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How to evaluate a job offer

No two job offers are exactly alike. Whether the job is across town or across the country, consider these things when deciding if it’s right for you. 

Understanding your value

As you evaluate a job offer, you may need some context to know if it’s good, bad, or average. Investigate salaries for people in similar positions, at your prospective companies and elsewhere. If you’re in the position of evaluating multiple offers, there’s a good chance that your skills are in demand and you’re a qualified candidate. Consider starting with sites like Glassdoor®—it has a tool you can use to search salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also compiles salary information in the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Occupational Employment Statistics publication. 

Understand what you’re giving up

Unless you’re brand new to the workforce you may be leaving a job to take a new one. Before you turn in your resignation, take the time to evaluate your benefits and make sure you’re not losing anything vital or costing yourself money. For instance, if you have an outstanding loan from your workplace retirement plan, you’ll need to repay it relatively soon, within a month or two. If it’s not paid back, your loan could default and become a taxable distribution with potential penalties. Review your workplace retirement plan rules or for more info. 
Some workplace retirement plans also have vesting requirements and you may lose some or all the employer matching contributions if you leave before you’re fully vested.

Weigh non-salary benefits

Salary can be easily measured and compared but it doesn’t tell the whole story. There may be a bonus, a relocation package, or stock options—any of which increase the value of the offer. The benefits package is also important and may include a retirement plan, employer matching contributions, profit sharing, and health insurance. Some employers may offer a laundry list of other benefits like student loan repayment, adoption assistance, and life and disability insurance. They may even include perks designed to make life easier, like the option to work from home, unlimited vacation time, gym memberships, and commuter benefits. 
Health benefits can be a big one—obviously. Many people target their job search with health insurance coverage at the top of the list. If you or your family members have any significant health issues, it can make sense to make sure the health benefits match your needs. 

Other things to consider in a job offer

  • Your long-term career development. Does one job offer the chance for more growth than another? 
  • The culture and colleagues. The importance of your daily life at work can’t be overstated. Do you enjoy the culture and people you work with at your current employer? If you’re considering outside job offers, how well do you think you would fit in at each of your prospective organizations? Consider the overall flexibility of the work environment as well. Being able to start earlier or later than the traditional 9 to 5 schedule may be a bonus. 
  • How much influence will you have? Your impact at work can depend on the size of the organization and your role within it. Will you have a chance to shine in one organization versus another? It can be frustrating to be in a role with limited impact if you’re hoping to get noticed and move up. That’s not always the case—some people just want to do their job and go home. 
  • Commuting and travel. This is a big quality-of-life issue. Spending a long time commuting every day or even several times a week can impact your happiness. It may be a consideration if one of your employment options is more convenient. Traveling for a job can be similar. Some people love to travel for work but not everyone does. Understanding what works with your life and your preferences can help you find the best fit. 
  • Remote working options. Some lines of work allow and even encourage you to work from home. Such an option is not only a question of work-life balance, but some companies are actively encouraging people to work remotely to save on real estate costs or to deal with crowding. 

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.