Evaluating Job Offers
Congratulations, you have been offered a job! Now what? It is always okay to take some time to think over the offer. Employers will often expect that a prospective employee will take a few days to a week to make a decision. If an employer pushes you to decide in the moment, that is a red flag. There may be urgent hiring situations where employers need to know as soon as possible, but they should still give you a day or two to consider the offer as a courtesy. Trust your instincts. If a job offer feels too good to be true, don’t commit. Read Avoiding Fraudulent Job Postings to learn more about common red flags.
Hiring and training employees can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Employers want individuals who are committed so it is better to professionally and courteously decline a job offer that is not a good fit than to start a job and immediately quit. Read our other guides to learn more about the negotiation process and accepting and declining job offers.
As you reflect on your job offer, keep in mind the common considerations outlined below. You may have your own unique concerns, but this list can help get you started. Organizations vary greatly in the policies and benefits they offer so keep in mind what considerations are most important to you.
Values play an important part in the career decision-making process. Consider what is most important to you in your career. Do you care most about having autonomy in your work? A high salary? A flexible schedule so you can spend time with your family? There is no right or wrong answer. It is simply about finding a job that is congruent with your key values. Some examples of career values include:
- Fast-Paced Work Environment
- Flexible Schedule
- High Salary
- Inclusive Work Environment
- Job Security
- Low Stress
- Task Diversity
Job Offer Considerations
What criteria should you consider when evaluating a job offer? There are some key categories that most criteria fall into. Read on to learn more about each category as you contemplate if the offer will be a good fit for you.
- Compensation Package
- Workplace Culture
- Professional Development
- Work Schedule Flexibility
- Stock Options
- Health Insurance
- Supplemental Insurance (Life Insurance, Vision Plan, Disability Insurance, etc.)
- Sick Time
- Vacation Days
- Other Incentives (On-site Childcare, Reimbursement for Wellness Activities like Gym Memberships, etc.)
Salary is an important factor, but keep in mind that benefits may vary widely. A job offer with a lower salary may make more financial sense if there are excellent benefits versus a job offer with a higher salary, but no benefits because you would be classified as a contractor. Consider the full package offered.
- Attire/Dress Code
- Communication Style
- Company Initiatives
- Employee Resource Groups
- Leadership Style
- Mission and Values of the Organization
- Organizational Structure
Workplace culture refers to the norms and shared beliefs in a workplace. One company may have a flexible workplace where the dress code is very casual and employees have the ability to work remotely or with flexible schedules. Another workplace may be very structured where employees are expected to wear suits, work a standard schedule, and adhere to clear chains of command.
Supervisors can have a huge impact on your job satisfaction. Consider whether their leadership style is compatible with your preferences and if the work environment seems like a place you could succeed.
Organizational structures can vary widely with some organizations having a very traditional hierarchy while others have a flattened structure. Who else would you frequently work with? How are teams/departments structured and would you mesh with your coworkers?
Does the company mission and values align with your own? For instance, if the company says they are focused on sustainability, how is that reflected? Do they have a sustainability committee? Are there policies in place to promote this? Have they been recognized by other entities for their work in this area?
- Job Responsibilities
- Career Path
- Company Stability
- Possibility for Advancement
Based on the information you have gathered thus far, will the role allow you to complete the tasks you enjoy and are skilled at? Will this position assist you in reaching your long-term career goals? Does the company invest in their employees and promote internally? How stable is the company and industry?
- Professional Organization Membership
- Tuition Assistance
Note that some organizations have set guidelines for professional development like paying for continuing education requirements for required certifications, covering the fee for up to two attempts at a licensure exam, or reimbursing a certain amount of tuition in a calendar year for related degree programs. Other organizations provide funding on a more situational basis as needs arise. Be aware that there may be policies about length of employment such as requiring employees to stay a year after completing a degree that was paid for by the company or only offering tuition benefits to employee who have been at the company for more than two years.
Work Schedule Flexibility
- Flexible Work Schedules
- Work From Home Policies
Consider your life responsibilities and how much work schedule flexibility may impact your job satisfaction. While some situations have legal protections like accommodations for a disability or those covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, other policies are at the discretion of the company. For example, a small but growing number of companies offer sabbaticals (paid or unpaid) where employees can take an extended leave for personal or professional development while remaining employed by the company. For instance, a company may offer a paid month-long sabbatical for employees who have completed 5 years of full-time employment with the company.
- Cost of Living
- Moving Expenses
- Proximity to Friends/Family
- Work Travel
Consider how location may impact your decision. Is it important for you to be near family/friends? How would the commute affect your schedule? Are you looking for an opportunity that requires travel as part of your job?
Making a Decision
After considering all of those factors, have you come to a decision? Do you feel like you have enough information? If not, you can conduct research in a variety of ways. For instance, you could talk to current or former employees of the company to learn about their perspective. Can you email or schedule a time to talk to the Human Resources representative, supervisor, or contact from the hiring committee? You may also be able find information online such as in the employee handbook, the human resources webpage, company website, or company reviews on sites like Glassdoor.com or others. Keep in mind what themes or patterns you are noticing. If you have concerns about expectations to work more than 40 hours a week and that is mentioned several times in reviews or employees note that there is a “work hard, play hard” culture, that is more validation of your concerns than a single off-hand comment.
Ultimately, you want to make the best decision with the information you have available. No job is perfect, but stay true to your values and factors that you consider most important. Everyone has different priorities so make a decision that will best fit your needs. You can’t anticipate every factor, but you can move ahead knowing that you have taken the opportunity to reflect.
Read the career guides about the negotiation process and accepting and declining job offers to prepare for the next steps in your decision-making process. If you would like to talk through your decision process you can always schedule an appointment with your career advisor through Handshake.