Job seekers who are up to speed on their interview etiquette know that asking about benefits during an interview is not OK. That kind of discussion is supposed to happen only after the employer extends an offer. That's understandable … if not especially efficient. Applicants may face several rounds of interviews, jumping through hoops, only to find that an offered job comes with inadequate family leave or without tuition assistance for ambitious employees. On the other side of the desk, employers don't want to waste resources courting potential hires who will balk at the finish line or, worse, hire on and jump ship as soon as they get a better offer.

To give employees a clearer picture of what companies offer -- and to allow companies to play up their perks -- career site Glassdoor this week launched a new benefits feature that shows employee ratings of 50 types of benefits and perks for companies. This is a cool feature for job seekers, who can save time by seeking out only the potential employers with the benefits they want, and by running Glassdoor's benefits comparison tool on the companies they're considering. It can also help companies save time and money recruiting the best matches for what they offer.

Benefits are a big issue for workers
According to Glassdoor survey results, 59% of workers would take a job with less pay if it offered better benefits. That's a percentage recruiters and companies should keep in mind when seeking new staff.

"When you're competing for top talent, benefits should be a key element of what you're offering," said Will Staney, "head talent warrior" at Glassdoor. "We've seen that benefits and perks play a large part in the reviews of the most highly rated companies on Glassdoor because they indicate something bigger about the culture of the company and how it values employees."

Detailed tools for better matches between employers and new hires
Not all companies on the site have benefits reviews yet, but that's likely to change as employees add anonymous reviews and companies optimize their profiles. There's a lot of ground to cover. The perks and benefits are grouped into categories:

  • Insurance, health, and wellness: This category includes medical and dental insurance as well as perks such as on-site health care.
  • Financial and retirement: Benefits here include 401K plans, stock options, bonuses, and charitable-giving matches.
  • Family and parenting: Maternity and family medical leave, child care, and work-from-home options are all grouped here.
  • Vacation and time off: This section includes the obvious, along with bereavement leave and time off for volunteer projects.
  • Perks and discounts: Does the company offer discounts on things like mobile phones and company products? Can Fido come to the office? This is where to find out.
  • Professional support: For workers in rapidly evolving fields, it's crucial to know going in what kind of training and tuition assistance an employer offers.

Glassdoor's new benefits format

Beyond employers and job seekers, this detailed spelling out of benefits has another potential audience -- currently employed professionals who are doing good work and preparing for an annual review. They could use the Glassdoor data to make a case for specific benefits they'd like to receive, especially if a search shows that competing companies are already offering those options.

As job searches and hiring processes become more transparent, companies that want to recruit and retain the best talent will have to be very attuned to what benefits that talent is looking for, and they will have to respond to changes in those trends. Transparency will also make it easier for job seekers to find the benefits they want at each stage of their career and personal life. Everyone may have to raise their game -- companies to deliver what talent wants, and job seekers to prove they're worth it. But if the net result is fewer mismatched hires and more time saved on job searches, everybody wins.