At some point, each one of you will have the opportunity to evaluate a job offer.
It will be a blissful, exciting and nerve racking day. You'll get the call and be very excited and thrilled that your search is over. You'll agree to just about anything because the thought of going on one more informational interview or combing the job interview sites makes you want to cry.
Get a grip.
After you go on your second interview at a company, chances are they're pretty serious about you. Doesn't mean that you're guaranteed to get the job, but it does mean that the next phone call could be to ask for your list of references and hopefully later make you the offer.
So when you're thinking rationally-make a list of what you expect and hope for from this job. Here's a checklist of the basics to ask about before you say yes or no.
Vacation: Most jobs start out with 2 weeks as a standard, but if you've been in the job market a while and are used to a few more weeks, you can ask if they are negotiable on this point considering that you had x number of weeks at your last job. You can also ask if they have a list of company holidays, or do they take half days on Fridays during the summer. Maybe between what they're offering and some of these other perks it could make up for what you might have had to give up.
Health Benefits: Find out how much you're currently paying per pay period for your benefits. Most people don't know this off the top of their heads, and without this information you would have no real basis for comparison with the new company. You can also ask the new company for the name of their HMO and check to see if your favorite doctors are part of the plan. You should also ask about their family plans (if applicable), and the extent of their vision or dental coverage.
401K: The important question here is if the company matches your contribution. You can also ask if there's any sort of cap on the amount that you can contribute. If you're financially astute, you can ask who manages the company plan.
Gym or health club benefits: Some companies have a gym on site that you can take advantage of, or reduced rates at a health club. If that's important to you, you'll want to ask. Personally I wouldn't walk away from a job if that wasn't a benefit, but you want to know what you are accepting.
Those are the biggies, but you want to write down every benefit you have available to you at your current job and rank them in order of importance.
When you're on the phone with the interviewer, take notes on the details of the offer, and ask for them to send you this information in writing. Via email is perfectly fine. Then devise a strategy if would like to improve the offer somehow.
If the salary isn't what you hoped it would be, you can ask the company if it's possible for them to increase it. Your fallback position is to let them know that you would like a performance review after 6 months to discuss a pay increase at that time.
With regard to health benefits, gym perks and 401K match, you're pretty much stuck with what plans they currently have in place. Most companies do a yearly review of their benefits packages, so you can hope that it will change in subsequent years.
It's OK to negotiate the offer, but always be respectful and appreciative. Don't take the position that you deserve more than what they are offering. You're asking if it's possible for them to meet you halfway, not demanding or expecting that they will up the ante during your high power negotiation.
© Red Inc. Melanie Szlucha. You can republish this information as long as paragraph below is printed exactly as it is written
Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 10 years. She founded Red Inc. (http://www.redinc.biz ) two years ago to help people become more relaxed and prepared during the job interview process. Combining presentation and communication skills with her experience in conducting job interviews, she is able to coach job applicants through landing their perfect job. Ms Szlucha is also a job interview forum moderator on the site careercube.net. She is available for individual coaching, classes for employers and interviewees and can be contacted on her website or melanie at redinc.biz