Due to the frequency of PCS moves, deployments, child rearing and uncertainty of military life, military spouses are often thrilled to be considered for any paid employment opportunity. Resist the urge to accept the offer immediately without truly understanding and evaluating it. Before accepting the position, consider the entire compensation package, both monetary and nonmonetary, to ensure the opportunity will fit within your lifestyle.
Start with these five steps before saying yes to any job offer.
1. Do your homework.
At this point in the process, you should have a clear idea of the salary range for the position. If not, dig a little deeper; are you being offered a salary the reflect industry and location trends? Contact your installations employment office, the spouse education and career opportunity career counselors through Military OneSource, or check out salary.com and Glassdoor.
Do you have a friend or acquaintance who works or has worked for the organization or within the industry? Request an informational interview, coffee or phone call to inquire. Most people are willing to give you an idea of the salary range if they are aware of it.
2. Determine Your non-negotiables.
Pick two to three priorities that are non-negotiable in your proposed new work arrangement. Ask yourself, what are you willing to compromise and how much are you willing to compromise? Do you want to work in an office five days a week or do you need a more flexible arrangement? Does this position require travel, and if so, how often? What are your family’s salary needs according to your household budget? Does the company provide portable opportunities should your family PCS in the future?
Write out your non-negotiables and discuss this in detail with your spouse. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
3. Consider the benefits package.
Starting over with new employee benefits after each PCS can be grueling and difficult, unless you have the opportunity to maintain employment through telework or a company location transfer.
Have you thought about asking for a certain allotment of paid time off days built into your start date? It never fails that either a child gets sick, you get food poisoning, or the family car has a flat tire. It never hurts to ask, right?
If you or your spouse are in childbearing years, inquire about your company’s maternity or paternity leave benefits. Many workplaces only consider benefits for employees after they have been working at the company for at least a year. Further, the Family Medical Leave Act does not apply unless you have been working full-time for a year and the company has over 50 employees.
Will you utilize the company’s health care and dental benefits? If not, are you able to waive these benefits and negotiate a higher salary? After all, you are saving the company money.
How will your new commute time to the office fit in with your family’s schedule? Is there an opportunity for flexibility around core working hours or the possibility to telecommute during the week? If so, will the company provide office equipment, or reimbursement for internet or phone connectivity? Make sure you know the answers to these questions before accepting any offer.
4. Sleep on it.
Never take the first offer as final or assume the offer is fixed, unless that is stated upfront. Once an offer is extended in writing, thank the employer for the opportunity and let them know that you need to discuss it further with your spouse and family. Take at least 24-48 hours to review their offer. Sleep on it. If you aren’t completely happy with it, then it’s time to come up with a counter offer.
5. Be confident with your counter offer.
After you have outlined your non negotiables and your personal needs, build your confidence and practice your “ask” in front of a mirror, a mentor, a friend, or your spouse.
Do not feel bad because you are asking for additional leave time or a higher salary if you have the experience and credibility to back it up. Know your value and be prepared to fight for it. You are worth it.
Be willing to accept that the company may not accept your counter offer, but make sure you know the limit at which you are unwilling to accept a job. Don’t take it if it’s not going to help you support your needs and family.
Have confidence in yourself and know that the employer wants you to be on their team.