Considering a Job Offer? How to Know if It’s Right for You

In the challenge to find the right job and salary for every phase of your life, it’s easy to jump on a job offer without taking time to consider whether or not it’s really right for you. It’s important to take a moment (or 24 hours) to consider the offer before you accept it. No matter how nice it might feel to be done with the job hunt, you’ll only be back to it quickly if you accept a job that’s not the best fit for you.

The bottom line of an offer is rarely just the salary. To make sure you give the offer a comprehensive evaluation, there are two ways you should approach a job offer. The first is with the facts of the offer and the second is with the art and instinct of the interview process. Here’s how to make sure it’s the right offer for you.

Dissect the Facts of the Offer

First, take a look at the hard details of the position. Consider both your experience in the industry as well as your research based on the company’s listed salary ranges, openings and history via the Simply Hired Now Hiring feature. Use this data to take the following steps:

  • Assess and negotiate the salary. No matter what the offer, prepare yourself to negotiate the salary. You can wait a year for a 3 percent bump or negotiate that bump from the get-go and be a year ahead of the curve. If you can’t make any headway with a salary increase—after all, some operating budgets are set in stone—ask about signing bonuses or retention bonuses, which often come out of a different budget than regular salaries.
  • Compare the title. Compare the title with other companies and with what is normal for your industry. If you’re considering a trendy title like “Social Media Cat Herder,” or “Chief Happiness Officer,” it could indicate something about the general attitude and approach of the company (for better or worse). Also consider how the title could represent more seniority. If your experience warrants it, request a no-cost upgrade like “Senior” or “Lead.”
  • Closely evaluate your benefits. The kinds of benefits a company offers can speak volumes about its priorities. Keep in mind that benefits come out of a company’s overhead, which comes out of your paycheck. Truly amazing benefits might sometimes lead companies to cut salaries below market to even out the cost. On the other hand, companies with bare bones benefits might indicate an executive team that’s out of touch with the needs of its workers.

I used two of these tactics to negotiate a new position with a marketing startup several years ago. After asking a significant number of questions about the position and the role within the company, it became clear that I would be the only person behind the marketing strategies of several large brands.

Though the executive team couldn’t budge on the salary, I was able to negotiate a title that included the word “Senior,” as well as a modest signing bonus in exchange for a 1-year contract with the company. If I hadn’t decided to evaluate the position and comparable jobs in the area, I might have missed out on a few thousand dollars and a more desirable title on my resume.

If all of these features align to make a good opportunity, move on to the next step of evaluating your gut instincts about the company and the position.

Tease Out Your Instincts behind the Offer

With all of the resources available to job seekers today, analyzing the facts has become the easy part of evaluating a job offer. The hard part is quieting your analytical mind to figure out what your gut is telling you about the opportunity. Here are four questions you need to ask yourself before you say “Yes.”

  • Consider the timeline. The speed at which the HR manager moves can speak volumes about how a company operates. Did the first few rounds of the interview and the offer come around very quickly? A blinding timeline might indicate that the company is scrambling to cover a replacement that didn’t give two-week notice. This may be a one-off challenge for the HR team, but it also may indicate a general attitude that team members are replaceable.
  • Reflect on how the people made you feel. Without remembering specific conversations, what’s your first impression about the company representatives you’ve interviewed with? Were they timely on their calls or late every time? Did they take time to get to know you, or did they mostly talk about themselves and the company? If your interviews were onsite, how well taken care of was the office environment? Did the people you passed in the halls or lunchroom look energized or a little unhappy to be there? You’ve soaked in all of these details, so make sure you reflect on them to build your overall impression.
  • Evaluate the 1-year and 5-year potential for growth of this position. Smart career moves leave the door open for advancement, even when you’re satisfied with your workload and responsibilities. You may not want a promotion now, but what if you change your mind in a few months and find yourself stuck in your new job? Evaluate the potential for growth over the next few years to make sure you have a way out if you want to have one.
  • Consider the 5-year and 10-year potential for growth of this company and industry. Are you teaming with an established company in an industry that’s dying out, or maybe an unproven startup in an industry that is taking off? Have you been reading headlines about how this industry is on its way out or its way up? And what are the transferable skills you can learn on this job in case you find yourself laid off, outsourced or otherwise unemployed? You may not have the responsibility of charting a new course for a company or industry, but your career depends on making strategic decisions about which skills to develop and which to leave behind.

The final questions on this list have been very powerful to me as a writer. Instead of targeting traditional writing industries such as publishing and journalism, I saw early on that these forms of communication were going through rapid and tremendous change. Rather than fight my way into an actively shifting and competitive industry, I tried to look ahead to where the future was headed for the published word. For me, that led to a fulfilling path in digital marketing and blogging, two skills that have a lot in common with traditional print media but are worlds apart in terms of long-term sustainability.

Excited? You should be. But don’t let your excitement lead you to overlook important facts and feelings that come with the job offer. Evaluate the tangible and intangible facts about the job offer to make sure you’re making the best decision for your career.