Ask Brianna: How do I evaluate a job offer?
“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I got an offer for a full-time job. How do I decide if it’s right for me, or if the salary is fair?
A: The job hunt can feel like a decathlon: multiple contests, many competitors and one victor — hopefully you.
There are so many individual events, from the resume revamp to the post-interview thank-you note, you may feel nothing but exhaustion by the time you get that congratulatory call or email.
But keep your
energy up. Closely evaluating an offer can be the difference between taking a job you run to and realizing you made a huge mistake, forcing you to start the job-search process again.
Of course, you might not have the luxury of weighing multiple options. But even if you have a single offer, you can still think critically about how to make the best of the opportunity — and whether you want to negotiate for perks you value especially highly, such as health insurance starting on day one.
After doing your happy dance, thank the hiring manager and
request 24 hours to respond. Then use the following framework to assess the position from all angles.
Boost your salary smarts: The proposed salary will have a big effect on your day-to-day lifestyle and your future earning power, so make sure you know what you’re worth.
Use resources such as PayScale or Salary.com to find the average amount your role commands where you live.
Rick Sass, a career coach at Lee Hecht Harrison near Seattle,
recommends having two numbers ready, ideally before the official offer comes in: the salary you want to make (say, $55,000) and a lower amount you’re willing to accept (say, $50,000, which is about the mean wage, or average salary, for 25- to 34-year-olds across all education backgrounds, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
If you haven’t already shared these salary expectations or your pay history, don’t do it just yet.
“The first person who gives a number is generally the loser,” Sass says.
Think beyond base pay: Turn your attention next to benefits such as health insurance and matching retirement contributions. These add up: As of September 2016,
31.4 percent of what employers paid for the average civilian
worker’s total compensation was for nonsalary benefits, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
Ask the hiring manager for a summary of your total package. It should include paid time off, out- of-pocket costs for health insurance and whether your company offers a retirement plan or matching contributions. Check whether there are tenure requirements to participate in any of these programs.
Consider your noncompensation priorities, too. You might want your gig to include a strong social mission, a more reasonable commute, a boss committed to mentoring you or experience working for a big-name company.
If the offer checks most of your boxes for salary, benefits and
values, it’s time to negotiate.
Be flexible and confident: The employer will expect you to negotiate, so don’t let nerves or a fear of seeming overbearing get in the way.
If the proposed salary is lower than what you deserve, say thank you for the offer and then counter with what you believe is approp-riate for your skills and experience.
If salary negotiations stall, ask instead for a nonsalary benefit you value. That could be the option to work remotely one day a week or a signing bonus, Sass says.
— This column was provided to The Associated Press by the per-sonal finance website NerdWallet. Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: