“If you were leaving a company where you had stock options that were close to vesting, would you be better off waiting another year?” Mullikin says.
HOW DOES THE NEW JOB COMPARE?
Perform similar calculations for a job you’re being offered: Add to the proposed pay any employer contributions for benefits and other perks you’re likely to use. If these benefits aren’t clearly laid out, ask for details and specific numbers.
Then check to see if you deserve more. Your current salary may lag what most other employers pay if you’ve worked at the same company for many years, says Lazetta Rainey Braxton, a CFP in Brooklyn, New York. She recommends using sites such as Salary.com to get a feel for what similar jobs pay so you can better assess the offer.
TAKE A DEEPER LOOK
Benefits can take vastly different forms, depending on the company.
Some employers offer a range of health insurance plans from which to choose, while others don’t. If the only option is a high deductible plan, for example, that could be fine if you’re a young, healthy person — or a disaster if you have substantial medical costs and not enough savings to cover the deductible, Mullikin says. Similarly, a plan with a limited network of providers could become expensive if your doctors aren’t included.
Ask about waiting periods, too. Employers can make you wait up to 90 days for health insurance coverage or a year to contribute to a 401(k). Parental and other leave policies can have waiting periods, as well.
Company policies about time off vary enormously, and smaller companies may be exempted from laws that apply to larger ones. For example, companies with fewer than 50 employees typically don’t have to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act that otherwise provides covered workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for caregiving or serious health conditions.
USE YOUR LEVERAGE
Financial considerations must be weighed with all the other aspects of a prospective job. Are there opportunities for advancement? Flexible scheduling and work locations? Is the workforce diverse and the culture engaging?
Risk tolerance matters, too. You may be willing to accept a smaller salary and fewer benefits in exchange for stock options that could deliver a big payoff someday. Or you may prize job security and the opportunity to save for the future more than rolling the dice.
If the job is tempting but the offer is lacking, see if you can negotiate a better deal. You may never have more leverage than you do before you formally accept an offer that’s been extended, says negotiating expert Kwame Christian, director of the American Negotiation Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
Christian recommends negotiating salary and the other financial aspects before you ask for more time off, a flexible schedule or other “creative options” that don’t cost your employer directly.
“You always want to go for the money first,” Christian says. “Because we know that money is exhaustible, but with these creative options, those are really largely inexhaustible.”