Understand Your Total Compensation Package

The last step of the job offer process will typically involve the employer offering you a compensation package. Of course, this will include your base salary, but it also contains so much more. If this is your first job, it can be confusing or even overwhelming to try and figure out what it all means. To help you better understand it, we’ve broken down what compensation packages commonly include and shared some advice from our hiring experts on how to decide what offer is best for you.

Total Compensation Package 101
A total compensation package includes much more than just your base salary. It also includes any bonuses, medical, dental, and vision coverage, the opportunity to pay into a 401k, a pension, and time off (both paid and unpaid). Traci, a hiring expert from Accenture, explains, “All of these things should be included in your offer, but it doesn’t mean the monetary value of them will be [included]. Your salary and total compensation are two very different things. For example, if you’re offered an $80k salary with health, dental, vision, PTO, and other fringe benefits, your total compensation might be $95k.”1 Of course, there is a number of additional benefits that may be offered to you, such as free lunch, a public transportation card, or reimbursement for your cell phone. Yet, the most common (and valuable) benefits are usually insurance coverage, paid time off, and retirement planning.

Ask What Your Compensation Package Includes
In order to completely understand the offer, you need to know the right questions to ask. Stephanie, a hiring expert from AT&T, shares what she considers the most important questions regarding each element of your compensation package.

  • “Is there a company or position-based bonus? Is it a percentage or a lump sum? When will it be paid out?
  • What is the insurance copay, deductible, and maximum out of pocket? If I am currently under the care of a doctor, is that doctor covered by my new insurance?
  • What is the 401k match provided by the company?
  • Is there a pension? What percentage is being contributed? When will I be fully vested?
  • How many Paid Time Off days am I receiving? Am I eligible to take them immediately or will I need to earn them over the course of the year?”2

Evaluate The Value For Your Needs and Lifestyle
So now that you know the common elements of a compensation package, it’s time for you to evaluate it. You may have several offers that you are considering, or you may be negotiating one offer. Either way, it is important to look at the compensation package and decide if it includes the things that are most important to you.

First and foremost, decide what salary you need to feel comfortable. After that, take a step back and evaluate your lifestyle. How much vacation do you think you’ll use? What are your healthcare needs? Are you someone who only sees a doctor occasionally or are you someone who requires frequent medical care? All of these questions are important to ask yourself because your needs may be different than someone else’s.

If you still have questions after reviewing everything provided to you, reach out to human resources or the recruiter you’ve been in contact with. Traci offers the following advice: “It’s okay, and expected, to take your time reviewing your offer. You’ll likely receive some form of verbal offer first, followed by a written or electronic document offer. Once you have the documents, take your time and review everything!”3 Just like salary, benefits can be negotiated, so make sure you are getting the best offer and don’t be afraid to ask for something more if you feel you deserve it.


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