Congratulations on your job offer! Now, how do you decide whether or not to accept it? It is important for you to fully understand and evaluate the employment package being offered to you. Evaluating an offer isn’t always simple, especially if it’s the first offer you’ve received. It is critical that you pay attention to other factors besides salary when taking a job offer into consideration. If you’ve been given a verbal offer, request it in writing so that you have all the relevant details.
Reflecting on your personal and professional goals in advance will be helpful so that you have something to refer to when considering different aspects of the offer. Think about what skills you want to develop, where you see yourself in the next few years, and what makes you happy. Ideally, you want to make a decision that is consistent with your values and aspirations. Below are some tips to help you to figure it out.
There are some key questions to ask when evaluating the salary. The first is whether or not the offered amount of money is enough for you to live on. If you’re not sure how much you need, consider creating an inventory of expenses. What fixed expenses will you incur? How much is rent in the city of employment? Will you have a car and insurance payment? Do you have student loans that you will be paying back? Next, consider discretionary expenses. How much do you spend on things like clothes, entertainment, and electronics? If thinking about your finances is new to you, consider utilizing a budgeting and tracking app such as Mint.
The next thing to consider is whether the offer is in line with the local market. In order to determine the answer to this question, you must know what someone with your skills and level of experience is paid in similar roles in the same city. There are several websites that can help you to investigate this. Salary.com, Glassdoor, or the Educate to Career Salary Calculator are good starting points. It is worth noting that entry-level salaries can vary dramatically by industry and location. If you’re applying to many different types of opportunities, be aware that the salaries may not be comparable.
There are a few other questions to consider when evaluating the salary. Will you get a signing bonus? Does the salary include commission or incentives? Is there opportunity for growth? You may want to consider negotiating the salary if you feel that the salary is not sufficient for you to live on or not in line with the local market. Prepare for negotiation by doing your research and providing evidence of how your accomplishments, contributions, skills and experience will bring unique value to the organization. Be aware that salary negotiation is not always possible. Some organizations provide identical compensation packages to all new hires, and, therefore you would need to demonstrate extraordinary unique value in order to negotiate for additional monetary compensation. That being said, it is always worth asking for flexibility should you feel that the offered amount is less than the normal range for someone in your position.
Don’t ignore the benefits package. Benefits are worth a lot of money and can also be brought up in negotiations. In addition to different types of insurance such as health, vision, life, and dental, benefits can consist of flexibility in hours and office time, health and wellness discounts, office equipment, overtime, holidays and vacation time, parking and commuting reimbursement, professional development and tuition remission, and retirement plans such as a 401(k) or 403(b).
Fit of Job
While it may be tempting to accept any offer on the table, it is worth spending time reflecting on whether this opportunity is right for you. No offer is perfect, so it is critical to determine which aspects are important to you as well as those that you may be willing to forgo. Think through the below questions to get a sense of your priorities.
Professional Development: Is there room for growth at the organization? What skills will I be developing in this role? What will I learn? Will I be given opportunities to network with professionals in the field? Can I imagine a career path that follows this opportunity?
Organizational culture: Do people seem happy working there? What is the organizational mission? Do I like and respect my potential boss?
Lifestyle: How many hours will I be working per week? How often will I be required to travel? Does the geographic location allow me access to friends/family/social activities? Do I have paid time off? What will my commute be like?
While talking through your decision with family members, trusted friends, mentors, recent alum, and advisors may be helpful, this is ultimately your decision. If you’d like to talk to a career coach about your offer, visit the Career Center during drop-ins on Monday–Friday from 12:30–2:00 p.m.
–By Julianne Smith, Associate Director, Career Education