5 things to know before accepting a first job offer

May 01, 2019

From salary negotiation to health insurance, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these common terms before accepting an offer.

Getting your first job out of college is something to celebrate. It’s a major accomplishment that sets you on a path to career success and further establishes financial independence. Whether you’re job hunting or just received an offer letter, familiarize yourself with the hiring process so you feel prepared, confident and professional.

 

Salary negotiation

Even first-timers should research salary ranges for specific positions in their industry, and be prepared to ask for a little more. It’s likely the company spent hours going through applications, conducting interviews and narrowing down candidates. There’s a reason you were chosen, and that’s a powerful bargaining tool. If you don’t get a higher salary, it still shows your new employer that you’re willing to speak up for yourself. It’s also a skill that will no doubt come in handy throughout your career.

 

Health insurance

If the salary is competitive, what about the company benefits package, specifically health insurance? Typically, if you obtain health insurance through work, you pay a portion of the premium – the total annual cost of the plan – and your employer pays the rest. In most cases, the higher the premium, the lower the deductible – aka, the amount you’ll have to pay a health care provider out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.

A company will often offer a selection of plans that vary in cost and coverage. It’s necessary to think about your current health situation and pick a plan that aligns with your needs. Keep in mind, purchasing health insurance from your company isn’t required. If you’re 26 or younger, your parents have the option to keep you on their plan. If you’re married, you may be covered by your spouse’s insurance.

 

Retirement plan

When you are just starting your first job, retirement is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s crucial to start planning for it now. Many companies offer the option to enroll in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan (for religious groups, nonprofits, school districts or government organizations). Both allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars from your paycheck for the sole purpose of saving for retirement. You can control the amount you contribute every year up to a specific limit set by the Internal Revenue Service.

To maximize your savings, set up an automatic transfer from your paycheck to your retirement account. If your employer offers company matching and contributes money to your account up to a certain percentage – take advantage of it.

 

Non-compete agreement

Depending on the industry you’re in, you may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement. Basically, it’s a contract between an employee and employer that limits where you work if you decide to quit. Your company may spend a lot of time and money to train you. So, this protects the company from you leaving to work for a competitor and taking your acquired skills and trade secrets with you. It’s ultimately your choice whether or not to sign, but if you refuse, be prepared to have the job offer revoked.

 

Paid time off

Unlike part-time jobs many students have in college, many companies include paid time off, or PTO, as part of their benefits package. These are off-the-clock hours that can be used for things such as vacations, illnesses and personal days without loss in pay.

Each company has their own rules when it comes to PTO. For example, you may have to be employed for 90 days before using it. Unused days may roll over to the next year, or they may not. In general, the longer you stay with a company, the more days you are likely to accrue.

 

Have questions on setting up health insurance, retirement planning, auto-pay and other new income management topics? Make an appointment with a banker.

Related content

What to do with your tax refund or bonus

3 reasons governments and educational institutions should implement service fees

Investment strategies by age

5 financial goals for the new year

How to get started creating your business plan

The lowdown on 6 myths about buying a home

What documents do you need after a loved one dies?

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

Rebuilding finances after a natural disaster

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

Preparing for adoption and IVF

11 essential things to do before baby comes

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Starting a family

Are you ready to restart your federal student loan payments?

Tips for handling rising costs from an Operation HOPE Financial Wellbeing coach

Tips to earn that A+ in back-to-school savings

Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

Uncover the cost: Wedding

LGBTQ+ retirement planning: What you need to know

What is Medicare? Understanding your coverage options

What Is a 401(k)?

Using 529 plans for K-12 tuition

Retirement quiz: How ready are you?

Retirement plan options for the self-employed

Is a Health Savings Account missing from your retirement plan?

IRA vs. 401(k): What's the difference?

How to open and invest in a 529 plan

How much life insurance do I need?

How grandparents can contribute to college funds instead of buying gifts

Higher education and the cashless society: Latest trends

Managing the rising costs of payment acceptance with service fees

CFO survey: A shifting focus on ESG in business

CFO report: Driving growth via new business models and technology

CFO insights: Leading the recovery for sustainable growth

5 steps to take before transitioning your business

Make your business legit

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

5 things to know before accepting a first job offer

How to save money while helping the environment

Working with an accountability partner can help you reach your goals

7 steps to prepare for the high cost of child care

How to save for a wedding

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

5 things to consider when deciding to take an unplanned trip

How to talk to your lender about debt

Stay committed to your goals by creating positive habits

5 tips for creating (and sticking to) a holiday budget

How to test new business ideas

How can I help my student manage money?

Bank from home with these digital features

3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore

Is your employer long term disability insurance enough?

8 steps to choosing a health insurance plan

7 things to know about long-term care insurance

Preparing for retirement: 8 steps to take

How I did it: Switched career paths by taking an unexpected pivot

5 unexpected retirement expenses

7 beneficiary designation mistakes to avoid

How to build wealth at any age

Year-end financial checklist

Good money habits: 6 common money mistakes to avoid

Key components of a financial plan

Comparing term vs. permanent life insurance

Achieving their dreams through a pre-apprenticeship construction program

6 questions students should ask about checking accounts

Do your investments match your financial goals?

A guide to tax diversification and investing

Credit: Do you understand it?

What is an escrow account? Do I have one?

Home buying myths: Realities of owning a home

Webinar: 11 insider tips for student debt

Is a home equity loan for college the right choice for your student

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

Friction: How it can help achieve money goals

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

What to consider before taking out a student loan

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Are savings bonds still a thing?

Allowance basics for parents and kids

9 simple ways to save

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

What military service taught me about money management

How to avoid student loan scams

Webinar: U.S. Bank asks: Are you safe from fraud?

Learn to spot and protect yourself from common student scams

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

How I did it: Paid off student loans

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

Costs to consider when starting a business

Should you give your child a college credit card?

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

Social Security benefits questions and answers

Your 4-step guide to financial planning

Working after retirement: Factors to consider

Personal loans first-timer's guide: 7 questions to ask

The connection between your health and financial well-being

Dear Money Mentor: How do I set and track financial goals?

Retirement income planning: 4 steps to take

Retirement expectations quiz

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck post-pay increase

What you need to know about renting

What’s in your emergency fund?

Certificates of deposit: How they work to grow your money

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

Tips for navigating a medical hardship when you’re unable to work

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

5 reasons why couples may have separate bank accounts

U.S. Bank asks: Transitioning out of college life? What’s next?

Co-signing 101: Applying for a loan with co-borrower

Key milestone ages as you near and start retirement

How to use debt to build wealth

How to talk about money with your family

How to build credit as a student

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

How to retire happy

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

How I did it: My house remodel

Does your savings plan match your lifestyle?

Student checklist: Preparing for college

Resources for managing financial matters after an unexpected death

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know your finances?

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Webinar: Bank Notes: College cost comparison

Healthcare costs in retirement: Are you prepared?

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Financial steps to take after the death of a spouse

Annual insurance review checklist