Evaluating an Offer
Once you have an offer in hand, you need to evaluate it. You don’t have to answer immediately; ask for a reasonable period to think it over (a week or so is not out of line). Use that time to talk with your family and others whose advice you value. Be careful not to consult with too many people, though — if you ask eight or 10 people you’ll get that many different viewpoints, making it difficult to weigh so much advice along with your own judgment. No one knows what you want and need as well as you do.
Be Clear About Wants vs. Needs
For each position you have considered, you need to compare what you need and want with what the position offers. A need is something that is essential and non-negotiable: for example, challenging, meaningful work. Career growth and advancement. A congenial, supportive workplace. Stable employment and financial security.
A want is something that is desirable, but not essential: A particular climate or a location with opportunities for cultural pursuits. An office with windows. Superior compensation. Early opportunities to lead others.
With your wants and needs as the context, you can assemble your job search data.
- Your stated goals and values
- A list of your skills and strengths
- Your resume or CV
Regarding the employer
- The job description in its full context
- Your interview notes and impressions
- Correspondence and employer information
- What your network is telling you about that employer
Ask yourself what skills are needed to do the job well based on the job description, as well as from your interview notes and impressions. What are your feelings and judgment about the values and culture of the work group? Your future supervisor’s communication style? How, specifically, will this job help to advance your professional success and personal happiness?
Perhaps the best thing to do with your advice is to put it on paper. Draw a line down the middle of a page; label the left side “Pros” (reasons to accept the job) and the other side “Cons” (reasons to reject it). List your reasons in each column, and then analyze your results. If you’re lucky, one column will be much longer than the other. If not, rank your reasons, giving more decision weight to the higher-priority items.
As you consider the offer, think about the base salary and salary potential, future career prospects, benefits, commuting time, the people you’ll be working with and reporting to, job responsibilities, and all the other intangible variables. Questions you should consider:
- Do I like the work?
- Can I be trained in a reasonable time, giving me a realistic chance of success on the job?
- Are my responsibilities likely to be challenging? Is that what I want?
- Is the opportunity for growth in the job compatible with my needs and desires?
- Are the organization’s location, stability, and reputation in line with my needs?
- Is the atmosphere or culture of the organization conducive to enjoying the work?
- Can I get along with my new manager and immediate work group?
- Are the salary and total compensation package merely acceptable, or are they highest I am likely to get?
Remember, money is only part of the evaluation process; salary is no substitute for job satisfaction. Nothing is worse than waking up every Monday morning dreading the coming week. Gratification from your daily work, or setting yourself up for a better long-term career, can be more valuable than a few extra dollars.
Rank your alternatives - What are your options besides this job offer?
- Other employment offers
- Continue in your current job
- Pursue additional education and (or) training
- Take a temporary job
What are the consequences of each?
- Better (or worse) fit with your values
- More productive use of your talents
- Greater compensation (salary and benefits)
- Better location (geography, opportunities)
- More agreeable boss and coworkers
One alternative you should consider is continuing with the status quo, if the position in question is less than desirable for whatever reason. You should also decide at what point you will not negotiate any further. If you have an offer from one company, what is your best alternative? If it’s unemployment then you might want to take the offer. If you have three other offers, you are in a stronger position to negotiate for more.