There’s a certain thrill in receiving a job offer. You feel wanted. You feel needed. You know that your skills are appreciated and that all your hard work and long hours have been validated. But even if the company is exploding, even if the title sounds incredibly impressive, and yes, even if the money is almost too good to be true, you need to take a step back and review your situation before you accept.
The best way to do this is to make a checklist and use it to evaluate each offer. Write down all of the criteria (compensation, benefits, skills, etc.) that matter to you, and arrange them in descending order from most to least important. If money is your prime motivator, start with comp.
If the company is exploding, even if the title to impressive and the money is great, you need to step back and review.
If your skill set is getting rusty, put it up top. The process itself is a very uncomplicated one, but it’s one that few job seekers take the time to do correctly. As a result, many hires find that their new situation is just as unfavorable as their old one, if not more so. Prevent yourself from pulling the trigger too quickly by mapping out your needs and giving them a thorough examination.
Seven Must-Haves for Your Job Offer Checklist
Your job offer checklist should contain every (yes, every) aspect of compensation, including skills and certain intangibles like working environment and whether or not your boss will drive you absolutely nuts. The length of your list is ultimately up to you, but at the very least it should contain the following:
1. Direct compensation
Base salary plus bonus. It doesn’t get any easier than this.
2. Additional monetary compensation
Equity, commission, or performance-based bonuses outside or instead of the expected annual bonus.
3. Healthcare benefits
Medical, dental, vision. The whole nine yards. And no, it’s not considered rude or presumptuous to request the details of an employer’s insurance plan while considering an offer. It’s a huge part of your comp, so you need to know if the policy stinks or not. They might not send you the policy, but they’ll give you the general idea. If the hiring manager or HR representative is cagey about this, don’t accept. That’s a clear indicator of company culture and a major red flag.
4. Time off policy
Sick days plus personal days plus vacation. This is usually very negotiable, particularly at more senior levels.
5. Will you learn something new and marketable in the role?
Think about the job after this job. Will what you learn in this role help propel you to the next one, or will it be another dead end?
6. Company culture
Does it seem like a place you can actually work? Is it a corporate sinkhole with putty-colored cubicles and legions of dead-eyed employees spacing out at their monitors? Or is it a basement garage staffed by flip flop-wearing brogrammers burning through their funding on takeout and branding consultants? Whatever the situation may be, figure out if this is a place where you can show up day after day and do your best work. If you need more time to observe, ask for it. It’s not an unusual request.
7. Your new boss
As we’ve pointed out, if you can’t see eye-to-eye with your new boss, or even if you just suspect that he or she isn’t buying what you’re selling, it might be time to bail out. This is the person with whom you’ll be working with the closest, so the two of you had better be able to get on the same page.
Other Items to Consider
These won’t apply to everyone, but use them as points of inspiration for what matters to you.
- Length of commute
- Transit assistance
- Length of maternity leave
- Ability to work remotely
- Amount of travel required
Your list might be nine items long. It might be 12. It might be 20. Whatever its length, take the time to fill in all the boxes before accepting an offer. This is especially crucial if you’re leaving a position to a take a new one, or if you’re juggling competing offers.
When an offer comes in, everything looks rosy. But before you rush into an ill-advised relationship, take a moment and cool down. Break down the particulars and examine them in detail. It might rub some of the shine off the offer, but it’ll keep you from making a decision you’ll regret.
You’ve made your checklist, but some things don’t quite add up. We’ll teach you how to negotiate benefits to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
28 Days to a New Job is a month-long Hired Guns course designed to help you maximize your competitiveness in the current job market. Learn the secrets to getting a job from hiring managers, recruiters, negotiation experts and more. Read our our introductory post here. Or Subscribe Now to receive 28 Days to a New Job as a daily email.