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How to Evaluate a Job Offer

by Ryan Guina

Last month I mentioned I was interviewing with two companies. Well, I have great news – I received job offers from both companies last week! Now I need to make a decision between them, and quickly. One of the offers is only good until this Friday because they need to get the position staffed ASAP.

The positions are fairly similar on several levels, and on other levels they are very different. But there is a lot involved when evaluating a job offer, so I thought I would share some of the factors I am considering while I am making my decision.

Evaluating a job offer

Job / Position. How does this job fit into your long term career plans? Is this job offer for a job or a career? In my opinion, a job is usually a short term means to an end; a task you perform in exchange for money. A career is a chosen profession that often takes development and planning. Other factors to consider: job title, responsibility level, number of people you manage, reporting structure, etc.

Opportunity. Do you have the chance to grow as a professional and individual? Will you have a chance to make decisions, lead or manage groups, is there promotion opportunity, and can you learn skills that are easily transferable?

Company health. How healthy is the company giving you the job offer? Do they have long term contracts or long standing relationships with their customers? Are they having financial difficulties? You will probably already know some of this from your research prior to your interview, but if you have multiple job offers, you can compare the companies to each other.

Work / Life Balance. Quality of life is one of the most important things to me and to a lot of other people. Will you need to carry a pager or cell phone over the weekend? Do you have rigid work hours, or can you work flex time? Can you work from home part of the time? Will you be required to work night shifts, or weekends and holidays?

Commute. How long is the commute? Long commutes can have a negative impact on both your health and your cash flow – especially with these rising gas prices. A long commute also cuts into your quality of life because it takes you away from your family longer every day. In my opinion, the shorter the commute the better!

Company culture. Is the company culture stiff and uptight, jeans and a t-shirt, or somewhere in between? Do people hang out together after work, have frequent happy hours, or participate in intramural sports teams, or is it primarily a culture of “go to work, go home, repeat?” Other factors to consider: company organization, corporate structure, dress code (I know people who refuse to wear a suit and tie everyday!), etc.

Travel. Are you required or expected to travel? How far and how often? Personally, I don’t mind the occasional business trip, but I wouldn’t like being on the road every other week, or for an extended period of time.

Benefits and perks. I will separate benefits from salary, even though they are closely related. One of the most important factors to consider is whether the health care package meets your needs. Other important benefits: 401(k) plan, pension plan, vacation time, sick time, disability, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, sponsored day care, etc.

Salary / Compensation. Compensation covers a lot of factors; the salary you earn as direct compensation is only part of it. You also need to consider factors such as a commissions, bonuses, stock options, and projected salary increases.

Choose what is best for your situation. Accepting a job offer is about more than just accepting a salary. There are many other factors that are just as important, if not more important, than the final number on your paycheck. In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your situation – even if that means leaving salary or other compensation on the table. If you dread going to work each day, you will be miserable, and that isn’t worth any price.

Your tips… Do you have any tips for evaluating a job offer, or are there things that are more important to you when you decide between jobs? I’m interested in reading them – I have a decision to make very shortly! Feel free to leave a comment! :)


Published or updated June 1, 2009.
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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dividend Investor

I have nothing else to add except go with your gut. Accept the position with the people with which you “clicked” best. Chances are you will have to work with them, so you’d rather work with individuals who are similar in nature to you.

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2 Frugal Dad

This is an extension of company culture…I have made it a habit to look around desks, cubicles, etc. when being interviewed to see what kinds of things my potential bosses and coworkers are interested in. If the offices look “comfy” and have things like plants, souvenirs, family photos, etc. displayed then I know that workers feel comfortable enough in the stability of the company to “settle in.” If the majority of the offices are bland with nothing but computers and papers on the desktops that tells me the workforce is “traveling light,” a sign of uncertainty.

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3 Ryan

Excellent comments. :)

The work environment is very important to me. I want to go where I am comfortable.

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4 Jarhead

While a long commute is detrimental a commute that is too short can have the same impact. A commute of about 30 minutes is nice because it lets you unwind from the stresses at work. You can drop everything just by blaring a little Metalica or something and then when you get home you have all those stesses gone and have productive time at home without stessing the family.

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5 deepali

Research shows that shortening your commute is one of the top 5 ways to increase happiness. :)

I agree that quality of life is key as well… and I tend to pick benefits (ie, good 401K matching, reimbursement of tuition or commuting expenses, etc) over salary. The second can always change later. :)

You alluded to this – but room for growth? Unless you’re only looking for a short-term thing, it’s important to consider your options for promotion/learning new skills, etc. Also, opportunities for networking and other professional development… even something like skills training.

Good luck!

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6 Maria @ Financial-Tip

Don’t forget to follow your instincts in the end. if you have to convince yourself to take a job because of intellectual reasons, and your heart isn’t into it, think twice.

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7 Ryan

Deepali,

I’m all about quality of life! My time is limited enough as it is, and the last thing I want to do is spend 2 hours in a car every day. Your tips on growth and opportunity are right up my alley as well. In my opinion, they are more important than salary, especially when starting out.

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8 Ryan

Maria,

I agree. I am the kind of person who needs a challenge, but I also have to believe in what I do. Otherwise, I just don’t perform well and it shows.

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9 Ryan

Jarhead, I agree. A short commute is nice to let your unwind. And yes, Metallica can take the stress out of just about any situation. ;)

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10 No Debt Plan

If someone called you and told you they position was no longer available, which one would you truly regret not taking?

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11 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

I’m glad you didn’t put salary as the first thing to consider, though it is very important. I’ve made two job decisions based on salary and I’ve regretted both!

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12 Kelly

Don’t forget those little benefits you may be taking for granted when getting the full benefits package. Things like direct deposit, standard paid holidays, sick day policy, and short term disability (I checked on long term, but just assumed short term) really go a long way.

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13 rob

You have some great points in your article above.
I think to me the most important thing to consider is the quality of Life your job offers you.
I have been on my own for almost 10 years now. I always followed my heart. When I first started my own business it was a little Sign business. I didnt make a whole lot but enough to pay bills and a little more. But the fullfillment I got from doing what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it with so much flexibility was truly awesome.I was hooked on it from then on to be my own boss forever. :)

I say that your job should be something that really does increase the quality of your Life in a positive, general way. Does it get too much in the way with spending time with your family or take away from your ability to maintain your health ?? etc..etc..
Also money should be secondary but do also realize you do need enough to cover your living expenses and provide for your family.

I know its cliche but you should follow your Heart. It will truly tell you where your soul should dwell !! ;)

BTW, Great Site you have here. I have bookmarked it for future reference

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14 Abaculus

Great information you provided. It’s good that you listed Job / Position. 1st. I think its very important to weigh the long term probabilities
of your position in the future. Most people are looking for their dream job. Some people would put
pay/income as their 2nd choice, and probably
benefits as their 3rd choice. Although some jobs either offer limited or no benefits.

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15 Sheena Prendergast

I HAVE A VERY SIMILAR JOB OFFER I AM TRYING TO DECIDE ON. I WORK FOR A GREAT, SMALLER LIENENT MORTGAGE BROKER. I MAKE ONLY $12/HOUR AND AM WORTH MORE BUT THEY CANT REALLY AFFORD IT RIGHT NOW. A MUCH LARGER, STRICT MONEY MAKING BROKER OFFERED ME A JOB PAYING $15/HOUR. IT IS ABOUT 10 MINS FURTHER DRIVE.NOT SO BAD.. BUT I AM LATE FOR EVERYTHING ALWAYS. I HAVE TRIED ALL THE TRICKS I JUST CAN NOT SEEM TO MAKE IT ANYWHERE ON TIME. INCLUDING WORK. AND I KNOW THAT THIS COMPANY WILL NOT PUT UP WITH THAT, WHEREAS THE COMPANY IM AT DOESNT MIND AND WE’RE ALL LIKE A FAMILY KIND OF. I REALLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO BECUZ I AM SO BROKE AND I COULD REALLY USE THE $, BUT I DONT WANT TO LEAVE AND GO THERE AND GET FIRED FOR BEING LATE ALL THE TIME AND HAVE NO JOB AND NO $. PLEASE HELP!!! :-(

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16 Ryan

Hello Sheena,

I think you have answered your own question. If you are habitually late and cannot make it to work on time and your prospective employer would use that as grounds to dismiss you, it probably isn’t worth taking the job only to lose it a few days/weeks/months later.

So you have a choice: accept the job offer and train yourself to show up on time, or decline the job offer and learn to make do with your current income.

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17 Ranjana

you didn’t put salary as the first thing to consider, though it is very important.When I started my own business. I didnt make a whole lot but enough to pay bills, salary and a little more. But I got from doing what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it with so much flexibility was truly awesome.I was hooked on it from then on to be my own boss forever.
I know money should be secondary but do also realize you do need enough to cover your living expenses.

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18 Ryan

Ranjana: I didn’t put salary first for a reason – yes, I believe you should earn enough to survive, and hopefully more than that so you can truly enjoy life and save for retirement. But I also believe that nothing good happens when people chase the highest paying job. People will be much happier taking a lightly lower paying job if it means the job is fulfilling vs. taking the highest paying job that is dangerous or soul sucking. The best advice I can give is to take the job that offers the best quality of life when considering all elements of the position. :)

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