Comparing job offers is much more than just comparing salaries. There are many factors you need to consider to help decide which job offer is best for your current, and future professional goals. In this article I’ll share my personal and professional experiences comparing different job offers, and I’ll cover which job offer I took, and why.
Several years ago I was in a career transition. I was in a job that wasn’t meeting my professional goals. I felt trapped in a position that wasn’t offering growth opportunity, or the salary I believed I was worth on the open market. After working with my managers for several months, I realized those growth opportunities I was seeking weren’t going to open any time soon. So I put out feelers and ended up interviewing with two companies. And I received great news – I received job offers from both companies! But that put me in a position where I needed to make a decision between them, and quickly. One of the offers was only good for a week because they need to get the position staffed ASAP.
The positions I was comparing were fairly similar on several levels, and on other levels they were very different. But there is a lot involved when evaluating a job offer, so I thought I would share some of the factors I am considering while I am making my decision.
Evaluating a Job Offer – 10 Factors to Consider
The following factors should play an important role in your decision making process:
Job / Position
How does this job fit into your long term career plans? Is this job offer for a job or a career? In my opinion, a job is usually a short term means to an end; a task you perform in exchange for money. A career is a chosen profession that often takes development and planning. Other factors to consider: job title, responsibility level, number of people you manage, reporting structure, etc.
Professional Opportunity & Career Growth Potential
Do you have the chance to grow as a professional and individual? Will you have a chance to make decisions, lead or manage groups, is there promotion opportunity, and can you learn skills that are easily transferable?
Company & Industry Health
How healthy is the company giving you the job offer? Do they have long term contracts or long standing relationships with their customers? Are they having financial difficulties? You will probably already know some of this from your research prior to your interview, but if you have multiple job offers, you can compare the companies to each other.
Work / Life Balance
Quality of life is one of the most important things to me and to a lot of other people. Will you need to carry a pager or cell phone over the weekend? Do you have rigid work hours, or can you work flex time? Can you work from home part of the time? Will you be required to work night shifts, or weekends and holidays?
How long is the commute? Long commutes can have a negative impact on both your health and your cash flow – especially with these rising gas prices. A long commute also cuts into your quality of life because it takes you away from your family longer every day. In my opinion, the shorter the commute the better!
Is the company culture stiff and uptight, jeans and a t-shirt, or somewhere in between? Do people hang out together after work, have frequent happy hours, or participate in intramural sports teams, or is it primarily a culture of “go to work, go home, repeat?” Other factors to consider: company organization, corporate structure, dress code (I know people who refuse to wear a suit and tie everyday!), etc.
It’s important to understand how you will fit in with the rest of the company culture. You don’t have to be just like everyone else, but it is nice to feel that, for the most part, you are in your element.
Are you required or expected to travel? How far and how often? Personally, I don’t mind the occasional business trip, but I wouldn’t like being on the road every other week, or for an extended period of time.
Benefits and Perks
I will separate benefits from salary, even though they are closely related. One of the most important factors to consider is whether the health care package meets your needs. Other important benefits: 401(k) plan, pension plan, vacation time, sick time, disability, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, sponsored day care, etc.
Salary / Compensation
Compensation covers a lot of factors; the salary you earn as direct compensation is only part of it. You also need to consider factors such as a commissions, bonuses, stock options, and projected salary increases.
Choose What is Best for Your Situation
Accepting a job offer is about more than just accepting a salary. There are many other factors that are just as important, if not more important, than the final number on your paycheck. In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your situation – even if that means leaving salary or other compensation on the table. If you dread going to work each day, you will be miserable, and that isn’t worth any price.
Comparing Two Job Offers – A Personal Example from My Career
In the previous section, we looked at 10 factors to consider when comparing offers. There can easily be many more than that depending on your situation. To make the comparisons in this section easier, I combined a few related factors together.
Evaluating the Job Offers
Job Position & Professional Opportunity. Both positions represent a great professional opportunity for me. The main reason I was looking for a new job was because I felt I had stagnated in my role with my current company and there was no room for me to grow in the direction I wanted. These new job offers represent a nice promotion in terms of scope responsibility. The job offers are fairly similar to each other and I know that whichever offer I choose, I will have plenty of opportunity for future growth.
Commute and Travel Requirements. The commute for both companies is very reasonable. Each is within a 30 minute drive, which isn’t too long and won’t cost too much for fuel. The travel requirements for both companies are practically nil. So neither of these issues will have much bearing on my decision. However, they could have if the commute was very long or if the position required too much travel.
Work / Life Balance. There is an important difference between the two companies. Company A has a rigid 8-5 work schedule with an hour lunch break, while Company B has a 40 hour per week requirement. The hours for Company B are stated as 8-5, but they don’t mind if you come in an hour early, stay an hour late, or take a few hours personal time – as long as you work the required 40 hours per week. There is also the ability to work from home for a few hours from time to time (for instance, if I had a plumber coming by and had to be home).
Salary, Compensation, and Benefits. Both jobs have similar health care plans. I will end up paying a little more than I am with my current job, but based on the professional opportunity and the potential pay raise I will receive, it will be well worth it. Both companies also offer tuition reimbursement, which is something my current company does not offer. The 401(k) plans for each employer offer the same company match, but the funds they offer are different. Vacation time and sick time plans are the same in terms of number of days, but one company separates the two, the other company places them in one pot of days off.
Here is where the offers differ:
Job Offer A. The most attractive part of this job offer is a 40% bump from my current salary. The tuition assistance this company offers is $5,250 per year.
Job Offer B. The salary for this job offer comes in at right about 32% higher than my current salary. Company B offers $10,000 tuition assistance per year, although anything above $5,250 is subject to income taxes (Federal law). Company B also has a pension plan in which I would contribute 3% of my post tax income, and would receive a 1.5% match.
Company Culture and Health. Here, the two companies vary substantially. Both companies are financially healthy and well-respected, but the culture between the two is very different.
Job Offer A. Company A requires a suit and tie M-Th, and has “casual Fridays,” when employees can wear polo shirts or button down dress shirts without a tie. Slacks (not jeans) are required on casual Fridays. The dress code is more formal because it is in a client facing environment nearly every day. The company’s reporting structure is very hierarchal and formal.
Job Offer B. Company B’s dress code is slacks or khakis and a polo or dress shirt; no tie required. There are some days when a tie and jacket may be required, but I hear they are rare and only if you are meeting with clients. Jeans are allowed on Fridays. The company structure is more team based and not nearly as formal.
To sum it up
Both companies offer a great professional opportunity, room for growth and promotion, reasonable commute and minimal travel requirements, good health care benefits, similar 401(k) plans, and the same number of days off.
The main differences are these:
Company A: 40% pay raise, $5,250 tuition reimbursement, formal company structure, formal business attire, rigid 8-5 schedule
Company B: 32% pay raise, $10,000 tuition reimbursement, informal company structure, business casual attire, flexible schedule, pension plan
No decision yet, but I’m leaning toward one company. I haven’t accepted either offer at this point, but I have until Friday to sign and fax the acceptance letter. I will make the decision with my wife, but we are both leaning toward one offer more than the other. If you know me, I bet you can guess which one I will choose. 😉
Accepting the Job Offer
My wife and I discussed the job offers at length, and while I think the positions both have a lot of potential, I accepted Company B’s offer. Even though the salary offer from Company A was larger than Company B, I chose the second job offer because quality of life is more important than money to my wife and I.
My previous job required me to wear a suit and tie every day, and while I don’t mind wearing business attire, business casual is more comfortable and less expensive to maintain. I also like the idea of having more freedom with my work schedule. I think this will be extremely important if my wife and I have children in the near future.
I contacted my interviewers and hiring manager last week by telephone and let them know I was accepting the job offer. I also signed and faxed the acceptance letter to the HR department. The only thing I wish I could have changed was my start date. My new employer was in the middle of a project and they needed me to start right away.
I would have loved to use some of my vacation days with my old employer and take some time off. I also wouldn’t mind taking a week or two off between jobs, just to take a breather and catch up with some chores around the house. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
I won’t complain though! I am excited about this opportunity, and I look forward to working with a new group of people and in a new environment. 🙂
Your tips… Do you have any tips for evaluating a job offer, or are there things that are more important to you when you decide between jobs? I’m interested in reading them – I have a decision to make very shortly! Feel free to leave a comment! 🙂
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[email protected] and Money says
Very helpful article. I used to work as a recruiter and even in tough times I still think it’s important that you derive some job satisfaction from your work. Opting for a job because you need to pay the bills is admirable, but you should still keep looking to find a better match to your skills and abilities 🙂
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