After a long and hard job search, you’ve gotten yourself a job offer. Do you know if it’s a good one? Should you accept it? Should you negotiate for a better offer? How should you try and get a better deal?
Deciding to accept a job can be a big decision, and evaluating offers are never easy. In this article, we’ll go through:
- Why the job acceptance stage can be one of the most important phases in any job
- How to properly assess any job offer
- Tips to negotiate for a better deal
When an employer extends a job offer to you, they have essentially, “fallen in love with you,” says John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of The Success Code. At the job offer stage, the employer has psychologically committed to you, and statistically your leverage to tailor your job description, increase your salary and improve your benefits is strongest at the job offer stage than at any point in your first two years of employment at that role.
How to Make a Balanced Evaluation of Your Job Offer
Evaluating a job offer is not simple and should be done carefully. Assess the offer from your perspective, and in an overall manner. Besides the headliner metrics like salary, job title and responsibilities, you should also consider aspects that will contribute to your overall happiness and job satisfaction. There is no perfect job offer – but with an honest assessment and negotiating the right aspects, you can tweak any job offer to better suit your needs.
Below are the main aspects that you should be evaluating when assessing any job offer:
- Consider all compensation. Even when you think the offered salary is adequate, is it the market rate considering your qualifications? Compensation packages these days are often multi-faceted – base salary, bonus packages, share award schemes, pensions all contribute to the monetary aspect of any job offer.
- What is the market rate? Always benchmark the compensation of a job offer to know where you stand. To find more salary data, databases like Glassdoor and Salary.com are a good starting point – we have also conducted a study into expected salary levels for CFA candidates.
- Negotiate well and have a backup. If you plan to negotiate on salary, have a strong reason (or set of reasons) why you should be offered a higher package. You should also have a backup plan – assess what other aspects of the job (such as an increase in benefits) to negotiate for if the money turns out to be non-negotiable.
The Job Scope
- Management responsibilities. Would you prefer to be leading a big team, a few people, or none at all? There are usually three aspects to this, and it’s important that you assess them honestly:
- Development: do you want to build management skills?
- Ego: Does having a large team make you feel better about your job?
- Personality: Do you naturally enjoy managing and interacting with people, or would you prefer to minimize that as much as possible?
- Travel requirements. What degree of travelling would the job require, and does that fit into your current and future plans?
- Team interaction. Depending on your personality, do you prefer to work in large teams, smaller teams, or with as few people as possible?
- Client-facing time. Do you want to be client-facing to develop your relationship management skills and improve your professional network, or would you rather free up valuable time to focus on developing your core professional skills?
- Skill development. While you’ll almost always learn something new in any role, you should consider whether the development opportunities offered is in sync with your long-term plans. For example, if you have extensive experience and skills in research and want to spend more time developing your presentation and communication skills, you might prefer a role with more opportunities to face internal or external clients.
- Long-term goals. Is the job setting you up in the right direction in your long-term career path? If the roles you’re considering aren’t quite yet in your ideal industry, prioritise the ones that are at least another step in the right direction. If you’re looking to build management skills, you might choose a role with team members reporting to you, even if the other roles offer better perks or better pay.
- Will I be happy here? You’ll also need to make a judgement on whether you’d enjoy working there. It’s challenging to know for sure without actually spending proper time there, but to get a better idea, reach out to your contacts and LinkedIn network. Ask them about their opinion of the firm, how long do people tend to stay, or what happened to the last person who did the job. For larger companies, Glassdoor also provides pretty comprehensive employee reviews of their workplace culture.
Quality of Life
- Vacation and work flexibility. Vacation time and the ability to work flexible hours are an increasingly valuable perk. If flexible work hours is high up on your priority list and not explicitly given in your work contract, it is a good idea to raise this in the negotiation stage.
- Commuting perks. Consider bicycle schemes, train ticket perks, company cars or any other travel-related perk and how that would fit into your work commuting plan.
- One of the strongest factors of happiness – and unhappiness – at work is related to who you work for. “Here’s something they’ll probably never teach you in business school,” wrote Gallup CEO Jim Clifton in the summary accompanying his organization’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” employee engagement study. “The single biggest decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing.”
Principles to Remember When Negotiating
- Think about what you want out of your job and use that as a framework to determine the elements of the offer you would like to alter.
- Be selective about what you push back on. Prioritize the requests that are important to you, and identify which requests the company would be more likely to concede on.
- Employ classic negotiation techniques by maximizing the cost of the things you are prepared to accept and minimizing the things you seek.
- Be critical or suspicious when questioning something about the offer.
- Neglect to consider your walkaway alternatives.
- Ignore red flags. If your instincts and due diligence tells you that you should not take the job, listen.
Negotiating at the job offer stage can yield benefits for many years to come. If you have any questions, drop it in the comments below!