More Than Just Salary: Job Benefits to Consider


Negotiating your job offer is about more than just salary.  In order to truly understand your total compensation and bottom line in your bank account here are a few things to consider:

1.  Retirement Benefits
How much does the company contribute and how? Is it a pension or 401k plan?  Do you need to wait to be vested or does it start when you begin employment?

2. Health Care  
What plans are offered and how much is covered by the employer? Are your current doctors included in their plan? You may also want to inquire as to when health care benefits kick in (and when your former employer’s stop). For example, if your former benefits end on the last day of your previous job but your new benefits don’t begin until the 1st of the month after you start the new position this may be something to consider when negotiating start dates.  If you are NOT planning on utilizing the company health care plans because your spouse/partner covers you, you may be able to use this as leverage for a higher starting salary.

3. Flexibility 
In some cases flexibility is just as important as salary. Inquire as to whether the employer offers the opportunity to flex your hours or work from home. Some employers even offer the ability to work 4 10-hour days in lieu of 5, 8-hour days.

5. Transportation Reimbursement
Does the employer cover a portion of your commuting cost –  for example, subway fare or parking? Do they offer the opportunity to purchase these things pre-tax? If they do not cover these costs, what will your commuting expenses be compared to your previous employer?

6. Tuition Remission
Inquire as to whether the employer offers tuition remission and, if so, what the policies are. Things to consider:

  • How much do they cover and for what types of programs?
  • How long do you need to be with the company or organization before you can take advantage of this program?
  • Are there requirements as to low long must you stay once you complete the program?
  • Are there grade requirements?
  • Are you reimbursed for tuition after successful completion of the semester or does the employer pay up front?
  • Are there other options for paid professional development?
  • Are spouses or dependents eligible for tuition remission?

7. Relocation Reimbursement
Some companies will provide a stipend to cover moving costs. Can’t hurt to ask!

8. Vacation and Sick Leave
How much vacation and/or sick leave are you given as a new employee? Does it increase with time? Is it accrued? What are the standard set of company holidays?

9. Technology
Will the company/organization provide you with a lap top, IPhone, and/or IPad or reimburse you for service fees if you use your own? The little things add up!

10. Maternity/Paternity Leave Policies
Even if you aren’t considering a family in the immediate future, if you are considering a family at all this is a worthwhile policy to consider.  FMLA laws in that state will also play a role so look into your state’s policies.

11. Miscellaneous Perks
Depending on the employer they may have other interesting perks. For example, some private schools offer employees free lunch (again, it adds up!) or tuition remission for dependents. Other organizations offer paid time for volunteer activities, company cars, discounted gym memberships, discounted or on-site child care, even bringing your pet to work!

12. Profit Sharing or Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP)
ESOPsprofit sharing plans, and stock bonus plans all differ as vehicles for employee ownership and, depending on the company, this may be a consideration. 

13. Signing Bonus
If the salary is outside your desired range but you would like to consider the offer seriously, see if you can negotiate a one-time signing bonus with the company.  Since that money would not compound, it may be a one time cost that the company is willing to put forth in order to get you on board.   If a signing bonus isn’t an option, consider negotiating for a 6 month review with opportunity for a pay increase at that time.

Image source: www.social-hire.com

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85% of Jobs Are Found Through Weak Ties

… In other words,  connections of connections… friends of friends... In the late 60’s Mark Granovetter became famous for uncovering the strength of weak ties in job searches. Basically, your friends of friends are going to be more helpful than your friends when job searching.   LinkedIn came along in 2003 and has made this theory tangible through its ability to show users a virtual network, getting from A to C through connections.

We recently attended a talk by John Hill, LinkedIn’s Higher Ed Evangelist.  A sweater vest and hoodie wearing alumni career services professional turned LinkedIn devotee.  In short, he gets it. He understands the power of alumni networks and the need to put those networks to work.  Here are just a few of his insights:

  • Over 280 million professionals are on LinkedIn. There are 844,000 current CEO’s on LinkedIn.
  • It’s all about a quality relational network not a quantity relational network. This isn’t a popularity contest and he with the most connections wins.
  • Your resume is currently your job search currency.  John estimates that in 5-10 years your personal brand and online footprint will become that currency.
  • Companies are beginning to slot people for interviews that didn’t even apply for the job based on their online professional brand.
  • Recruiters are pushing that LinkedIn become a normalized piece of the job search process and portfolio. They are using LinkedIn to source talent. Now more than ever, NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a red flag for employers.

The bottom line, he says, is that people need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Here are a few of our key insights that may help you better capitalize on the power of LinkedIn:

1.  Use Endorsements. Just maybe for a different purpose. We’ve all seen the LinkedIn “endorsements” pop up in our inbox.  There have been over 1 BILLION endorsements made on LinkedIn since it was rolled out. Sometimes (maybe oftentimes) these endorsements are from connections that we haven’t even worked with directly.  So, why do they matter?   They matter because they tell you (and others)  about your personal/professional brand – what you are known for.

2.The Alumni Network – There are over 76,000 Georgetown alumni and students on LinkedIn. Click on “Network” and then “Find Alumni.”  What you will see is a quick and easy way to visualize where alumni are, in what companies, and in what fields.  Simply click on one or more of the bars to drill deeper and reset the parameters. This also allows you to view a cross comparative list of schools who are similar to Georgetown in terms of career outcome. Take that, Harvard!  Note: You can change the school visual on the right to toggle between institutions you have attended.

3. Georgetown Alumni Group – There are over 24,000 alumni in the Georgetown University Alumni Group on LinkedIn.  Join the conversation, connect with alumni, start a discussion.

4.  Follow Georgetown University Page Follow the official Georgetown University page for university announcements, notable alumni and influencers, and use an aggregator for Georgetown groups on LinkedIn.

5. Follow Company Pages. Follow company pages to learn about company happenings and to do interview research.  See your connections who work for, or worked for, that company. Note: sometimes people who worked at the company previously are better able to give you a sense of the company. They no longer have a dog in the fight, as John Hill noted.

6. Leverage Insights. LinkedIn has made a huge effort to surface insights to allow you to stay better connected to those in your network.  New jobs, work anniversaries, moves, birthdays, and connections mentioned in the news are now push out to you in your profile and via email.  It’s all about relationship building and these are “prompts” for you to connect or reconnect with those in your network.  Use them.

7.  Follow Industry Groups. Learn about industry trends, buzz, and discussions. Don’t be an aggressive joiner though.  Ask for advice, not jobs. Listen first. Post later.

8.  Take a Cold Call to a Warm Call. Both the insights provided by LinkedIn (see #6) and the interests section, couple with the connection of Georgetown can quickly take a cold call to a warm call (Thank you, John Hill, for that catchy phrase).  While LinkedIn can help manage your contacts, remember, sometimes to connect effectively the conversation happens offline (via phone or in-person).

7. Compile Your Treasury. LinkedIn now allows you to upload powerpoint presentations, links to your blog, videos, etc, effectively creating a portfolio of your work. Use it!

8.  Use It, Students! LinkedIn has added student verticals to help make your profile robust. You can now include projects, languages spoken, publications, and organizations to your profile.  Just because you are a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s a red flag if you don’t.   You can also rearrange the blocks in your profile to re-order based on importance.  Thanks, LinkedIn!

9.  Track Your Outreach. You can use LinkedIn not only as a connection tool but a relationship management tool if you leverage the “notes” section for each of your contacts to track correspondence, etc.

So, tap into the power of the hidden job market by making strategic, quality, connections through relationship building. Tap into the power of your network and your network’s network.  And do it now.  People need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Thank you, John Hill!

Cover Letter 101

Cover letters can feel a bit like your job search thesis. It serves not only as your story, but a writing sample. Think of it this way, if you can’t write about yourself—a subject about which you are the undisputed expert—in an articulate and compelling way, how can you write something for a client or an organization?  Telling your story and selling your experiences isn’t always so easy so here are some tips to get you started.

1.  Tailor it.  Even companies and hiring managers want to feel special.  They can spot a templated cover letter from a mile away.  Avoid this by tailoring each and every cover letter you send.  In the first paragraph make sure to discuss why you are interested in the position and why that company/organization.  And not just that it’s a “great company” or you “like their mission.” Take it a step further – why is it a great company and what do you identify with as part of their mission?

2. Make sure it’s a final draft.  Cover letters, like resumes, often get tossed aside due to typos and other errors. Make sure yours is error free, your grammar and punctuation is correct, and you are using the proper business format.  The number one way to make sure your cover letter and resume make it to the trash bin is by including the wrong company name (you’d be surprised how much this happens)!  Double check you are submitting the correct version before you hit “send.”

3. Format for ease.  Send a pdf version if possible to avoid conversion issues.

4. Make it short & sweet. Cover letters should take up no more than a page, typically about 3 paragraphs.

  • Paragraph 1: Indicate the position  you are applying for and why you are interested in that position with that company/organization (see #1). It also includes a brief synopsis of your skill set.
  • Paragraph 2: This is the most important paragraph, summarizing the top 2-3 skills you bring to the table with specific examples.  This is the one that difficult to nail.  Package your experience/background/skills in a way that addresses exactly what the organization seeks in candidates.  Make sure the skills you discuss are relevant to the job description and the skills they are seeking. Do NOT just repeat your resume. Provide the context and connect the dots. Tell your story.
  • Paragraph 3:  Reiterate your interest and contact information.

5.  Avoid “To Whom It May Concern.”  If possible, determine the hiring manager and address it to them directly. This can often be researched online or via networking with contacts at that company or organization.

6. Email vs. Attachment?  If you are e-mailing a resume and cover letter, you have two options. You can put the cover letter in the message section of the e-mail itself or you can attach it (ideally as a pdf). If you attach it, make sure you include some type of message in the email body referencing the attached cover letter and resume. Of course, you should follow directions if an employer requests a specific way to send your cover letter and resume.

7. Eliminate the fluff.  Interpersonal skills… multi-tasking skills… enthusiastic… passionate. All fluff. UNLESS you are able to provide specific examples.  Instead of just saying you multi-task well, prove it.  Anyone can say they are enthusiastic even if they are the company Eeyore.  Prove your enthusiasm by showcasing your research into the position and company.

8.  Think about your story.  How does your combination of skills, education, and experience set you apart from the competition?

9.  Do your homework.  Make sure you not only research the company and position but demonstrate that research in your cover letter.  Part of this is knowing your audience and making sure that both the skills discussed in your cover letter, as well as the tone of your cover letter, align with the position and company/organization.  A cover letter for an investment bank will likely read differently than one for a start up.  Companies are looking for “cultural fit.”

10.  Be a problem solver.  At the end of the day, that’s what companies and managers are looking for.  They want someone who will make their job easier.  Prove that you can do that. 

How have you made your cover letter stand out?  Check out our webinar archive for cover letter related webinars like this one.

Starting A New Job? Tips for Making the Transition

Starting a new job?  The first few weeks can be a combination of being overwhelmed and bored all at the same time! It’s not always possible to truly “hit the ground running” – you may not own your projects fully quite yet and you haven’t learned just how to get things done in the company or organization.  Here are a few tips to hopefully make the transition a bit smoother.

1. Listen.  If you jump in too quick and forget to listen and learn first it can really rub people the wrong way.  Take a bit of time to learn the ropes, hear about the history of various projects, teams, and initiatives, and understand your stakeholders.  You need to do a little market research before you can make an appropriate and informed impact. 

2.  Learn the culture.  It’s the little idiosyncrasies of company culture that  can be tough to pick up on… So don’t be afraid to ask.  For example, how are meetings coordinated? Are people more apt to use email or phone for quick questions?

3.  Go on tour.  Meet with key stakeholders, members of other teams you may interact with as well as teams you may not interact with as much.  Learn the entire organization so you can understand the big picture of the impact of your work.  Start with those closest to your role and then go from there.  There may be opportunities for collaboration and innovation that haven’t happened in the past.

4.  Learn the language.  What office lingo do people use or not use and what does that lingo mean in this particular organization (it can vary slightly from company to company).  Learn the acronyms. Learn the stock phrases.  Learn the voice of the organization.

5.  Get to know your boss.  What is most important to them?  What are their pet peeves and preferences?  Don’t be afraid to ask those questions! Check out our post on managing up to learn more!

6.  Play the “new” card..  Use it as an excuse to learn and connect with people across the organization!

7.  Be entrepreneurial.  While you’re waiting to fully “own” your projects figure out smaller ways to make an impact.  Prove your value by identifying some problems and solutions.  In the absence of work or direction in the first few weeks, don’t just check facebook! Keep busy by creating your own projects and concept papers to be presented later.

8.  Find other newbies.   You can learn the ropes together.

9.  Look around. Notice people’s schedules, the dress code, what people do for lunch, how people interact.  Just paying attention can teach you alot about the organization.

10.  Ask questions. But not too many.  There is definitely a balance between asking questions so that you learn what you need to know for your new position and being able to seek that information out and learn on your own.  Our advice: try to find the information first or, at least the person with the information, before you ask your manager. Managers value those who do research and are autonomous when appropriate.

When all else fails, baked goods can always help make a few friends!  What are your tips for navigating the first few weeks of a new job?

Virtual Career Fair How To’s

One downside to virtual career fairs  is the lack of fun company stressballs, pens, and mints.  Fortunately, there’s an upside: you can wear your PJ’s.

Last week we posted that we are hosting a virtual career fair for GU alums interested in connecting with startups and small businesses.  According to Market Research Media, the virtual conference and trade show market more than doubled between 2009 and 2011 (pmi.org).  Virtual events are expected to be a US$18.6 billion industry by 2018 – and many of those will be virtual job fairs.

Getting the most out of a virtual career fair requires more than just logging in so here are some tips:

1.  Check your internet connection.  Nothing like connecting with your dream organization and having your internet crash.

2. Research. Research the companies in advance as you would for any career fair.  Since virtual career fairs provide connections through online chats, you don’t want to waste precious time gathering company information and details that you can find out in advance. Bypass the general and move directly into the meat of the conversation.  Also research the platform and format of the virtual event you will be attending.

3.  Upload your information early.  You want to make sure everything goes smoothly, things are formatted properly, and that your information is available to employers if they take a peek at attendee information before the fair.

4. No hashtags. Since the connections are made through online chatting, it can be tempting, or even habit, to use emoticons or instant messenger lingo – DON’T.  While you may be a wizard at using clever hashtags on Twitter, save those for the twitterverse.  #needajob #loveyourcompany #hireme

5.  Follow Up.  Remember the name of the person you chatted with so you can google them later.  Just like any career fair or job interview,  show your interest, enthusiasm, tenacity, and gratitude by following up with the company/employer/recruiter with a note.  Attach your resume so the recruiter doesn’t have to search for it.

6.  Have an updated and completed LinkedIn profile.  It’s the next logical step in investigating candidates during or after the fair.  Also make sure your overall presence on social media including Facebook and Twitter is appropriate.

Some say that while you can do a Virtual Career Fair in your PJ’s and slippers, you should still dress up in order to bring out your most professional self.  I personally, think I would still opt for the comfort of PJ’s. But that’s just me.

Have you participated in a virtual career fair and have some tips? We want to hear!