By Dennis Emo

Keep encouraged, there is the perfect job out there just for you.

I recently have been assisting an individual that has been looking for work for over a year.  A position became open that was a very good fit. The company loved him and he was scheduled to begin on Tuesday. (One year from the date of their severance) . The Monday before his start date, he got the call from his “dream job”.  More money and better benefits!  Strange how all of it came together, but God doesn’t make mistakes.

The employment market is beginning to loosen up a bit in the area and you have finally gotten that long awaited interview.  You are primed and well prepared to respond to that opening question…….tell me about yourself…..  Have a “canned” response ready, well prepared and practiced that will summarize your characteristics, major accomplishments and why you want the job.Always have plenty of questions and answers that are hopefully going to make you the top candidate for the job. When you are leaving the office of the hiring manager, one of the last questions you would ask, “What are the next steps?”  (Be sure to send a thank you note following the interview as that just puts you a cut above your competition.)

When the offer comes you have some decisions to make. Is this a standard offer letter including only a salary with barebones benefits or does it include some extra perks? Most offers will come with the salary and the standard verbiage of basic benefits. There is more out there but it is up to you to go after it. The package that you accept in your final offer will be the foundation for your total period of employment. You should request a copy of the company handbook and complete benefit plans (Summary Plan Descriptions) before going forward with any further negotiations.

The entire benefit package should be thoroughly reviewed before acceptance.You need to understand exactly what they are offering.Â
401k retirement plans are areas that cannot be manipulated. These plans have strict guidelines for vesting, company match and deferral amounts that are set up in the company plan document and then governed by the IRS.

Requesting a sign on bonus to assist with prior COBRA obligation or insurance coverage’s is an area to pursue.Many companies do not allow the benefits to begin for 90 days. The level of coverage along with contributions amounts for health coverage and life insurance is a nonnegotiable item as they are structured through a plan document.
Vacation time can be an area to request addition time when you are first hired. Your prior employment may have offered more vacation to you, based on your years of service, which may have given you a richer benefit. This is an easy justification as you request “another week” of vacation from your future employer. This is also the time to request flex hours or work from home one or more days a week.

Avoiding transpiration cost puts money right straight into your pocket.You may need that flex time for day care arrangements and to avoid penalties for being tardy when picking up children.

Some positions provide you with a vehicle which is a wonderful benefit and a huge cost savings for you. If not in the package, this can be an area to review along with parking fees, if that will be an issue for you.

Company rental vehicles will sometime be available to the employee to purchase under book value when they are traded in.It is not worth spending a great deal of time or effort to place this into your package as it also comes along with claiming the savings on your income tax so it becomes a wash.

If your offer letter does not include a bonus plan, work diligently to get one in there.Various types could be available from profit sharing to attaining individual or group metrics that could be set annually.Requesting the average bonus of the last three years for employees similar to your job description and classification will give you an estimate of this benefit.

If the long term bonus plan is not going to be part of your ongoing compensation, you can request a onetime sign on bonus. This request would be made in the final round of your negotiations.

Tuition reimbursement is an area that can be approached in the negotiations. Requesting additional funds not only will assist you financially but will indicate to the hiring manager that continuing education is a priority for you.

You may find you are requesting a benefit that is not currently provided by your prospective employer. You are not going to receive it if you don’t ask for it. This may also stimulate the decision maker to provide other benefits that keeps them competitive in the market. So don’t hold back.

Be sure to get all negotiated items in writing so you can place them in your personnel file at a later time. The excitement of acquiring a job after being displaced for a period of time can override your common sense. You do not want to settle for the first offer placed in front of you. Now is the time to accept, reject or negotiate salary and benefits when the offer letter is received by you. If you accept the position and begin the hiring process, companies usually will not entertain any form of additional compensation or benefit adjustments. The time for any negotiations is before y9ur offer is accepted.

You have received the offer.The tables have turned from the point of you first knocking at the door with a resume in hand.They are now pursing you. It is a great position to be in. You could even receive a “stay offer” from your current employer; think long and hard if you even consider it at all. Your company knows your loyalty may have shifted and could affect your relationship going forward. Negotiating your package coming in the door is a huge decision that if formulated correctly can benefit you and your family for the rest of your life.


Dennis Emo