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Agrimarketing : Career Supplement USA
30 AGRIBUSINESS EMPLOYER GUIDE When college students reach their last year and are closing in on graduation and the "real world," most have their minds on what they'd like to do as a career, who they would like to work for, and how much money they'll make ... but is salary everything? While money is an important factor, many graduates aren't aware of the costs or importance of addi- tional benefits offered by employers. Students of today are better at evaluating these additional benefits, but companies seem to offer all sorts of different packages and evaluating the pros and cons of multiple offers can be overwhelming. In this article, we hope to provide a baseline of information that will help you recall the variety of components that can be available in a package and give you some thoughts on how to best evaluate multiple offers and their benefit packages. Let's begin by talking about salary --- yes it is important! However, in your job search you might find that several companies may offer similar salary compensation and weighing the other components of the job and company become the critical decision factors. As long as you feel the salary is competitive and is in the ball park of your expectations, benefits are the next critical component to consider. (In our opinion, the job itself is most important, followed by company culture/fit, and then salary/benefits.) To begin to compare benefit packages, one needs to know what constitutes a benefit. The definition of an employee benefit, according to Wikipedia, is that it consists of various non-wage compensations provided to employees in addition to their normal wages or salaries. As we mentioned, just about every organization has some different combination of their own unique benefits offering. However, here are some common benefits in traditional packages, a partially paid health insurance plan, a 401(k) investment program (where the employer may or may not have an employer matching contribution), life insurance, paid time-off (vaca- tion, holiday and sick leave), disabil- ity insurance, maternity leave, etc. We are seeing an increasing number of employers offer additional perks such as gym memberships or reim- bursement, tuition reimbursement, wellness programs, and years of service awards. Depending on the job, particularly those in sales or posi- tions that require business travel, there may be additional perks, such as a cell phone/BlackBerry, car allowances, commission, bonuses, business mileage reimbursement, or possibly a company car. If you are going to work from a home office, there is another list of benefits to consider. Will the com- pany pay for your phone and inter- net service? Will they provide you a monthly allowance for office sup- plies? Will they cover the cost to get your office set-up --- office furniture, printer, phone, fax, etc.? Remember that there are unique perks or non-traditional perks that some companies can offer and often get overlooked in the evaluation process, such as dry cleaning service, child care, office celebrations, informal or formal training, athletic ticket funding, shoe shining service, on-site exercise facility, dental or optical insurance, social responsibility programs, etc. The list can go on and on. When you are in the interview and have the opportunity to ask questions of the employer, ask about the benefits available and if there is a list of all of the benefits provided. It is important to learn the details of a benefits plan and you shouldn't be afraid to ask the employer for those details. Not only will this help you understand the benefits clearly, but it also shows your interest and serious- ness about the position. Most employers will be impressed with your ability to think beyond salary. Pay particular attention to the responsibility of coverage for each benefit. Employers can offer benefits but don't always have to pay for them; an example of this might be short-term disability coverage. This isn't necessarily a negative; corpo- rate organizations can often get a SEEING BEYOND SALARY by Kelcy Hanson, AgCareers.com Marketing Associate Accepting your first full-time job offer can be intimidating and reviewing benefit offers and compensation packages for the first time nerve-racking. You can ease those nerves with careful consideration, evaluation and by asking plenty of questions of the employer and then those you trust to help you evaluate that might have past experience in this arena.