It’s All About the Benefits

Congratulations! All of the hard work you have put into your job search has paid off and you have received a job offer – or better yet, multiple job offers. Before you accept an offer and begin your career, there are a few important items to consider. While the starting salary in the job offer tends to get the most attention, don’t overlook the benefits package being offered by the employer.

Cat accountants

The exact benefits package included with your job offer will tend to vary from employer to employer, but there are a few “typical” categories of benefits that should be carefully reviewed:

Insurance Coverages

Most employers still offer employees a range of insurance coverages. These may include medical, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance plans. It is important to carefully review these plans, to inform yourself about the costs associated with each plan, and to ask some detailed questions. This includes:

  • What is your cost for the insurance plans?
  • What are the annual deductibles and your co-payments to use each insurance offering?
  • When do the insurance benefits begin? Are you eligible to receive benefits right away or is there a waiting period?
  • You should also educate yourself about items that the insurance plans may not cover

Retirement Savings and Investments

It is never too early to think about setting some money aside for retirement. Some employers will offer you options for retirement savings or even investment opportunities, including:

  • 401(k) – If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, ask if the program includes an employer match to the contributions you make.
  • Profit Sharing Plans
  • Stock Options
  • Pension Plans

Vacation and Sick Time

The amount of vacation and sick time allotted to employees will vary from employer to employer. Traditional plans will range from 2-4 weeks of vacation per year and one week of sick time. Some employers may even offer employees an allotment of personal days to use on an annual basis.

Additional Employer Perks

Even in today’s job market, some employers are enhancing their “traditional” benefit plans with additional employee perks. These perks may include:

  • Relocation Assistance
  • Gym Memberships
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Child Care

As you begin to receive and evaluate your job offers, there are many items to consider. A great deal of your attention will undoubtedly be focused on the actual job you will be doing, the company you will be working for, and of course the salary that you will be paid.

While thinking about employee benefit plans may not be the most exciting or the most glamorous topic, these are crucial elements to helping you choose the right opportunity to launch your career. Be thorough and review every detail of the employer benefits plans that are being presented to you.

If you have questions about any element of the benefits package, make sure that you seek clarification from a human resources representative at the employer.

As important as salary is, having an understanding of the “total compensation” (including benefits and perks) that is being offered to you will help you make a more informed decision about your job offer.

Photo by Jon Ross.

Is Teaching Abroad Calling Your Wanderlust?

On April 23, I worked at the Wisconsin Educational Recruitment Fair (WERF), which was attended by about 500 teacher candidates, as well as 38 school districts and organizations from Wisconsin, other states, and other countries. I met a representative from EduConUS, who was recruiting for teaching opportunities in South Korea and the Middle East, a rep from Teach and Learn with Georgia (the country, not the state), and a rep from Contact Singapore.


Attending WERF reminded me of the adventurous job searches of several recent grads, or current students, with whom I’ve worked with in the recent past.

“Anthony” is an English ed grad who has taught abroad for two years and is now teaching in the Philadelphia area. He landed his job as a result of working with EPIK, and his girlfriend benefited from working with Korea Connections.

“Michael” is a non-traditional, post-baccalaureate student who has taught abroad in Bangladesh and South Korea. He has worked with a number of placement agencies, but has less than positive things to say about them and urges caution.

“Lucas” is a post-baccalaureate chemistry student who has also taught abroad in South Korea. He did not use a recruiting agency, and instead researched everything on his own. He found the email address of a HR Director of a company called YBM Sisa, which for him ended up being a more effective approach and outcome than working with a recruiter.

If you are considering teaching abroad, here are links to some of my favorite resources over the years:

Here is a quote from one of the students mentioned above about the adventurous nature of teaching abroad:

‘Going abroad to teach is like rolling dice. Even if you read the books and prepare yourself, you never know what you’re really going to get. You need to be okay with that. It helps to remember that a bad year abroad is still better than a year in your hometown watching TV and working at a job that pays $10 per hour.’

Whether you’re seeking teaching opportunities out of the country, out of state, or in Wisconsin, please schedule an appointment with me, Brian, in Career & Leadership Development to discuss resources and strategies that will help you secure employment.

Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Let’s Talk Money!

At some point during your job search process, you will likely run into a question related to your salary expectations. You may see it on a job application where an organization may ask, “What salary range are you looking for?” Or you may be asked during an interview, “What are your salary expectations?”


No matter where you encounter this question, it often poses a challenge for job seekers. What do you say? If you quote a figure that is too high, will you price yourself out of a job? If you quote a figure too low, will you be selling yourself short?

One of the keys to successfully handing this question is to do your research during your job search process. Career & Leadership Development has several resources available to assist you:

As you review the salary information, keep a few things in mind. First, some employers offer very little room to negotiate salaries for entry-level positions. Be sure to set realistic expectations for yourself and establish a budget to determine what you need to make.

Second, when considering your future earnings, remember to account for other variables including the benefits that may be offered by the employer and the cost of living associated with the geographic location of the job.

By utilizing this information, you will be better prepared to handle the salary question. You may choose to tell the employer that your salary expectations are negotiable or that you are interested in learning more about the benefits program to get a complete picture on the total compensation offered by the organization.

If you do quote a salary figure, be sure to justify your response based on the research you have conducted, and cite your sources!

If you would like additional assistance regarding how to handle salary questions, or assistance with job searching and interviewing in general, schedule an appointment with a member of the Career & Leadership Development team.

Photo by Andrew Magill.

You’ve Received a Job Offer! Now What?

Congratulations! After weeks or months of writing resumes, applying for jobs, and going on interviews, your hard work has paid off – you have received a job offer (or better yet, multiple offers!). Time to celebrate, right? Almost…

Oh Boy ...

The next critical step in the job search process is taking the time to fully evaluate the job offer you have just received. Taking time to complete this step will help you determine if the job offer in front of you is truly the right opportunity for you.

Here are a few items to consider and a few questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your job offers:

Compensation and Benefits: This means more than simply looking at the base salary you are offered. Take the time to examine the insurance benefits, the vacation allowances, and any potential perks the employer is offering to get a feel for total compensation (salary + benefits). Don’t forget to take the cost of living into consideration either. If the job will involve relocating to a new city, remember to factor in the costs associated with moving and living in your new location.

The Company/Organization: Sure you have reviewed the company website and toured the facilities during your interview, but don’t forget to get a feel for the company culture and the work environment you will be operating in. Does the organization foster an environment that will help you succeed? Are there opportunities for on-going training and professional development?

The Job Itself: Think about the nature of the work you will be doing and who you will be working with. Does your immediate supervisor offer a leadership or management style that meshes with your style of work? How will your performance be evaluated and how often will you receive feedback? Is there a good work/life balance?

In the end, only you can make the decision as to which job offer to accept, but if you need some additional help, make an appointment with a career advisor or career counselor in Career & Leadership Development.

Once you have made your decision, notify the employer of your intentions, verify your start date, and yes…remember to finally take some time to celebrate!

Photo by Emily Jones.

What Valentine’s Day Means for the Job Seeker

Valentine’s Day can oftentimes be a gift to the unaware. Stores are filled with candies, stuffed animals, and flowers behind an overlay of red and pink. Restaurants are creating a cozy and romantic atmosphere. It’s nearly impossible to forget that Valentine’s Day is near and love-related gestures are expected.

Today, during the week of Valentine’s Day, I want to offer students a similar gift by sharing when you should become a job seeker. There are no significant reminders through commercials and consumer products as to when to begin the job search. As a result, several students ride into the glory of graduation unaware: a college degree in hand, with no resume developed, no networking contacts and a job search that has barely began. This timing makes the task of finding employment even more daunting.

There is a great need to become a job seeker before becoming a graduate. Here are a couple of tips on becoming a job seeker.

  • Apply to job openings as early as the beginning of the spring. Employers are responsible for advertising a position, evaluating applicants through resumes and cover letters, interviewing, evaluating interviewees, checking references, and following a job offer, negotiating a salary. This process could take up to two months from the initial job advertisement. In addition, it is not uncommon for employers to allow two weeks to a month for new employees to begin work. Apply now and manage details of the starting date later.
  • Begin connecting with any networking contacts including current and past employers and internship supervisors, and other individuals who you know in your field of interest. Explain the type of job you are seeking out, ask for any advice of navigating your field, and ask for introductions to new contacts. Networking is a process, and if you begin at the start of the spring semester, your connections have the chance to introduce opportunities before you graduate.

If you are wondering about how to become a job seeker before graduation, make an appointment with a Career Counselor in Career & Leadership Development to organize your job search and discuss the best job strategies for you as a job seeker.

Have a great Valentine’s Day and take joy in the gift of reminders.

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt.

Where Will Your Job Search Take You?

The staff of Career & Leadership Development helps UW-Whitewater students and alumni with all aspects of their job search, including talking about where a graduate wishes to live for their first destination after college. As a place to live, Wisconsin is the clear first choice for UW-Whitewater graduates (approximately 87%), and our graduates contribute significantly to our state economy and our communities. This isn’t surprising – Wisconsin is a wonderful place to live.

If you’ve spent your whole life living in one place, it may be scary to contemplate moving to another part of the state or country. Fear of the unknown may mean that some of us stay where we’re most comfortable, and limit our life choices as a result.

I find it fascinating to talk with our international students – all have taken a leap of faith to experience life in the United States and our campus community. I’m also intrigued by the stories our students share about their study abroad experiences. They are often life changing. Decisions about our career are ultimately decisions about our lives, and where we want or need to live is an important aspect of our development as professionals.

Move to NYC

I’d like to provide you with some things to consider while contemplating the location of your first job. I talked with one of my colleagues, Melissa Grosso, Leadership Advisor in Career & Leadership Development. Melissa has experienced several significant moves in her life, and I trust her opinion and advice on the matter of relocating. Here are Melissa’s top three tips for those of you thinking about making a move to an unfamiliar place after graduation:

  1. Some graduates follow the job to the place, others pick the place and then find a job. If you prefer the latter (picking the place first), then know what you want, and research the region and communities to see which best align with your needs. I’m not a big city person. I like visiting, I just don’t want to live there. Knowing this, I may not be happy moving to New York City. Population, region of the country, climate, and culture all may have an impact on your happiness. Make sure you know what you want.
  2. If possible, make a visit to check out the area. This allows you to gain a fairly good feel of the place – much like choosing a college. Most of us have experienced the move to college, and what we see on paper and what we feel when we’re on campus may vary.
  3. Don’t get stuck on the details. There are many things to consider when making a move, lots of logistical tasks to manage and sort through. It can seem overwhelming to focus on all of these details early in the process. Rather, focus on the big picture and let things fall into place as you progress through the move.

Make sure to visit with a staff member in Career & Leadership Development for all of your career needs. We have various tools to help you identify job openings in various locations, and are willing to listen and help you sort through your options.

Photo by Jennine Jacob.

Green Career Resources: Twitter

With this week being Earth Week, I thought going through some green career resources would be most appropriate. The biggest thing to remember is that the green economy is growing and constantly changing. If you really want to be a part of it, keep up with the current events, the changes, the trends, and the major players.

Here are some previous posts we’ve done on green careers that you might find useful and interesting:

Another great resource to learn more about and keep up with the green economy is through Twitter! Increase your social media skills by connecting, interacting, and contributing to the green economy landscape. Here’s a listing of some entities to follow to find out about news, jobs/internships, and general information.

UWW Career (@UWWCareer) – we give you general job search/career advice, event notices, and links to great articles

National Park Service (@NatlParkService) – find out how you can get involved with the 390+ sites within the National Park Service

Student Conservation Association (SCA) (@the_sca) – connecting students with a variety of conservation opportunities all around the country

SCA Internships (@SCAInternships) – internship postings through the SCA

The Nature Conservancy (@nature_org) – great news source

Tree Hugger (@TreeHugger) – news, ideas, & links; also check out their blog

Jobs in Sustainability (@JobsinSustain)

Sustainable Biz (@SustainableBiz) – news from the green business world

Idealist (@idealist) – helping put your passion into action; large job/internship/volunteer search site for a wide variety of causes

Green Collar Jobs (@GreenCollarJobs) – initiative for creating green jobs in the Chicago area

Green Job Spider (@greenjobspider) – job search engine for green jobs

Carol McClelland (@CarolMcClelland) – expert in the process of finding green jobs; also check out her website and her book, Green Careers for Dummies

National Wildlife Federation (@NWF) – work to protect wildlife

Sierra Club (@Sierra_Club) – follow in the footsteps of founder John Muir to help protect communities, the environment, wild places, and the planet.

Zero Foot Print (@zerofootprint) – helping to reduce our environmental footprint

Sustain Lane (@SustainLane) – learning more about sustainable living; make sure to check out their job board

Cool Works (@coolworks) – find a career or seasonal job in some of the coolest places on Earth; their job board also has come cool job search categories (i.e. Jobs on Horseback or Jobs on Water)

Photo by Moyan Brenn.

Spring Break To-Do’s

Spring Break is a time to relax and recharge before finishing off the rest of the spring semester. The time off can also be a time to start getting some traction on career-related items…especially if you’re graduating this coming May.

Here are posts we’ve written previously about career-related things to do during break time.

Have a wonderful Spring Break, stay safe, and we’ll see you when you get back!

P.S. Getting your resume ready for applying for jobs would be an EXCELLENT thing to do during spring break!

Federal Hiring Reform

Applying for a job with the Federal Government has been a cumbersome and complicated process. As a result, many qualified people gave up on the process.

Last year, the President mandated changes more in line with the application process of most jobs in the private sector. One major change was the use of a resume and cover letter versus a long list of essay questions with lengthy answers. You may still be required to answer a questionnaire or submit an online form, so pay close attention to the information listed under “How to Apply” in each job announcement.

federal hill flag staff plaza dedication

There are two places to look at when you are considering a Federal job. One place is the agency website. If you are interested in working for a particular agency, look for their website and see if they have openings. The other site to look at is I recommend starting with at First Time Visitors.

Here you will:

  • Learn to create an account
  • Build and store up to five distinct resumes
  • Save and automate job searches
  • Save and apply for jobs
  • Learn how to use USAJOBS
  • Learn about the federal hiring process
  • Discover special hiring programs
  • Look for a job
  • See which jobs are in demand
  • Apply to Federal Agencies


  1. USAJOBS – The Federal Government’s Official Jobs Site
  2. USAJOBS – Students and Recent Graduates Jobs
  3. Federal Careers by Field of Interest
  4. Tips
  5. Federal Resumes Using
  6. Tips
  7. Federal Internships
  8. Why Public Service?

Photo by Maryland GovPics.

Winter Break To-Dos: Part 2

Last week, I covered a few things to work on towards your career goals while you’re enjoying winter break. This week I have another item that you can have as an option for during winter break. Create your LinkedIn account and start networking with professionals in your intended career field. This social media platform allows you to join groups with other professionals that have similar career interests as you, you can do an extensive amount of company research (find out everything from who was recently hired to how the company shows up in the news), and also job searching.

Here are some useful handouts and guides to help you get started:

If you are currently getting ready to look for an internship, check out Laura’s tips internship winter break to-dos.

We will be taking a break from updating our blog for the duration of Winter Break. We’ll be back in action towards the end of January. We will be tweeting throughout winter break, so you can follow us there for the latest news about the world of work and UW-Whitewater.

We will be closed on the following days:

  • Friday, December 24th (Holiday)
  • Monday, December 27th (Furlough)
  • Friday, December 31st (Holiday)

Photo by: Ellen Hatfield