By Essie Bester
You did extremely well at your job interview and received a job offer. Then comes the part people fear most – negotiating the salary and benefit package with their potential employer.
Perhaps you want the job so much that you want to skip this discussion and simply accept whatever the employer is prepared to offer you – in this way you avoid a situation in which you could insult your potential employer and miss the opportunity. However, experts warn that his could be an expensive mistake.
To many young people who are just starting their careers fears about this aspect arise from the fact that they do not know what questions to ask and when they should ask them. Discussing your salary is self-evident but what other things should you ask and possibly negotiate about and when should you do it?
It is generally best to wait until you are made an offer (unless the interviewer raises the subject) before you ask questions about matters such as salaries and benefits. Premature questions about this could be taken as presumptuous and create the impression that you are only interested in the financial aspect of the job. Moreover, you cannot negotiate at this stage because you have not yet been offered the job.
In order to judge whether a salary is acceptable, you will first have to find out what the job entails and what the total benefit package is. Therefore, first hold back your financial questions.
The financial questions to ask when you consider a job offer:
- What is the company’s policy regarding employees’ retirement plans?
Company-sponsored retirement plans are very good choices. Depending on the retirement programme, part of your contribution could be sponsored by your employer. Today this is a particularly important question as some companies have stopped their retirement programmes in reaction to the poor economy.
The answer will help you understand how much you should start saving over the short term to reach your long-term goals. Because this could have a big impact on long-term savings, it could definitely be a decisive factor when you have to chose between different job offers.
- Does the company offer medical-fund benefits?
Not all companies offer medical-fund benefits. Usually companies that offer medical-fund benefits as part of their service contracts have a designated advisor in the scheme to help employees find the most suitable plan for their circumstances and family situations. Make sure that you find out about this so that you can make an informed decision regarding the job offer.
- Do I qualify for a bonus?
If so, does my job offer include just my basic salary or bonuses as well? Not all businesses offer bonuses and not all employees qualify for bonuses. It is therefore important to understand what your total remuneration packet is made up of. If, for instance, you are offered a basic salary, you should ask whether you qualify for bonuses and what is required in order to qualify for it. Is it based on performance? What types of criteria determine performance? Is it merely based on the number of years you have been working for the business?
- Is overtime paid and who qualifies for overtime?
Before you accept a job offer it would be good to ask what the core hours are that you will have to work and how you will be remunerated for overtime. Many hourly posts come with overtime. Find out so that you can keep record and submit your forms for overtime remuneration.
- Do I qualify for devices that belong to the business (e.g. a cell phone and/or a laptop that I will need to do my work)? If not, will I be compensated for it?
Mobile devices are a big expense. If, for instance, your cell phone account is paid, you can save quite a lot every month. Therefore, find out whether you qualify for devices that you are going to need in the execution of your duties for the business. Are you going to be compensated for devices or do they have a data/cell phone plan and what portion of the account is going to be paid by the business?
- Will the business help me pay removal costs?
Moving can be very expensive, especially if you are moving a long distance or overseas. The costs between cities vary and does not include the time you need to take time off from work to pack your belongings. Many firms have removal policies and packages. Find out about this before accepting a job for which you will have to move so that you can prepare financially.
- Can I review the benefit package?
Benefits include everything, from pension and health insurance to share options and holiday time. Each business’s package is unique. It is therefore important to decide in advance what is most important to you (holiday time may be more valuable to you than an accompanying retirement plan). Something else to consider when you plan your transition, is when your benefits will commence, especially your health cover. It could, for example, take a month or more before you have cover.
- Does the business have a compensation programme for further study?
This is very important if you intend to study further. Make sure you understand how it works. The compensation could for instance be partial only or there could be applicability issues (you must, for example, have been working there for a certain period, take a degree in a programme related to your discipline, etc.). If you know that you qualify for a refund of tuition fees, you can do financial planning for your future degree.
- Another question to consider if you work in the CBD, is what is the business’s policy regarding parking? Some employers offer compensation for travelling and/or parking costs or a bus ticket, and some employers even offer their employees a commuter service.
Frequently asked questions about your pay https://www.atthatpoint.co.za/sara-newsroom