It is always exciting and rewarding when you eventually get a job offer given the hard work and long hours that come with job applications and interview preparations. Whether you’ve been in the job hunting arena for a long time and will just about take the next thing that comes your way or you’re absolutely bored of your current role/place of work, it’s important that you know what you’re signing up for.

I started my first full time permanent job six months after graduation and really looked forward to having some financial independence, hence the salary was the first thing I looked for after receiving my letter and barely scanned through the other benefits. While the salary is an important part of the package, there are other vital aspects of the reward package you should look out for to ensure you’re getting the best or at the very least a fair package in line with the standards in your country of residence.

Based on my experience living and working in Nigeria and UK, here a few things you should look out for to help you negotiate a good total salary package, depending if you want more cash or non-cash benefits.

1. Basic Salary and Net Pay. Basic Salary is the amount paid to an employee before any deductions are taken off or extras added while Net Pay is the amount left after all necessary deductions and also referred to as ‘take home’ salary. Likely deductions and add-ons vary for individuals and companies depending on tax band, pension polices and other company specific benefits. I remember trying to calculate my monthly net pay by dividing my gross annual pay by twelve lol! (Raise your hand if you did this too or at least think this is how it works.) Yes, I knew income tax and a few other things will be deducted but had no clue it accounted for much. When next you hear someone talk about salary package, find out if they’re referring to basic or net before you get too excited.

2. Additional Benefits and allowances. This can include performance based bonus, which can be discretionary depending on the performance of the company, individual, team or expressly stated such as 10% of annual salary. There are allowances that can accrue to employees such as travel allowance, leave allowance, upfront housing allowance (this is mostly popular in Nigeria), obtainable on a quarterly basis or as they occur. In the UK, some companies offer relocation allowance and other benefits such as child care, cycle to work, which helps to reduce your taxable income. Make sure you understand how each of these benefits work and other available options.  

3. Healthcare Insurance. This includes medical insurance covering your general wellbeing but is often limited, where additional costs will be borne by the employee. Sometimes, this can include a dependent, such as spouse or child.

4. Leave Policy. The maximum no of days you’re allowed as holiday in a year, exclusive of recognised public or bank holidays. In addition, your contract should state whether these are paid or unpaid and perhaps the option of taking unpaid holiday if the need arises. The maternity/paternity leave policy is also very important, whether you’re expecting or may be in the near future. Lastly, you should also ask about study leave and the number of days available for that, particularly if you intend to study towards obtaining a professional qualification.

5. Training and Development. This includes such things as training or reimbursement provided for training towards continuing professional development, both in-house and external and reimbursement for subscription fees for being a member of a professional body.

While other items such as office hours, dress code, company culture, travel requirements and flexible hours are important, they are better learned by experience or through discussion with a long standing staff of the company.

If you’re yet to get that job offer and perhaps overwhelmed with all the information online about preparing for a job interview, then my previous interview series post on ‘5 common interview questions and how to answer them – Part 1 and 2 should guide you.

Was there something you were expecting or didn’t consider when you received your employment letter and if you’re based outside Nigeria or UK, please share how some of these items differ or are in close similarity to your country of residence.