Applying for a job? How to ask for benefits.

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By John DeSpagna
Campus News

Google is consistently ranked as one of the best companies to work for. They receive an estimated one million plus resumes each year from those who aspire to become employed in their organization. One of the reasons why? Benefits! They offer a tremendous benefits package to attract and retain employees.

As you begin your career, you need to understand the importance of having good benefits. Organizations want to set up a good benefits plan for their employees but may have limitations due to the availability of financial resources. The benefits plan may include some benefits that are included in your employment and some benefits that you may have to contribute to.  Ask about the benefits after you have been offered a position, and some of the benefits can be negotiated.

At the top of the benefits list for many is affordable healthcare. You may want to start off by seeing if you are covered under your parents’ plan. This may save you money and offer quality coverage. Many employers will offer their full time employees some type of health care coverage. You may be given several plans to choose from and you have to decide which plan best suits your needs. Check the annual deductible, co-pays and what type of contribution you have to make. You may also want to check to see if any pre-existing conditions are covered.

Dental and vision coverage will also be offered by many organizations. With your dentist, it may make sense to go with an approved in-network dentist in your plan for major work rather than your local dentist to save money.

You are starting your career but also need to think long term and realize that you have to save for retirement. Social Security is probably not going to provide you with enough for a comfortable retirement. A 401k plan is offered by many employers to help their employees save for retirement. You select a certain percentage of your pay that will go into the 401k each week, on an automatic basis.

Your contribution to a 401k goes in on a pre-tax basis and grows tax deferred until you take out money. Congress passed this law because they want to help you save for retirement. Take advantage of this. Do you want to be working at age 70 because you have to? You will want to speak to a financial advisor to see how to appropriately invest your contributions based on your needs and risk tolerance.

If you want to further your career, ask about tuition reimbursement. Many employers will reimburse you for associate, bachelor and master degrees. I heard about this benefit while working for a former employer and the employer paid for my M.B.A. degree. This helped my career, and you can take advantage of this benefit, too. Ask questions.

Vacation is a benefit that is important ,and you should take your vacation. The standard with many organizations is two weeks when you start. After a specified number of years of service, the allowable vacation period tends to increase.

Working from home is a benefit that is becoming more common. Studies have shown that employees are more productive when they work from home. The organization benefits from increased productivity, employee satisfaction and reduced office expenses.

Flextime time is another benefit employees may offer to address the family needs of employees. You may work four ten-hour days each week and have off on Friday. Another option is to ask for core hours of say 10 AM to 3 PM and then work around coming in earlier or later depending on what suits you better.

Employers recognize good work, and this may help you be in line for a bonus or some form of stock options. If you can refer an employee to your organization, you may also be able to obtain a referral bonus.

You are going to be spending a lot of time at your chosen employer. Ask questions about your benefits and take advantage of what is offered so you can lead a more fulfilling life and have a prosperous career.

John DeSpagna is a business professor at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York.

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