Evaluating a Job Offer

You’ve sent out a zillion resumes and networked 24/7. You’ve gone on too many interviews to count. At last, you receive a job offer! You’re so happy a company actually wants you you’re ready to start on the spot.

Just a sec….

Don’t toss your job requirements in the trash in the euphoria of being wanted. Sure, it’s great to know you beat out the competition. And it’s wonderful that a company is willing to give you some money on a regular basis. But ask any career expert on the planet: you’ll hear that it’s wise to carefully evaluate an offer before you dive in head first.

Does the position match your career goals? Is the company culture a good fit? Will the commute leave your sanity mostly intact by the end of the working day? A job looks like it pays well, but if it’s not the right fit, you won’t last long in it.

But deciding whether to accept a job offer is not always easy. If you need help, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Career Services to discuss a specific job offer with a counselor. In addition, here some things to consider when evaluating a job offer and whether it’s right for you.

Do You Need More Information?

Before even weighing pros and cons, take a good look at the offer in case you need any additional information that will affect your decision. Maybe you didn’t have the chance to ask all the questions you wanted to at the interview. If you didn’t, call one of your interviewers or seek out a UMass Lowell alumnus who works there by using LinkedIn.com. You can also join the UMass Lowell Alumni-Student Career Connections group on LinkedIn. For questions about some elements of the benefits package, an HR person at the company may be able to help you.

Is the salary in line with what the job is worth? For information on salaries and wage ranges for specific job titles, see WAGE Women Are Getting Even. Although this site is geared toward women, the information is universally helpful.

Is the salary enough to meet your financial needs? A great tool to evaluate your anticipated take-home pay is PaycheckCity - web-based paycheck calculators. Use the Salary Paycheck Calculator to determine whether your net pay (your gross pay minus tax deductions) will be acceptable. Keep in mind you may have other deductions for certain benefits.

Look at the Big Picture

Once you have all the information you need, it’s time to evaluate the offer. Start by checking the big picture: will this job fulfill or be a stepping-stone to your career goals? If not, think twice about accepting it. Let’s say a firm career objective of yours is to work as a CPA in a public accounting firm. Accepting an attractive position in finance, no matter how well paid, may bring you no closer to your goal.

Know Your Personal Deal-Breakers

If the position does fit in with your career goals, think next about the individual elements of the job and the offer. Some factors to consider:

  • Daily job responsibilities
  • Company culture
  • Opportunities for continuing education
  • Stability of organization
  • Level of responsibility
  • Variety of work
  • Transferability of skills/experience from job
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Location
  • Work hours
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Travel
  • Opportunity for advancement

Keep in mind that NO job will have all the features you want; you will definitely have to make trade-offs. To do this, you’ll need to determine which features might be deal-breakers for you. For example, maybe you can accept a position that offers only two weeks of vacation, but the hour-long commute that goes with the job is a deal-breaker. Making a good decision takes knowing which of your values and desires are most important to you.

Can Anything Be Changed?

Sometimes, there’s something about the offer that actually can be changed. This will involve negotiation. Let’s say you’ve been offered two weeks of vacation but having three weeks is important to you. In order to ask for three weeks from the hiring manager, you need to offer something in return. For instance, perhaps you can propose beginning work sooner than the original start date. To take another example, maybe a long commute is holding up your decision. In this instance, you can try to negotiate a different work schedule that will cut down on rush-hour traffic and your commuting time.

All in all, the effort you make in carefully evaluating a job offer will absolutely be worth it. It can make the difference between success and failure at your first professional job.