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Are You Trading Four Quarters for a Dollar? Total compensation in a nutshell

The tech job market is becoming increasingly more attractive to young professionals. Let’s face it – there are more opportunities for highly skilled technical candidates than there are candidates available to fill these roles. If you’re a recent graduate looking for their first work experience or considering leaving your current employer, then you’ll definitely want to keep reading!

Assuming you’ve sent out your carefully-crafted resume and have landed multiple interviews, you’ll likely receive one or more job offers. Celebrate, but be cautious not to fall into the perils of accepting offers based on salary. When considering a job offer, there’s more to think about than just how much you’re going to be paid.

Salary is, of course, important and it could be the deciding factor in accepting a job offer. However, the other parts of a compensation package are equally as important and are often overlooked. Your paycheck should cover your monthly bills, but you also need to consider other employee benefits, perks and the non-tangible things that make a job the right one for you. It isn’t always as obvious as you may think. Sometimes, you need to compare factors that may seem trivial in order to determine whether a job will be appealing to you in the long term. First, you should start with a solid understanding of what total compensation is.

Simplify your life – consider your total compensation as anything that fits into the following list:

  • What is the new base salary being offered?
  • What is your vacation entitlement for the year?
  • What are the benefits (medical, dental, etc.) offered? Does the new employer cover some of the monthly premium costs?
  • Are there any other perks? These may include the following: a paid-day off on your birthday, free breakfast, Opus card subsidies, etc.
  • What is the total travelling distance? How much time will you spend commuting to and from work?
  • Do you have the option to work from home and flexible scheduling?
  • Are there any opportunities or obligations to travel?
  • What career paths are available for continued professional growth?

Based on these criteria, you’ll be able to gauge what you’re looking for in an employer and make a better decision that fits with your values. You’ll want to use a spreadsheet to help you get a quick overview on how your new offer compares to your current situation or other offers. You’ll only really know if the newly offered base salary is comparable once you tally up the monetary value for each of the aforementioned points. Going through the exercise might actually demonstrate that a higher salary isn’t appealing given everything considered.

Finally, examine the organization’s company culture. Take the time to become familiar with their social presence. Do you have an idea of what life at the company will be like? Do your new colleagues have inspiring career paths? Does anything fun or interesting happen in the day-to-day hustle of the business?


Cristina Zilic