If you’ve turned on a television in the last 18 months, you’ve probably seen the commercials encouraging consumers to ask car dealerships to “Show them the CarFax” before purchasing a used vehicle. A CarFax report is a certified report detailing the history of the vehicle. The report covers several important topics, such as accident history, service records, ownership history and title issues, if any.

This product has gained quite a bit of momentum in the past few years due to the perception that used car dealerships are rather selective with what information they share with potential buyers. Having a CarFax report prior to beginning the negotiating process with the dealership provides the consumer an objective assessment and gives a clear picture of the vehicle’s history. Given everything such a report can provide, it wouldn’t be prudent for a potential buyer to start negotiating a price for a vehicle without having this information in hand.

But every day when people interview for positions at new companies, they make the same mistake. They discuss salary before they have collected all of the information to make the most informed decision. While there are no CarFax reports for job seekers, there is one company document that will be almost as useful—the benefit sheet. When benefits are introduced into the equation, the issue is no longer a matter of “salary,” but a matter of a “compensation package.” Below are some of the questions job seekers should have answered before discussing salaries with potential employers:

Very similar to reviewing a CarFax report for a vehicle, having a solid understanding of a company’s benefit package enables the job seeker to approach his or her negotiations with confidence. The next time the question is posed, “What are your salary expectations?” respond with “Show me the JobFax!” or “I’ll be happy to discuss compensation after we review the benefit package.” iBi