Evaluating job offers

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Once you start the job search process, you will eventually begin getting offers anywhere from one week to six months after you start your search. There are three common mistakes typically made at this stage:

• Accepting the first offer received

• Failing to evaluate the offer

• Neglecting to put requests in writing

Accepting the first offer received

It is tempting to accept the first offer received and many do, either because they are afraid there will be no other offers, because they have been in the search a long time and need to get back to work, or because they doubt their own abilities and marketability.

To avoid making this mistake, realize that multiple offers are quite common, especially when you use a diversified search approach. If lack of income has put you in a bind, it may be unwise to wait for other offers. However, if you can afford to wait, it is best to use those multiple offers as leverage to optimize the compensation for the job you really want.

If you are ready to jump at the first offer due to lack of confidence in your abilities and skills, then seek the counsel of someone who can provide wise advice on how to proceed.

Failing to evaluate the offer

Often we may not know what to do when we have received an offer. For example, we sometimes fail to consider what the ideal job should include and we find it difficult to choose once we receive an offer. Sometimes we make decisions about accepting or rejecting job offers based solely on a hunch.

The best method for considering job offers is to pay attention to your initial reaction to the offer, but do not let that be the main determinant. Several offers can be compared against each other to validate a passionate “yes” to the offer or to reveal shortcomings in it that were not obvious. Here are some criteria for evaluation: 

1. The compensation package. Assess not only whether the salary is acceptable, but also look at the benefits included. Also, if benefits such as a computer, flexible scheduling and child care facilities are needed, be sure to ask for them.

2. Career development opportunities. In order to be a career owner, you will need to know that there are growth opportunities in the position you take and in the company. If this type of growth is important to you, look for training and tuition reimbursement provided by the company or for a company-wide commitment to employee development.

3.  Work/life balance issues. If you have a family, especially with young children or ailing parents, this may be an important factor to consider. Does the job require long commute times? Will you be required to work third shift, nights or weekends?

4. Company stability. Is the company stable or going out of business? What kind of reputation does the company have externally?

Neglecting to

put requests in writing

Lastly, always get offers in writing. Preliminary offers are often made verbally, pending a background check. Once your background check clears, the hiring manager should send you an official offer letter.

Without an offer letter, if there are misunderstandings, you have no basis to enforce what you understood as the terms of the job. Items to include in the offer letter are:

• Starting date

• Job title

• Job description

• Benefits in detail, such as number of vacation days, retirement benefits, etc.

• Requests related to relocation

• Bonuses, performance pay, medical benefits, etc.

•  Expense reimbursement for travel

• 401 (k) plans

Items such as stock options and severance pay are too detailed to include in an offer letter. Information regarding stock options is usually given as a supplemental insert in the benefits packet.

Look for regular “Ready for Work” columns on finding, keeping and succeeding in meaningful work. Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to mcintyre_tammy@rocketmail.com.