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It’s easy to think of the number on your paycheck as the most important thing when it comes to searching for a graduate job.
Of course salary is important. Earning enough money to make ends meet should always be a top consideration, but overlooking the employee benefits package that a company has to offer could be a missed opportunity.

In a bid to attract and retain their staff, employers are increasingly investing more into their company benefits scheme. Additional perks such as private health care, season ticket travel loans and life insurance are becoming extremely lucrative within the job market, although not everyone realises the value of these non- monetary benefits.

Picture the scenario:  you’ve landed a new job offer. It’s close to being your dream position, in an exciting industry, with lots of room to grow and develop –  but it’s paying £4,000 less than you told yourself you would settle for. Naturally you might be inclined to turn it down. But before you do, it’s worth considering a few key things:

How much money will you actually take home?

Bear in mind that your gross salary – which is your earnings before any taxes and deductions – is not actually the amount you will take home at the end of the month. When considering a job that is slightly less than you had in mind, it’s important to work out what your take home pay would be.

Some repayments – such as your student loan – are calculated on a tiered basis and taken directly from your salary. Other payments such as tax and national insurance are taken as a percentage of your monthly pay which essentially means that the more you earn, the more you’ll end up repaying each month.

Use a salary calculator to work out exactly how much you’ll have left once these costs have been taken care of. It could be that the take home difference between your desired salary and the figure being offered isn’t that significant after all.

How could you use the company benefits package to your personal advantage?

So after tax and other repayments, you’ve calculated that the ‘pay cut’ you’re considering is £200 less a month than your desired salary.  But on closer inspection of your new package, you see that the role you’re considering has a range of employee benefits such as a company phone, subsidised holidays and a gym membership, not to mention those weekly back massages! If you look at how much each of these things would cost you individually, it’s easy to see how the additional benefits could easily make up more than a bit of extra money on paper.

To help you understand the real value of non–monetary benefits being offered by a potential employer, you should work out how much each one is worth to you on an individual basis. For example, childcare vouchers might not be personally relevant to you, but as a keen cycler, a cycle to work scheme could be extremely cost effective.

Does less actually mean more?

Using your new company perks could actually help you cut back on some of your regular living expenses, ultimately helping you save money in the long run.

Count up the amount of tea, coffee, water, snacks and lunch you get through on a typical week at work – this can eat through a huge amount of your pay check. But if your new employer offers free snacks such as fruit or toast, or provides subsidised lunches then this could help you save a reasonable amount of money.

Although not technically an employee benefit, joining a company that has a casual dress code could also be a real money saver. You’ll be able to wear the same clothes you do outside of the office, without spending half of your first pay check on a wardrobe full of office attire.

Another potential way to cut costs on transports, clothes and food costs is by opting into a flexible or home working scheme if your employee offers one.

Some companies will require a salary sacrifice in order for employees to opt into their benefit scheme. Whilst this might mean your base salary is lower, you’ll end up paying less in tax and national insurance, too.

Accepting a graduate job offer is a big commitment, so ensure that you’ve considered every part of the offer – from employee benefits and salary, to work life balance and job satisfaction – so you can step into the role with full confidence in your decision.

About the Author

  • Name: Actuarial Careers
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