There is much that you have to consider before you sign an employment contract.
Of course, the most important thing to consider when looking for a job is the salary it offers.
After all, your salary pays the bills and puts food on the table. But, it’s not the only thing that matters.
There are other aspects, tangible and intangible, that must drive your decision-making.
As we write this article (July 2021), what is being called The Great Resignation (a term coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Texas A&M) is underway. A record number of Americans are quitting their jobs.
This April, about four million workers quit their jobs. The trend is picking up pace and spreading across sectors. The reason is not hard to see. Employees demand a suitable job that does not contribute to stress or ill health, and pays reasonably.
What must you look for in a job besides the pay? We discuss this in detail.
Financial Benefits That You Must Consider
Pay is only one aspect of your salary. Look for ancillary benefits that help and sustain you.
1. Medical Benefits
Examine the health plan you are offered. What is the amount that you receive coverage for? Is it enough if you require excellent medical care for a sustained period?
Moreover, does the health plan extend the same benefits to your entire family? Does it cover critical illnesses such as cancer, pre-existing conditions, accidents, maternity expenses, and so on?
If it’s a basic policy that provides you with nearly nothing apart from short-term hospitalization costs, then reconsider.
2. Disability Benefits
Are you provided for in case you suffer an accident while working? Most businesses have a plan to provide you with six months’ pay and then pull the plug.
This is, of course, more important for those working in more dangerous occupations, such as construction and mining. But, even a sales associate can have an accident while making a business call.
While there are no compulsory laws, it would be delightful if the employer could provide you with disability benefits.
3. Paid Leave
By and large, the U.S. workplace has a 40-hour workweek. That is the stated policy. In reality, it is far more. Most Americans end up working long hours, often without overtime.
It’s routine for young managers to put in between 60 to 80 hours every week at reputed firms.
A shorter workweek and paid leave would help you recover. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76% of private workers receive 10 paid days of leave every year. That is very meager and hopefully, things will move in a better direction.
4. Stock Options
Stock options are very common in the startup sector. Employees are provided with company stock at nominal value.
As the company becomes profitable, the employees’ net worth climbs as the shares grow in value.
But, there are different policies about who can receive stock options. Some startups are quite thrifty, and tend to provide stock options to a few crucial personnel who are in software development, marketing, and business growth.
If you feel your job description merits stock options, don’t hesitate to ask for the company policy. Know exactly at which designation you would receive options, before spending valuable years with an organization.
Time off to further your education, fully paid vacations, or a new model car (on lease) every year. These are some examples of perks that companies might provide to entice outstanding employees.
Among the things potential employees take into consideration when evaluating a job offer, perks are next to salaries for most.
You can live without the latest SUV, but some perks such as children’s education allowance are immensely helpful.
Not only are perks an inherent part of a good package, but they also help you understand if the company is tight-fisted with remuneration.
6. Notice Period
Your employer is free to terminate you if you don’t perform, or as part of cost-cutting exercises. But, does it come with a generous notice period? Ideally, it should be three months of pay in lieu of notice.
It is sensitive to ask about this topic. Also, a company is free to amend this policy from time to time, and what you hear today might not be the same a couple of years from now. Do your best to find out, but tread gingerly.
Non-Financial Benefits Are Vital
It’s not all about money. Job satisfaction encompasses many intangibles, from decent workplaces to promotion opportunities.
Will you get excited about your work when you wake up on Monday? That is what you must evaluate.
1. Does it fit your personality?
If you are an introvert, then working for customer care is possibly the worst choice for you. No matter how much you try, interacting with a dozen strangers daily is never going to be your cup of tea. No amount of pay could overcome the inner resistance you would soon develop.
If you are uncomfortable with travel, then sales is probably not the perfect career.
You need to evaluate yourself. You can do this by using the 16 Personality Test developed by Myers and Briggs. It’s not perfect, but lets you know a lot about yourself, and points out the professions you might enjoy.
When used judiciously, the 16 Personality Test can help you avoid pitfalls. It not only guides you to the right slot where you are going to feel comfortable, but it also helps you avoid wasting years slaving away at a job you are not meant for.
2. Do you like the team?
There is no way to evaluate this aspect well from the outside.
However, from Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Monster, and even Reddit and Facebook, you can learn about the corporate culture.
The best is, of course, firsthand accounts from friends, or friends of friends.
A successful organization can build teams that work with a unified vision. The more gossip and office politics, the worse it is for output.
It would be impossible for a team to have no strife among members, but it should be at an acceptable level that does not hinder growth opportunities.
3. Pleasant office culture
You would expect that by now, several years after the Me Too, BLM, and similar social equality movements, most workplaces would have rid themselves of toxic work culture. But, the truth is far more shocking.
From overt racism to sexual harassment that is overlooked with a wink and smirk, there are many types of abuse that thrive in corporate cubbyholes.
Steer clear of these organizations, since they consider employees as disposable.
4. Passion about work
Do your colleagues actually enjoy what they are doing? Or are they zombies going through the motions?
Elite organizations generate exceptional passion. Unless you relish what you do, how can you be part of something that makes an excellent product or service?
5. Know the business
Be sure to investigate the company’s past. If the organization is well known, there are bound to be a ton of news reports about everything from the size of its profits to lawsuits it is facing.
If it’s a new business that is unknown, do a reverse interview without being too obvious about it. Ask the owner or CEO about future prospects.
If they are a tad touchy about it, it’s better to consider other options. They would be equally sensitive when at the end of six months of hard work, you ask for a raise.
The key is job satisfaction. If you are happy with a lower-paying job that requires a short commute, go for it.
If a job offers you less pay, but ample opportunity to work from home, don’t dismiss it outright. You would have more time to take your dog for a walk instead of sniffing gasoline fumes in a freeway traffic.
You do not have to keep up with expectations that others have of you. That is a surefire way to land in the wrong job.
During the interview process, be alert and aware, and if you get the chance, slip in a few questions of your own. It might take you a while to figure it all out, but in a matter of a few years, if not months, you will land the perfect position.
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