A word from our guest writer: Hi everyone, my name is Luy Dam. I’m currently a Sales controller (or in a more used term, Business controller) at AkzoNobel in the Netherlands. In my 8 years of professional experience, I have been through 2 companies and 4 different roles within Finance. In this article I am going to share with you my experience with evaluating and accepting job offers. Some general points are valid for any job offer while some specific points are applicable for jobs in the Netherlands only. Hope that you find the information helpful and can apply it to your personal situation.
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS if you already reach the stage of receiving a job offer from an employer. It means that you have gone through the tedious recruitment process with a lot of effort, time and courage and have almost reached the final point. It’s something to be proud of already. Well done! But here comes the next dilemma: How do you know whether the job offer is good enough, considering your background, growth potential, career plan, financial goal, etc.? I will map out here some important topics to consider.
Learning Opportunities, The Company Culture, Colleagues and Growth Potential
These considerations are not easy to be quantified in monetary value. The assessment can be subjective to your gut feeling but can also be helped with input from your circle of friends, colleagues or from your professional networks.
The job itself, and learning opportunities that the job offers
Ask yourself if the job will help you acquire new skills, learn a new business, or explore new aspects of your profession. What excites you at work? A job with routine tasks or non-stop changing tasks? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone? Is the job challenging you and motivating you to go to work every day? Are training courses offered to the employees to improve both hard and soft skills? Is there a mentorship program?
Remember nothing is perfect. It is rare to find something that satisfies all your needs. And sometimes you don’t have answers for all questions above. Some are only known once you have done the job for a while. But certainly, you are able to get some answers during the interviews with the company. Always keep these in mind when you have a chance to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions. They can definitely provide you some valuable input.
The company culture and working environment
If you are new to the company, check your network (ex-colleagues, friends, Linkedin connections, Vietmakeit group etc…) to see if anyone working there can give you insights into the company’s general culture and working environment. What are the company’s core values? Is it a hierarchical workplace? How are colleagues interacting with each other? Are there regular formal or informal gatherings at work? How is the company treating its employees? Does the company have a good platform for employees to raise their voice?
If it is an internal job switch and you already know the company, try to connect with your (potential) future colleagues. Ask them for a short coffee chat or a lunch date. It’s not only great for you to already make some connections but also helpful to learn more about the team, their interaction within the team and with other departments, their way of working, and their fun activities outside of work.
I personally find bonding with colleagues very important. I don’t need to make friends with everyone at work, but I want to feel excited and motivated to go to work every day. One of the motivations is the ability to connect with colleagues on both professional and personal level. Trust me, you will find work a lot more relaxing and engaging if you can easily throw out a joke or two with a close colleague and vice versa.
Growth potential and career advancement opportunities
In most cases, people seek for opportunities to grow further in a career path. Most have a vision of what they want to do and achieve in a 3-, 5- or 10-years horizon. When evaluating a job offer, this is very important to take into account. Will you have a chance to grow in the team, in the function or in the company? Growth does not mean to only go up in the career ladder. Growing horizontally, aka exploring opportunities in other functional areas, is also an option. Usually there are more chances to move sideways in a career in a bigger organization. For instance, a finance professional can explore opportunities in the pricing team, where the numerical and logical skills are very helpful. Or a marketing specialist might later want to try a key account manager role, where his or her business expertise is a big advantage.
Contract Length, A Probation Period, Base Salary, Bonuses, Vacation Days, Pension Contribution, Travel Allowance and Any Other Financial Benefits.
When it comes to practical (or financial) aspects of the offer, I strongly encourage you to make a simple Excel sheet to compare the new offer with the current job or to compare different job offers. You can try to quantify the conditions in monetary value as much as possible to make the comparison easier.
|What to consider?||Netherlands Specific|
|Contract Length||Temporary (6 months, 1 year, 2 years, …) or permanent?||The rule is after 2 temporary contracts, the employer is obliged to give you a permanent contract (of course if you stay with the same company).|
|Probation Period||1, 2 or 3 months?||Always check if the probation period (proeftijd in Dutch) complies with the Collective Labor Agreement (CAO – Collectieve ArbeidsOvereenkomst in Dutch) of the industry your company is in. You can always ask the recruiter which industry the company is in to search for the right CAO.|
|Base Salary||Includes or excludes holiday allowance of 8% gross annual salary?||In the Netherlands, it’s common to give holiday allowance instead of 13th month salary. They are in principle the same (8% is almost 1-month salary). Always check if the offer includes or excludes this 8%.|
|Vacation Days||20, 25, 30 days?|
Are there any additional days on top of vacation days?
If you don’t use all the days, can you carry them over the future years? Is there a limit for how long you can carry over these unused days?
|By law, the number of vacation hours is 4 times the number of working hours per week. E.g. if you work 40 hours/week, you are entitled to 160 hours legal vacation days. Many employers offer more, for instance 25 or 30 days or even more. The number of days above the legal requirement might have a different rule applied. Please remember, time is money. When comparing the salary offers, always take the number of vacation days into account. An employer offering higher salary, but lower vacation days is not necessarily better than the other who offers slightly lower salary but a lot more vacation days.|
|Bonus Scheme||Bonus schemes mostly base on your own performance and the financial performance of the company (which is not known till the year is closed). Thus, this is more difficult to quantify. But you can always make an estimate based on any “fixed” information (e.g. a fixed bonus, a fixed %) that you know.|
|Pension Contribution||Every month a certain % of your salary is deducted to build up your pension for the future. This % is divided between the employer and the employee. The split of pension contribution varies among companies. Of course, the lower the employee’s contribution is, the more net salary you receive in your bank account.|
|Travel Allowance||Travel allowance can be in the form of a monthly public transport travel card, or a fixed monthly payment||In the Netherlands, the employees can receive up to € 0,19/kilometre allowance without being taxed. If you can prove that you carpool daily with someone to work, the company also compensates the same amount. Check if your employer offers a lower or higher amount than this. If lower, it can be a point for negotiation.A public transport travel card, regardless of the value, is always tax free.|
|Other financial benefits||Depending on the nature of the job, the company can also offer you a lease car, a company phone with phone subscription, additional allowances. All these can be easily quantified and added to the Excel sheet for comparison purposes.|
My Best Advice
The most common question from a person switching jobs is: How much should my base salary increase in %? It depends on so many factors. No answer fits all jobs, experience levels or negotiation skills. The rule of thumb is “Do not accept the first offer from the employer”. I don’t have a definitive answer to this question. My only advice is:
- Look at the factors in point 1 above and assess them for yourself. Is the job offering you unquantifiable benefits like various learning opportunities, great growth potential, a dynamic working environment with fun colleagues, etc.? Enough that the pay raise % does not matter anymore?
- Review the practical points carefully to see what the total package of the offer will be in value. Maybe the base salary is slightly lower but other benefits can compensate. In the end, you care about the net value in your bank account. Therefore, a clear Excel sheet really helps. A clear Excel sheet will help you to bring forward negotiation points with a solid back-up.
- Don’t negotiate back and forth many times. When you counter the offer from the employer, try to include all the negotiation points so the employer/recruiter can evaluate them all in one go. It is not a bargaining game that you try to get more benefit each time. It can be counter effective.
To conclude, a job offer is not only about the base salary. There are a lot more considerations behind it, both qualitative and quantitative. Never rush with accepting any offer on the table. Review the job nature once again, reflect on the information you have been provided in the interviews, seek for insights from the “insiders” if you have one, review the offer critically, create an Excel file to compare the conditions, send a constructive and complete counter offer to the employer. I have used these tactics to land jobs that I have been very satisfied about. I can’t wait to hear that you will experience the same. Good luck!
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