and reap the rewards of your success – the insights of an experienced mentor can be a valuable asset. Some companies have highly structured mentoring programs, designating specific senior leaders to take juniors under their wing. At other organizations, mentor relationships are much less formal. And some have no mentoring programs at all. Make sure you know what the deal is before accepting an offer.
Does the company match employees’ contributions to the retirement plan – and how soon are they vested?
Most companies in the creative, marketing, communications and digital fields offer a 401(k) plan – this is a great deal because it enables you to move a portion of your salary into a savings account, tax-free. An even better deal is a retirement plan in which the company agrees to match a certain percentage of your contributions to the plan. Some companies match dollar for dollar. Others aren’t so generous. Make sure to ask.
Also ask about the vesting schedule for the plan. Typically, new hires aren’t eligible to participate in the plan immediately. Instead, they usually must have been on the job anywhere between three months to a year before they can begin making retirement contributions. And even then, they may only be partially vested in the plan. Partially vested employees can’t contribute as much to their retirement plans as fully vested ones can. Because it takes longer to become fully vested at some companies than it does at others, ask your prospective employer to explain the schedule.
What other perks does the company offer?
Employee benefit packages tend to be as unique as companies themselves. Most offer health, dental and with any luck, vision insurance. But the premiums you pay for coverage can vary significantly from company to company. Vacation days, holidays, PTO and sick days are also standard, but again, companies’ policies on those can differ.
Less common benefits are perks like stock options, travel-expense reimbursement, child day-care services, onsite fitness and wellness centers, flex scheduling and telecommuting. Make sure to go over your benefits with your prospective employer, and then focus on which of them are more important to you. Also, find out the date that benefits kick in (first day, 30 days after start date, or beyond), so that you can adjust your budget accordingly.
What type of technology does the company provide?
In the creative, marketing, communications and digital fields, you can pretty much bank on some sort of computer being on your desk the first day on the job. Smart phones and tablets might be a different story. Some companies even offer a “bring your own device” (BYOD) option. But mobile devices and related plans can get expensive – according to a recent Paladin survey, only 17 percent of new college graduates can afford them – so find out what’s covered and what you have to pay for.
When and how are performance reviews conducted?
Some companies have annual performance reviews. Others conduct them more frequently. Although your direct supervisor will most likely be in charge of your review, it’s not unheard of in our profession for coworkers being asked for their input on your performance. When taking a long-term view of a job offer, a company’s performance review protocol should be one of your key considerations.
Will the company cover my moving expenses?
For most people, moving is a major pain. But it hurts less when a company is willing to pick up the tab for the expenses involved (especially when experienced movers are charging an average of $150/hour). If relocation is part of your plans, this can be a big factor when considering an offer.
Does the company have a tuition reimbursement plan?
If you’re thinking about furthering your education, companies that include tuition reimbursement in the job offer are definitely worth considering. Reimbursement will typically cover classes that enable you to expand your core job skills or allow you to get an advanced degree in your area of expertise. As your student loans may be reminding you, that’s serious cash.
To learn more about negotiating and accepting a job offer, contact your local Paladin representative today.