Recent grads and millennials are entering a job climate where long-term position stability is weak. Most young people will spend only a few years in their first position and are likely to work for several different organizations before retirement. If you are seeking your first professional position, be sure to look closely at benefit packages and the expected work-life balance by asking these important questions during the job interview process before accepting a position.
1. Do You Have a Student Loan Repayment Plan?
Student loan repayment plans are a fairly new benefit that some companies offer to help their employees pay down debt. If you are a recent grad with student loans, this type of benefit could greatly increase the worth of the total compensation offered by a company. If the company does offer a student loan repayment option, ask for the specific details. How much do they contribute? Is the benefit given upfront or does the company reimburse you for a portion of the payments you make? How long do you have to work for the organization before the benefit starts?
2. What Are the Details of Available Retirement Plans?
As a recent grad, you may not think it’s necessary to give your retirement much thought, but the sooner you start building that fund, the better off you will be in the future. Find out when you'll be eligible to contribute to the company's 401(k) or alternative retirement plan. Ask how much the company contributes. Find out how long you have to work for the company before the employer's contributions are secure if you leave. Consider how long you anticipate working for the company when weighing the value of the retirement plan.
3. How Much Do You Contribute to Health Insurance Premiums and Health Savings Accounts?
It is easy to discount health insurance benefits when you are a recent grad, especially if you are young and healthy. In reality, your health is never certain, and your employer's contributions to payments for health insurance or a health savings account are another part of your total compensation package that should be considered when comparing positions. Contributions can vary greatly, even among similar companies in the same industry. While you are talking about insurance, ask about life and disability insurance options also.
4. How Can I Move Up in the Company?
Recent grads often want to make a difference in the world, but entry-level positions typically lack excitement and involve a certain amount of drudgery. During the job interview process, ask about opportunities for growth with the company and how the position you are applying for impacts the organization as a whole.
5. What Flexibility Does the Position Offer?
Flexible scheduling improves your work-life balance, and flexible job responsibilities provide you with variety and opportunities for growth. Watch out for interviewers who might exaggerate the flexibility of a position. If flexibility is important to you, ask for specific examples of how the organization has supported flexible work options in the past.
When looking for an entry-level position in your field, ask specific questions about retirement plans, insurance and other benefits that add to the total compensation package. Recent grads should also look into opportunities for advancement and flexibility to better compare similar positions.
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