Unfortunately, there is no way that you can be absolutely sure that a potential job is right for you. Sometimes even the most promising aspects turn out to be a downhill move. What you can do is evaluate the job offer and decide whether or not you should accept based on your evaluation. Thinking carefully before making a decision can help eliminate some of your doubt and it can also protect you from making poor career choices.
Evaluating a Job Offer - Pros and Cons
To begin evaluating the pros and cons of your job offer, ask yourself a few simple questions:
Does the prospective job meet the criteria that I laid out when my job search first began?
Will the prospective job improve my level of satisfaction, personally and professionally?
Will this job take me down the path that leads to future career and/or personal goals?
Financially speaking, is the prospective job more profitable or at least comparable to previous positions that I have held?
If you answered no to all of these questions, then you should probably keep looking. If you answered yes to all, that's great! You may have found your dream job. A mixture of answers means you should continue your evaluation and proceed carefully.
Evaluating a Job Offer - Economics
Most people don't work for fun, they work for money. Therefore, compensation will probably be a key factor in your decision. Even if compensation doesn't rate number one on your list of priorities, you should at least take it into consideration.
To truly put the economics of your job offer into perspective, all things must be taken into account. Salary, benefits, and bonuses should be considered, and if you are moving to a new area, you will want to figure in relocation expenses and the area's cost of living.
Unless you are motivated only by money, a few extra bucks will never turn a bad job into a good job. The best approach is to decide if the job interests you and suits your needs. Once that has been established, decide your bottom line.
Evaluating a Job Offer - The Bottom Line
The bottom line is the lowest compensation amount that you would be willing to accept. For example, if you really want $30,000, but would think about $28,000 or settle for $26,000, then you haven't actually established a bottom line. Your bottom line needs to be firm and encompass the figure that you would be willing to walk away from. For example, if you would not be willing to work for less than $25,000, then your bottom line should be set at $25,001. Setting a bottom line clarifies your financial goals and makes negotiation easier.
Never reveal your bottom line to a potential employer- wait for them to make an offer. If they offer you more than your bottom line, feel good about it. If they offer you less, you have the option of turning it down or better yet, you can reveal to them what they would need to pay to gain your acceptance. Unless you are extremely offended by their offer, negotiation is always worth a try. Many employers expect it and that's why job applicants often get low-balled from the start.
Evaluating a Job Offer - The Extras
In some cases, money can present a problem for employers, especially when your salary requirements exceed their budget or create inequity within their company. (Little known fact: Internal equity issues are the cause of most deals that fail due to financial reasons.)
To remedy these problems, look for ways to increase your overall compensation without increasing your salary. Here are just a few examples of what you can ask for:
- A sign-on bonus
- Performance bonuses (paid in 30, 60, or 90 day intervals after pre-determined goals have been achieved.)
- A relocation bonus
- Stock options
- Free continued education
- Vacation packages
- Increased vacation time
Accepting the Offer
If everything about the employment offer meets your expectations, accept it as soon as possible. Don't keep you new employer on pins and needles. Not only does it show a lack of enthusiasm, it also shows a lack of commitment and professionalism.
Either way, once an offer is on the table, you shouldn't take more than a day or two to decide. If you have legitimate concerns or questions that need to be answered, don't hesitate to bring them up before making your decision. Thinking about the offer doesn't do any good if you don't have all of the facts.
And always keep in mind, if you decide to reject the offer, it may be impossible to get a second chance at a later date. The position may be offered to someone else or depending upon how the rejection is handled, the employer may feel insulted. Whatever you do, make sure your decision is final.
More on Evaluating a Job Offer