Looking for your first job? 3 benefits to look for

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If you’re a recent graduate looking for your first job, you’re in luck. It’s actually the perfect time to enter the job market, with job openings plentiful and many companies struggling to find workers.

Not only are some companies raising salaries to attract talent, but they’re also upping the ante on benefits. And to be clear, the right benefits package could mean big savings for you in different areas. As such, if you are looking for a full-time position, it pays to aim for the following benefits.

1. Subsidized health insurance

Health insurance can be a big expense, so the less you have to pay for coverage, the better. It’s common for employers to subsidize health insurance to some degree, but as part of a job search, you may want to focus on companies that generously subsidize insurance.

You might even find a job where your employer will fully cover your health insurance premiums. In this case, you’ll still need to cover your own copayments and deductibles, but you won’t have money deducted from your paychecks to cover the cost of the coverage itself.

2. A retirement plan with employer matching

It is common for companies to offer not only a 401(k) plan for retirement savings purposes, but also some sort of matching program in conjunction with that 401(k). Different companies have different correspondence policies. But in a nutshell, you might be entitled to some free money for your retirement plan if you also contribute from your own paychecks.

If you end up working for a small business, you may not have access to a 401(k). This is because these plans can be expensive to administer. In that case, you can still open an IRA on your own and save for retirement that way. But you might want to ask about a SEP IRA. It is a special IRA for small businesses where employers contribute savings on behalf of employees.

3. Paid leave

Everyone needs a break from the office once in a while. It is important to ensure that whatever job you take offers you some degree of paid time off, particularly for sick days, but also for vacation days.

Some companies now even offer unlimited time off. These policies generally operate on a “don’t overuse” basis, so if you limit your days off to a reasonable number, you won’t run into a problem.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to ask about your company’s COVID-related leave policies. If your company offers the option to work remotely and you test positive for COVID-19, you may not have to miss much or any work if your symptoms are mild. But since there are isolation requirements associated with testing positive, it’s a good idea to ask any potential employer how they’re handling COVID-related issues.

Although finding a job for the first time can be daunting, the advantage is that you are doing it at a time when workers have a clear advantage. But when evaluating different salary offers, be sure to also dig into each company’s perks to make sure you’re really signing up for the right package.

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