We’ve all felt the effects of the current labor shortage. But every cloud has a silver lining. There’s never been an easier time to find a job! But in a sea of opportunities, how can jobseekers find the best option?

“It’s important to look at the full package when comparing options.” says Melissa Anderson, who works in the human resources department at Community Transit. “Sign-on bonuses and higher starting wages are a good start, but benefits like health insurance and paid time off can add up to saved income over time.”

“For example, many have never heard of a pension, or they think pensions are from a bygone era,” says Anderson. “A pension can be a game changer for retirement planning.”

“A pension is a type of retirement plan that provides monthly income after you retire from your position,” explains Community Transit Benefits Coordinator Mary Lowery. “It pays benefits for the lifetime of the retiree and in some cases can continue to be made to the spouse of a deceased retiree.” Typically, a person must contribute to a pension for a minimum period of time to be eligible, also known as being “vested.” 

Pension terms may vary by organization, so it’s important to understand the eligibility requirements. “To be eligible for Community Transit’s pension, you must be vested, which typically takes five years,” says Lowery.

And a pension can offer the security that other retirement plans don’t. Karren Hill worked as a bus driver for Community Transit for over 40 years and retired in July, thanks to her retirement pension.

“I am retiring before I can collect Social Security, before I can get Medicare. The fact that I have that guaranteed income means a lot — I don’t have to worry about the stock market crashing it or anything else,” says Hill.

As more retirees find fulfillment in part-time work, pensions can also help subsidize a retirement that includes a second career. Income from a part-time job may adversely affect Social Security benefits, which can limit options for people looking to keep busy in their retirement years.

“I’ll get 80% of what my wages were for retirement. And I can go out and work part time or get another job if I want and not lose that pension,” says Hill.

Another benefit that can make planning less stressful? Paid time off.

“PTO is an essential benefit for anyone looking for work-life balance,” says Anderson. “And unpaid time off can add up to lost income pretty quickly.”

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor shows that only 2% of private industry workers have greater than 24 paid vacation days in their first year with an employer. That number increases by length of service but the numbers are still pretty dismal. Only 24% of workers after 20 years have greater than 24 days of PTO. 

“Community Transit drivers get 34 days of paid time off, holidays and accrued leave in their first year,” says Anderson. “And those numbers go up the longer they work here.”  

Along with the pension, Hill says she appreciates the great benefits Community Transit offers, including 95% company-paid medical insurance premiums, and 100% company-paid dental and vision benefit premiums.

“I like that we have a choice in what our medical, dental and vision are — and we don’t have to pay high premiums,” says Hill.

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And while benefits can vary wildly between employers, even the small perks can add up.

“When my husband passed away, they got me in touch with an estate attorney and the first visit didn’t cost anything.” says Hill.

“Ask questions that might help you decide if an employer is the right fit,” says Anderson. “Will they help pay your bus fare? Do you have to pay for a parking spot? Are there perks that might add up to a more enjoyable workday or saved income?”

“And remember that an employer isn’t just interviewing you — you’re interviewing them.” says Anderson. “Look for places that are transparent about what they offer and give you the opportunity to learn more. We hold regular virtual Career Chats at Community Transit because we know how important it is for prospective applicants to ask questions.”

So does luck really favor the prepared? “In a jobseeker’s market, you don’t need luck to get a job,” says Anderson. “But a little preparation can mean the difference between just another job and a career that you love.”

Community Transit helps people get from where they are to where they want to be. From a thriving vanpool program to the Swift Blue Line, Community Transit has been at the forefront of helping Snohomish County residents think transit first.