Having a conversation about your compensation package during the interview process can be nerve-wracking. But it doesn’t have to be: Remember that this is often just the start of the conversation. As a talent advisor at OfferZen, I’ve helped many developers land their dream jobs. Here are the steps to help you get all the facts you need to make an informed choice on your offer.
There’s a new opportunity knocking, and an offer is coming your way! But before diving into your new commitment, it’s important to get the full picture of what your new offer looks like.
Your goal should be to gather all the knowledge you need about the company and the package on the table. This will help you avoid surprises at the last minute, and make more informed choices about the role.
Here are some concrete steps to get the all the facts you need on your job offer, so you can decide if you are happy to sign:
1. Identify what type of offer would make you excited
Before you do anything else, do your homework and some hard thinking.
A good first step is to establish your salary range and where you stand against your peers with a market-related salary. Some tips to help you do this:
- In our team’s experience at OfferZen, asking for a 10-15% increase in your current salary is generally in line with employers’ expectations. This can, of course, differ according to factors like your level of seniority, specific skills and the industry you work in.
- This is not to say you can’t ask for more than a 10-15% increase, but have a good reason to do so. For example, have you recently upskilled in a new language? Perhaps you’ve had to take a pay cut due to COVID-19, had a late start to your career, or have been underpaid in the past. Just be sure to have the skills to back you up! Ask yourself if you feel confident executing work at the required level.
- For some extra help: Check out our latest developer salary article for Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Also have a look at our latest State of the Software Developer Nation reports for South Africa and the Netherlands!
Next, it’s important that you figure out what type of job package would make you happy, so you can clearly communicate what you value most when talking to the hiring team. This will differ for everyone. For you, it could mean top-notch medical aid and flexible working hours. Alternatively, you might care most about high take-home pay, and are not really fussed about the bells and whistles.
Make a list of what’s most valuable to you, and decide what balance of contributions, perks and base pay would tick the right boxes for you.
2. Ask for a mock payslip
By now, you should have a very clear idea on the type of offer you want, and be confident in explaining why to companies. It’s time to get a better grasp on what the company can give you in turn.
Asking for a mock payslip will give you an exact breakdown of what’s included in the job package, and what’s on the table besides your base pay. Some example contributions could include:
- A pension/provident fund
- Medical aid
- Various allowances for internet, your car or phone.
Getting a mock payslip is important so that you can identify all deductions that might not be obvious from the get-go. Now you can make more informed choices and ask the right questions about your payslip going forward.
Pro tip: Make sure you understand the different types of salary that could make up an offer. Here’s a quick reminder:
- Net: Your take-home pay after all deductions.
- Gross: Your taxable salary.
- Cost to Company: Your gross salary, in addition to all other contributions included in your payslip. This could include contributions such as medical aid, a provident fund, and benefits like internet or phone costs.
3. Get a full breakdown of your benefits
Other than your salary, there may be perks that are not included in the payslip, which could make all the difference in your decision to accept the job offer. Some examples of benefits could be:
- Equity. Your package isn’t just about the short-term monetary gain that your salary will give you. If equity is on offer, you get to own a slice of the company you work for. That can come with a few medium to long-term gains. However, there are various share options that mean different things for the shareholder. Be sure to ask questions like: “How do the share options work? What does the share scheme look like? What does this mean for me?”
- Training or learning opportunities: Ask if they offer perks like training courses in new programming languages, or whether there are any other opportunities to learn at work. Find out whether these expenses are covered by the company.
- Equipment you’ll be provided with: This is important if you are part of the Windows vs Mac debate. If you have a preference, ask what you’ll be working with and if there is room for you to choose.
- Relocation expenses: Do you need to relocate to a new city or country for the role? Ask the company whether they would be willing to support you and your family with relocation costs. This can get quite pricey to do out of your own pocket — it can be a huge positive if they are willing to assist you.
- Signing bonuses: This is a little less common, however, there are some companies that offer a signing bonus when you agree to join the company. Similar to equity, this can be a nice cashflow injection and it can bolster your first year earnings. Be sure to check if this is offered.
- Flexible hours and remote working: The hours that you work and the remote policy are going to directly affect your day-to-day life. If work-life balance is a big factor for you, this is definitely worth noting. Even if you’re happy working traditional hours and coming into the office, asking about these factors will help you note how flexible the environment is.
- Leave policies: The standard amount of leave offered by most companies in South Africa is 15 days. However, there are some companies that offer more leave, or the option to gain more leave days the longer you stay at the company. If work-life balance is essential to you, it’s important to double check this.
Pro tip: Our company directory has comprehensive company profiles that shows you the major benefits and perks offered by companies.
4. Find out about the outlook for your role
It’s important to bear in mind that, while the current package may not have all the bells and whistles you’re looking for, there is the possibility of this changing over time. Find out what your growth trajectory at the company is going to look like.
Specific questions to ask at this point would include:
- How do performance reviews work at the company: How often do reviews typically happen, and under which circumstances?
- How will your job package change over time for your role: Can you expect any changes after probation, within 1 year, or within 5 years?
- What would it take for them to approve a raise for your role? Find out what specific goals you could meet, and what a win would look like in your position.
Ultimately, it’s useful to think about deciding on a job offer or package as a two-way conversation between you and your future employer. This is a conversation that should begin long before you receive the offer. It helps to set your expectations upfront at the start of the interview process.
Neither you nor your future employer need to feel like you’re on the backfoot in the conversation: Just treat the other person the way you want to be treated!
Last but not least, it is always important to keep in mind that every individual’s context is different. At the end of the day, your offer and salary is a personal conversation that should take place between employee and employer and should take into consideration the nature of work, perks, and other contextual factors like tech stack or industry.
For more salary benchmarking and advice like this, sign up to OfferZen to get job search support from your very own Talent Advisor.
Read Part 2 of this series: How to Negotiate Your Developer Job Offer like a Pro.