Pays to check real deal with jobs

By Tom O'Neil

Pay packages with touted extras can vary tremendously in real value.
Pay packages with touted extras can vary tremendously in real value.

Great news job seeker! Your skills are massively in demand and you receive two job offers on the same day! One has a lot more money, so that's obviously the role of choice isn't it?

Before you sign on the dotted line however, make sure you do a bit of thinking around what the opportunities are offering, so you can compare "apples with apples".

With terms such as "great benefits including healthcare, kids' school holiday programmes, access to holiday homes nationwide and much more", it pays to look at the true value of the offering, rather than just rejecting a great opportunity based on cold hard cash.

Comparing packages effectively The key differences between a job of $100,000 versus $95,000 plus benefits is not clear. What are those extras worth in real world terms?

A car can vary tremendously in relation to its worth to an employee. If it's only for work use (such as a work van), it's only really saving you buying petrol to get to and from work.

But living on the outskirts of the Super City can cost you more than $30 return to the CBD in a medium car. Multiple this by 240 working days, and the cost of your travel to and fro is more than $7200 (not counting PAYE) a year.

So a car with unlimited kilometres (including personal use such as skiing trips and summer jaunts) can be worth thousands of dollars. Factor in maintenance, parking and so on and the dollars really start to stack up.

Subsidised learning and development opportunities such as completion of an MBA course or PRINCE 2 certification are a very valuable benefit for you today and in the future.

Health and life insurance are also big winners in the benefits stakes. For senior management roles these are common but some packages include family cover which can be a real plus.

One major NZ bank also offers kids' school holiday programmes, which removes a giant amount of stress for parents. Besides the cost of child care, you don't want to leave your most treasured family members with just anyone over the holidays.

Other great benefits include cheap rental of holiday homes nationwide and staff discounts that come in handy around Christmas time.

Living the lifestyleWhile this is not normally factored into in a package, remember lifestyle is king. Where you work and live is important if you don't want to spend 20 plus days a year stuck in traffic. Great options include flexi-time that lets you work the hours that suit you best, or a good work-from-home policy that lets you grind through your email box and task list at home on a Friday.

Living and working in choice parts of the country can also provide an intangible benefit to your salary package. Jobs based in places such as Nelson and Gisborne regularly highlight the annual hours of sunlight they receive, as well as their natural beauty.

Also factor in roles that mean more to you emotionally than others. If you are environmentally focused, a job at Greenpeace paying 25 per cent less than a role in the business world may be a sacrifice you are willing to make.

A company's culture is important too. As a young HR Consultant to Sovereign Assurance in the 90s, I loved their "go for it" culture as well as the dragon boating team I belonged to.

Many people fall into the trap of swapping to a new job for an extra $5000, to suddenly find they are in a poor and non-engaging culture. How much is loving your job worth?

Finally, the profile and brand recognition a company has is also important for your long-term career. Having "Deloitte" in your CV, versus a fourth-tier accounting practice should be self-evident.

Warning aheadBe wary of ads that trumpet figures such as "$250,000 OTE". OTE stands for "On Target Earnings", and includes your total income, based on you achieving your sales or business targets for the year.

Questions you should ask include "does this figure include a base, and if so, how much is it?" Also ask how many people reach OTE, and what the average salesperson earns a year. You should soon find out whether $250k is actually a realistic figure you could receive in the year. As well as this, learn if any bonuses are included in the package, and try to discover how achievable these actually are.

Best case scenarioOf course we have all heard of the amazing perks workers get in those big United States-based corporations.

Google NZ and Australia offer a range of extra benefits most of us will never see in our lifetime.

These include on-site doctors and nurses in some areas, comprehensive healthcare coverage, legal aid , travel insurance and emergency assistance (even when travelling personally), in excess of all the standard benefits that a large corporate provides.

New parents also get time off, as well as some extra cash to help them welcome their new bundle of joy.

If you are lucky enough to work at Google in America, there were more than 100,000 hours of subsidised massages last year, as well as its three new "wellness centres" and a 2.8ha sports complex, which includes a roller hockey rink as well as courts for basketball, bocce and shuffle ball.

Apples and applesAt the end of the day, it all comes down to your needs and how the benefits best stack up for you.

As a two-parent working family, having holiday childcare and full dental is wonderful, while a single 20-something may be more focused in the pure dollars that will flow through the door.

Remember that loving your job, having challenges that excite you and some flexibility in what you do will ensure that you love your job, and all the perks and benefits will be trimmings, rather than the key decider in whether you take a new position or not.

Tom O'Neil is international author of Selling Yourself to Employers, award-winning speaker and MD of both Outplacement.co.nz and CV.CO.NZ. You can contact tom at tom@cv.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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