Admit it. You’ve done it before. You interviewed with a company and well into the recruitment process found a few extra pennies under your compensation mattress. There they laid peacefully only to surface once you received the job offer—the expense reimbursement for your cell phone or that 401K matching you forgot. Employers are no better as they typically only request information regarding your current base salary and annual bonus target which is inevitably accompanied by the flashy “oh-my” look that could win an acting audition when the rest of your remuneration wakes up. Let’s try to end the frustration by taking a peek into how to know your financial value before changing jobs.


It’s simple, right? Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with today’s exotic compensation structures that employer’s use to entice you. Furthermore, you’re rarely fortunate enough to compare an apple to apple when evaluating a job change.

To help our clients and candidates, we devised a one-page tabular view of our job candidate’s current compensation in its entirety. While I won’t share the exact listing, I’d like to offer a checklist of eight major areas that will help candidates and employers gain a clear understanding—before they start!

Examine These 8 Key Compensation Areas to Know Your Value

Salary. This is not merely your annual salary or hourly wage. You need to be aware of other quantitative and qualitative elements that will influence your decision. Specifically, share (or have handy) other contextual information such as the date and amount of your last raise as well as the projected date and amount of your next raise. Why? Is your salary $100K, but you just received a $10K increase from your employer? Was your salary $100K when you filled out the job application at the beginning of the recruitment process only to receive a $10K increase during the process? This insight matters.

Bonus. Bonuses come in many forms and varying frequencies. You might receive an annual or quarterly bonus contingent upon company and individual performance. You might receive commissions if you’re a sales-oriented employee. Regardless of your particular position, there are a handful of key bonus-related elements you should capture including the target bonus, term (monthly, quarterly, annual), date and amount of last one received, and date and anticipated amount of the next one. (I’m going to abstain from providing 500 words on how your target bonus is immaterial when you’re actual bonus is zero. Here’s the twelve-word version. Be realistic when factoring in your current bonus potential versus bonus receipt.)

Company Stock. This is a rather broad category I’m using to lump designated stock shares, Restricted Stock Units (RSUs), Incentive Stock Options (ISOs), Phantom Stock (used in privately-held companies), Profit Interest Units (PIUs), Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs) and any other form of stock you can imagine. Know what you have, what it’s worth, when it vests, and what you’ll be leaving behind.

Profit Sharing. Some organizations will distribute directly to its employees or into a retirement account some form of profit sharing allocation. Understand this program similarly to the Company Stock and 401K Match as appropriate for your situation.

401K Match. The 401K program is a wonderful pre-tax incentive for employees. Whatever you allocated to your account is yours to keep put or rollover when you leave the company. You should, however, understand your current company’s matching program (the percentage or amount) and the vesting schedule for the match it provides. Sometimes, you’ll miss out on a recent match, but it’s more likely that you won’t receive the match your company was willing to provide for the current year.

Allowances. Some companies provide special allowances for its employees. Candidly, this is a catchall group that can cover areas such as telephone, car, and training allowances to its employees. This is often very company-specific and role-specific, but you should give more than a passing though to all the “hidden” perks you might receive.

Education. Many companies encourage their employees to do some form of continuing education. Some organizations reimburse for all or some portion of the tuition for employees to attain Associate, Bachelor, or Graduate Degrees. More so than the opportunity to pursue these degrees, be mindful of any penalties or repayments you’ll be accountable for should you depart before a certain time period.

Paid Time Off. This means anything related to Paid Time Off (PTO). Companies have a variety of ways of allocating and designating this—vacation days, sick days, personal days, floating holidays, and so on. Some companies let you carry in into the next year, while others pay it out or take it away. Just know your numbers.

While there are many other areas that you might consider compensation, these areas will typically allow you to create a comprehensive view for you to share with a prospective employer. At a minimum, make sure you understand your value before considering a job change!