sluggo wrote:Congrats on the degree and here's hoping the offers are good!
First off, I would almost completely discount any retirement benefits. Unless you're looking at civil service positions, retirement plans are being de-funded at nearly every employer in the country. The companies, particularly those in tech, know that their money is better spent on current business. Most employees fully expect to change jobs several time in their careers, and companies which recognize this and shift benefit dollars to something employees actually plan to use will end up with better talent. And why be handcuffed to a job you don't like by a retirement plan that may not actually be there when you're ready to leave? There's not many companies that actually have "retirement" plans anymore, other than the standard 401k and (often) some level of company match.
Consider a company that offers benefits that you would actually use. A standard package of health benefits could be useful if you're often sick, but one of the things companies love about college hires is that they rarely use the medical plan. If you sense some flexibility in this area, maybe someone's willing to offer LASIK, full orthodontia, and other perks that might be more valuable to you. Discuss it at the last meeting when the actual offer is on the table.
My first job was with a company that had a full company match on dollars spent by the employee on company stock, up to a cap. For me, this amounted to an immediate 12 percent raise on my base pay. Take a good look at benefit like that, as it can be a significant perk, even if all you do is exercise and sell immediately. If you hold the stock and it's value increases, so much the better.
Options can be iffy. The typical plan has a 25/25/25/25 vesting schedule over a 4-year span. Any options you plan to exercise are immediately taxable as regular income in the year that you exercise. Any gains you make on the sale price versus the strike price are taxed as normal stock sales, which means you have to hold it for a year or be taxed at the short-term capital gains rate. If the options and the company are attractive, I'd recommend a tax attorney to help you sleep at night and to stay out of the IRS's crosshairs.
Sluggo is partially right but there are those companies that DO take care of their employees. My company not only has a a rocking 401K with matching plan on T.Rowe Price it ALSO offers a pension for those that achieve the Rule of 80. (The Rule of 80 is where your combined years of work plus your age equal 80).
Companies like mine are rare and looking at the Fortune 200 list there are only 5 (mine included) that offer these benefits.
IF you get a job offer from one of these I would tell you outright to seriously accept it. Even if in 5-10 years you do decide to job hop you will be in a good position retirement wise.
Speaking of retirement. As I learned early on, you are young and need to save the max EACH year. The first 5-10 years are critical when it comes to your retirement. I know a nice paycheck looks good now and you can finally afford things but I strongly suggest you skimp now and save and then when you reach 40, have a family, etc you can skimp a bit.
Save, save, save! You'll be in a better position in the long run.
Touching on other benefits, we don't really know what effect ObamaCare will have on medical expenses. (Trying not to get too political) I can forsee a lot of companies dropping a health care plan and just giving their employees some sort of lump sum and tell them to go find their own. But again we don't really have a clue as to what is going to happen.
Lastly, Bonuses both signing and yearly bonuses. While both of these are quite attractive usually they are the first to go when a company decides to tighten its belt. so take them with a grain-of-salt. Yearly bonuses are only good if they do a company wide one and not a performance one. If everyone in the company gets a Christmas/year end bonus its usually good.
Some other things to look at are Company paid equipment. Phones, computers, etc. In this day and age a lot of companies are switching to a BYOC (Bring your own computer) to work to cut costs. Some companies even give a lump sum for a computer of your choice with their recommended specs. You go buy the computer/laptop and buy a service plan along with it. This is a meh issue. It has its ups and downs
thats all that comes to mind right now but if I think of anything else I will post.