Evaluating the Total Job Offer Package

While salary is certainly the most important element of a job offer, it is by no means the only point of consideration. The total job offer package includes all of the benefits and other perks that are provided to you as an employee of the company. One of the biggest errors many college grads make in evaluating an offer is to look exclusively at salary as the sole measure of acceptability of the offer. Benefits seem to be an ethereal element that will never actually be used. The Invincibility Factor ("I'll never be sick, disabled, die, or need to get my teeth cleaned") runs high among many new grads. If you have not been provided a formal benefits package to review by the time the job offer is made, ask that it be sent to you. If you are given the information verbally, take copious notes and ask clarifying questions on any areas you do not understand.

Cost-of-living Comparison

Is an offer for $60,000 in New York City better than a $40,000 offer in Des Moines? While there are a variety of cost-of-living comparisons available, one of the best is provided right here at CollegeGrad.com:

Compare Salary

This cost-of-living calculator will allow you to compare the actual cost of living in hundreds of cities throughout the United States, giving you a better understanding of the true value of your offer. You simply enter a salary, select the base city, then a target city. The salary calculator will respond in seconds with the comparable salary in the target city. You will find yourself playing out several "what ifs" throughout the country. You can also review salaries for over six hundred different occupations at CollegeGrad.com.

And in answer to the original question, $40,000 is worth more in Des Moines than $60,000 in New York. But New York has a lot more to do than Des Moines. But Des Moines has fewer ways to spend your money than New York. So it all evens out in the end.

Relocation Expenses—Yours or Theirs?

Typically yours. Don't even think about getting into the higher-level relocation perks at the entry level. The best you can hope for is that they will pay for the cost of a U-haul or Ryder truck rental and/or your mileage in getting to your new location. Beyond that, you are likely on your own. Full-service movers, house buy-outs, realtor fees, mortgage buy-downs, and other perks will be out there for you in five-plus years. Until that time, everything but the most basic moving and relocation expenses will likely be yours unless otherwise specified.

Items You Can Negotiate

If you feel the offer is unacceptable to you, you must determine what specific changes will make it acceptable. Remember that the answer is not always more money. Real estate agents are great at restructuring purchase offers to make them more attractive, while the bottom-line dollars remain virtually unchanged. The point is, there are more things than money that can make a deal happen. Following are some of the basic areas of job offer negotiation.

Monetaries Near-Monetaries Non-Monetaries
Base Salary Benefits Title
Promised Increases Overtime/Comp Time Training/Education
Yearly Bonuses Mileage Reimbursement Access to Technology
Signing Bonuses Travel Awards Reviews
Profit Sharing Mobile Phone Coverage Travel Assignments
Stock Options/ESOPs Expense Coverage Home Equipment Usage

Although there are many different areas subject to negotiation, it should also be noted that money is usually the first issue that needs to be resolved. If you are seeking $50,000, and they are offering $40,000, there is a major discrepancy. But it is quite different if they are offering $49,000 and you want $50,000. Is a $1,000 differential going to keep you from accepting the position? Is it truly unacceptable? How do you determine what is acceptable and what is unacceptable?

Read more:

Understand All 25 Components of Your Job Offer Benefits Package