Base Salary Isn’t Everything

Lets face it, the job market sucks right now. Companies are shrinking, banks are closing left and right, and automobile factories are closing everywhere. For those of us that still have a job we are counting our blessings, those of you who are looking for jobs are trying to find someone willing to hire. One thing people tend to overlook when job hunting is the benefits outside of just the face dollar value of a job. When you go in for an interview they always give you a chance to ask questions at the end. You don’t want to screw up your interview so make sure you use that opportuinty to ask about the job. Better yet, ask the interviewee’s what, other than the money, is awesome about this employer. The answers to that question could very well seal the deal for you.

401k Match

Everyone talks about how great matching is. The fact is every employer doesn’t offer matching. There is nothing that says they have to so don’t expect your future employer to do it. For those of us who do get matching, it is “free” money on top of what we are getting as a base salary. I say “free” because you usually have a set period of time you have to work for an employer before you are fully vested in their matching portion of your 401k. Free money is free money though so don’t count this benefit out when looking for a job.


Pensions seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. I personally lucked into working for an employer that still offers pensions. Whether or not it will still be around 90 years from now when I am able to retire I don’t know. Pensions are just another source of  “free” money. Again you are going to have to wait a specified amount of time until you are vested, but anytime after that you can retire. I only have one more year until I can “retire”” as a fully vested employee.

Flex Hours

Flex hours are basically a fluid kind of work day. You have a set number of hours and the option of when to work them. For instance you could work four 9 hour days and one 4 hour day starting a 7am every day. Or you could work 5 8 hour days starting at 8:30 every day. Either way you are working 40 hours a week but the flexibility in setting your schedule allows you the time to take care of what you need to. If you have to get kids to school in the morning it may work better for you to start later in the day. Having an employer who participates in this kind of scheduling is great, especially for working parents.


Flex hours are pretty cool, they let you get some stuff done. If you add to that the ability to work from home, well then you are onto something.  If you happen upon an employer who not only supports, but encourages you to work from home you should jump on it. Working from home is a benefit most people don’t get, but it rocks. I work from home 90% of the time and I love every minute of it. Your phone rings less, less people bother you, and you can get more done with you music blaring. It is my number one benefit of where I work and I wouldn’t give it up for the world, well maybe $30k, that would do it.


When you sit down to a panel interview with the people who are going to be your peers and they say how great management is, they are probably telling the truth. They have no incentive to lie to you unless they are trying hire you to be their manager or their bitch.  A good manager is worth a lot of money even if you don’t think so right now. You can learn more in one year of working for a quality boss than you could making $20k more working for a POS leader. A good boss cares about your development and trains you to replace them. Look for one of those regardless of your starting salary.

Health Care

Most employers offer health benefits, the thing you need to be wary of is just how much those benefits are going to cost you. You could have two separate job offers on the table but if one of them is a lot less but  includes free health benefits and the other charges you $200 per paycheck but pays you more you could be better off with the lesser paying job. Make sure you take into account the costs of your healthcare benefits when looking at competing job offers.

I know I could probably find a job making more money for another employer, the fact is though I get almost every benefit I just listed. Health care isn’t free with my employer, but it is through my wifes. Still, I think you would be hard pressed to find an employer that has great management, flex hours, telework, 401k matching, and a pension. It would take a considerably larger chunk of change for me to give up my current job to go work for someone who didn’t offer me these same array of non salary benefits. Did I mention I get a pension?

{ 1 comment }

1 Financial Samurai November 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Well said. Too many times, people take for granted or overlook their health insurance benefits. This is a real cost to employers and is worth often times 5-$10,000/yr easily!


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