Tips for Evaluating a Job Offer

Your potential employer isn't psychic. This is how to ask for (and get) exactly what you want.

Tips for Evaluating a Job Offer

Follow this advice when evaluating a job offer.

Evaluating a job offer can be overwhelming. Sure, it's exciting being the chosen one, and you may worry that if you don't say yes right away it'll all vanish. But don't let that heady excitement drive you toward a rash decision. Learning how to evaluate a job offer takes time and careful consideration.

You don't want to end up taking a job that sounded awesome only to find yourself working in a tiny cubicle for 10 hours a day, with a terrible 401(k) match and coworkers who don't laugh at your jokes.

Take a breath. Consider the whole picture. Make a list of what you really need and want from your next job. The things we must have and the things that would be nice to have are very personal and change as our needs change.

Envision your life (and your bank account balance) six months from now. If it's measurably improved, this job could be a great fit. If not, you might need to keep looking. Use this three-part checklist to evaluate a job offer.

Start With the Money

Salary is probably your No. 1 consideration when it comes to determining whether a job is a great fit. Once you're offered a salary, double check your budget to make sure it's really enough.

This is especially important if the job requires a move or major change in your commute. Will your commute be longer? Will this require more gas or taking a train or bus? How much will that cost?

After calculating those expenses, make sure you have enough money left over to contribute to your retirement fund as well as your savings account—even if it's only a relatively small amount.

Other financial aspects to consider when evaluating a job offer:

  • Bonuses. Is there a sign-on bonus? Is there an opportunity to earn performance-based bonuses?
  • Health insurance and wellness benefits. Analyze the premium you'll pay and compare that with the co-pays and deductibles. Pay especially close attention if you are comparing traditional plans with high-deductible options.
  • Retirement. Factor in your contributions, employer matches, elimination periods, vesting schedules, and pre-tax savings.
  • Profit-sharing or stock options. Request details and timelines, if this is part of your compensation plan.
  • Relocation assistance. If you have to move for this job, will the company pay for all or part of your expenses?
  • Day-care or child-care reimbursement. Is there on-site daycare or a child care subsidy?
  • Ancillary benefits. Ancillary or voluntary benefits are things like cancer insurance, life insurance, identity theft protection, or legal services. Some companies also throw in other enticements like free bus passes or complimentary dry cleaning.

These offerings may sweeten the pot, or they may not matter to you. If you live in a city like Philadelphia or Los Angeles, think about parking and transit commuter benefits as cash money that you saved or spent from your check. Conversely, benefits that you don't need (like pre-paid legal or pet insurance) don't add any value to the job offer.

Then Think About the Company Culture

You're going to be spending an awful lot of time at this new job. Yes, it's important that it pay your bills, but you also want to feel like you fit in. Here are some things to consider.

  • Work environment. Ask to take a tour, including where you would be seated. Can you see yourself working in that space? If it's a large room with cubicles, is there a place to go to make private calls on your break or lunch? Do the other employees seem happy or overwhelmed? Is there natural light? What's the dress code? Even a virtual tour can reveal a lot about the corporate culture.
  • Professional development. Inquire about opportunities for advancement, obtaining certifications, and additional development training.

Finally, Take Your Needs Into Account

Just as the in-office culture is important, so is the balance your job strikes with the rest of your life. When evaluating a job offer, ask yourself if you'll be able to spend as much time with your family as you want. Will you get to travel for fun, or be so tired of traveling for work that you don't even want to?

Whatever your final package ends up being, get everything in writing. The handshake deal you made for remote work and an annual performance bonus with this boss may not be honored if he or she leaves the organization. Here's what to consider:

  • Travel requirements. How much travel will be required of you? What travel-related expenses will be reimbursed? Will you have to arrange child care or a pet sitter when you're out of town?
  • Paid time off, vacations, personal or sick days, family leave. Find out upfront about time-off policies. Ask about vacation blackout dates, extended personal leave policies, and the like.
  • Remote work. Will the company let you work from home sometimes? All the time?
  • Schedule flexibility. It can be difficult to negotiate more flexibility once you've started, so go for it now. You can also check the company's careers page and social media profiles to see if they mention flexible work arrangements.

Know what to anticipate

Evaluating a job offer is not something to rush through, especially since you'll be spending a whole lot of time at that job. Your career will throw a whole lot of options your way, so it's a good idea to prepare for some curveballs. Need some help? Make a free profile on Monster to get started. As a member, you can get career advice and job-search tips sent directly to your inbox. From negotiating a salary to asking for a raise to getting promoted, you'll learn the best ways to position yourself for greatness. Taking the wrong job can wind up costing your career a lot, but a Monster membership doesn't cost you a dime and offers lots of valuable insider knowledge. Get on board today!