When you finally get a job offer, you might not even think twice before accepting it. After all, isn’t that the goal of all your weeks (and maybe months) of dedicated job searching? But not every job offer is the right one for you, so you’ll need to assess it carefully before moving forward.
And don’t forget to take into account changing work environments and priorities as the world continues to shift amidst coronavirus concerns—what may work for you now may not be a good fit several months (or years) down the road when employers and employees have both started to find their new normal.
Put yourself in a position of power by using these eleven tips to investigate a job offer and decide if it’s right for you.
1. Know Your Value
If you’ve been job searching for some time, any job offer might look pretty amazing to you right about now. The thing is, not all companies pay the same for similar job titles. Check out what the going rate for your job title in your metro area is with a salary calculator (PayScale offers tools to help you figure out what you’re worth by looking at your job and where you live). This can give you a good idea if the offer on the table is worth accepting.
You might have a “magic number” in your head that you’d like for a salary, but is that figure realistic? Do online detective work, consult professional associations, or ask those in your network to see what others in similar positions earn. Be sure to take into account geographical differences, background, and educational experience.
What you find may lead you to reconsider your definition of an acceptable wage, or the data can serve as a solid springboard to discuss the matter with the prospective employer.
But don’t just look at today’s salary. Consider your future salary, too. Make sure you understand what your salary will look like after you accept the offer. Are there guaranteed cost-of-living increases? What kinds of raises does the company give out? Depending on where your salary starts and how much it increases over time, you may find out that the salary of today doesn’t cover the bills of tomorrow.
If you’ve been laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, you may be willing to take a lower salary now until the economy recovers—and that’s completely fine! If you’re being offered a similar position for less pay, though, speak with the employer about potential raises once things settle down so you can get back to your salary expectations sooner than later.
2. There’s More to Pay Than Salary
Compensation comes in many forms, so don’t make decisions based solely on salary. A package may be much more appealing than initially thought when adding in all the perks and benefits. Don’t forget to examine the following when evaluating a job offer:
- Vacation and time off allowed: How much do you get a year, and how much can you take at one time?
- Health insurance: What kinds of plans does the company offer, and how much do they pay versus what you pay?
- Flexibility: Are the hours flexible? If currently virtual, will remote work continue after the pandemic?
- Stock or profit-sharing: How much is guaranteed? Or, what is the potential amount you’ll get a year?
- Tuition reimbursement: Will they cover one class here and there, or will they potentially pay for you to get an advanced degree?
- Raises and bonuses: Do they offer these incentives? If so, how often and how are they calculated?
- Retirement: What kind of retirement plan is there, and how much will the company contribute on your behalf?
- Other perks: Do they pay for a gym membership? Laptop and cell phone? Do they offer paid family leave?
There are a lot of “other” factors to consider than money. Having access to unlimited time off or a flexible schedule may be worth more to you than salary. Employers take all of the benefits offered to employees into account when they set salaries, so make sure you’re looking at the entire package before you say the pay is too low.
3. Do a Company Health Check
Do thorough research and make sure that the company is in a healthy position. This is important when evaluating a job offer during any times–but especially during an economic downturn. You can check out its Better Business Bureau rating and search it on social media to see if there are any financial red flags you might need to worry about.
And keep in mind that industries that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic or may be struggling for a while, so if you do see signs of trouble in these types of companies, it may be wise to take a pass. That said, there are many industries that have seen growth during these uncertain times, too. Make sure you have a strong understanding of the company’s sector.
4. Calculate in the (Potential) Commute
Most people are working from home these days, so it’s easy to get excited about a new job offer and put off thoughts of a potential commute when offices do begin to open back up. Unless the company has decided to embrace remote work permanently, however, there’s always a chance you’ll be facing commuting traffic at some point in the future. Be sure to map out how long your commute could be and whether this is something that would work for you.
5. Taxes, Moving, and Cost of Living
If this job means moving somewhere new, make sure you research the tax rate wherever you’re headed. Paying more (or less) in taxes will affect your take-home pay.
And while you’re calculating taxes, don’t forget to take the cost of living into account, too. Living somewhere like New York or San Francisco costs more—a lot more—than most other places. So, make sure your new salary covers your expenses and then some. Find out how far a dollar will go in your new location, then accept (or negotiate!) accordingly.
6. Pick Apart the Personalities
You loved the company you interviewed with, but your prospective boss? Eh, sort of. While a sweet job offer (or even multiple job offers!) might have you wearing professional love goggles, that can fade quickly once you have to report to a boss who’s not really your cup of tea. Try to determine what your boss’ management style would be and see if it works for you.
7. See If You Fit
While you’re evaluating a job offer, see if you can gain some insight into the company’s culture, too. Social media is a great place to start, as are review sites like Glassdoor. But, you can also learn more about culture by a company’s branding and reflecting on your interview experience. Did you get along well with the people that you talked to? What did they say about their time at the company–good and bad?
8. Figure Out What Matters Most
While earnings undoubtedly play a big role in whether or not to accept a position, money does not always guarantee job satisfaction. Perhaps you’d be willing to accept less to join a workplace that meshes with your personality or deeply held values.
Take some time to examine your personal values and compare those to the organizations. Does the company seem like an all-work and no-play kind of organization? Or, does it seem like they prioritize work-life balance? Ask yourself what’s important to you and what you won’t give up for a job.
9. Consider What Will You Learn
Every job has its required set of responsibilities. Do the ones presented to you sound like something that you’d like to do every day? Or are there other skills that you’d like to be using but won’t be able to in this new role? This should weigh heavily when you evaluate a job offer.
Consider what you’ll be doing, day in and day out, and then decide if this would make you happy. Remember, you’re ideally accepting a job offer so that you can stay and grow with the company. If those opportunities don’t exist, the job offer might not be worth your while.
10. Move Forward
In a perfect world, each job on your career ladder should be an improved version of your previous one. That could mean anything from better benefits or a superior salary to a great work-life balance while also working in a role that both challenges and inspires you.
If you’re staying in the same field, make sure that this new position moves your career forward. Are you taking on new responsibilities? Learning new skills? If it’s a lateral move, how does this new job improve your career prospects in the future? Will it expand your skillset? Or are you doing more of the same, just with a different title?
Whatever the new role is, make sure it’s a step forward, whatever “forward” means to you. And remember to be kind to yourself—in these unprecedented times, forward may just mean a steady job that can bridge the gap until you can get back on your intended path.
11. Include the Hidden Costs
There are obvious costs of changing jobs.
However, there are hidden costs you should consider, too. For example, even if you are working remotely at the beginning, if you have a longer commute when you do return to the office, you’ll have to spend more on gas and wear and tear on your car. Plus, you might have to spend more money on daycare to make up for time away from home.
What starts as a higher salary can be slowly eaten away by hidden and unexpected expenses. Make sure you’re thinking about everything you might have to pay for with this new job.
Successfully Evaluate Your Job Offer
Evaluating a job offer can be difficult. Don’t feel pressured or rushed into accepting a job offer—if you do, it’s probably not the right job. Keep the lines of communication open with HR and ask as many questions as you need to to help ensure you’re making the right choice.
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