How To Evaluate A Job Offer In 6 Steps

by | Finding A Job

Receiving an employment offer can feel exciting, and it’s an occasion that calls for celebration, but before you get too caught up in the emotions, it’s important to carefully evaluate the opportunity.

How do you decide whether you should accept an offer, and can you lose it if you try to negotiate? In this article, I share important steps to take when evaluating a job offer.

6 Steps To Evaluate A Job Offer

Evaluating a potential offer is a multi-step process. Once you’ve received the offer in writing and understand the total compensation package, you want to conduct your due diligence on your prospective employer and confirm that the role aligns with your initial job search priorities. Then, you want to really envision yourself in the role and run the offer by a trusted expert.

Let’s break each of these steps down further:

1. Get the offer in writing.

Be wary if a company is apprehensive about providing you with the offer in writing. An employment offer is not the kind of situation where you want to take someone at their word.

Consequently, the first and most important step in effectively evaluating a job opportunity is to get the offer in writing, as well as documentation of any incentives advertised during the interview process, such as a sign-on bonus, performance bonuses, or company stock.

If the company is unwilling to back up their promise in writing, it’s safe to assume the offer won’t be realized. Ensuring you receive your job offer and all the additional details in writing is one way to avoid online job scams. At the bare minimum, it should include:

  • Job title and description
  • Salary, compensation, benefits, and terms
  • Work schedule and location
  • Management structure
  • Employment start date
  • Any contingencies (for example, contingent on a background check, reference check, proof of employment to work in the U.S., etc.)

If you’re currently employed, it’s also critical that you receive a final offer and start date before providing your current employer with your resignation. The last thing you want to do is give your current employer notice and then later attempt to get your job back because the offer fails to go through.

2. Understand the total compensation.

Next, you want to understand the total compensation being offered by the company. While companies usually offer a base salary, there are often additional perks extended to you if you’re a W2 employee.

Benefits like healthcare insurance, stocks, and bonuses can make up a significant portion of your total package and make or break an offer.

These additional types of compensation can often be one of the deciding factors when choosing between multiple job offers, as they can equate to tens of thousands of dollars in additional annual compensation.

3. Research your prospective employer.

You also want to perform due diligence on your prospective employer before signing on the dotted line. You can begin with the company’s website, social platforms, and recent news, as well as their Glassdoor reviews.

Also check to see if the company is on the community review platform Team Blind, as they require users to confirm they work at an employer before commenting, in order to avoid fake reviews.

Additionally, you can reach out to current and former employees via LinkedIn to learn more about their time at the company. If you’re a member of an intentionally ignored community (shoutout to Dr. Akilah Cadet for this language), try to speak with fellow members of your community to learn about their experiences with the organization.

4. Reflect on your initial priorities.

As you evaluate the job offer and decide whether you want to accept or reject it, consider how it aligns with the priorities and criteria you originally set when deciding to look for a job, such as:

  • Location and work conditions
  • Company profile
  • Job title and responsibilities

While not all job seekers have the luxury of turning down an offer, particularly when they’re unemployed, it’s still worth reviewing the goals you initially set for your job search and seeing how this opportunity lines up.

5. Envision the future—with and without this job.

Now, take a moment to envision yourself accepting this offer. How do you feel about the picture you paint in your head? Does this role align with your personal definition of meaningful work?

What other questions do you need to ask yourself that would make accepting this offer a “heck yes” or “heck no”? Is there any additional information you need to gather to make an informed decision before accepting or declining the offer?

Then, take a moment to envision yourself rejecting the offer. What feelings come up for you? Are you upset? Relieved? Indifferent? Spend some time really weighing your options and reflecting on what your future would be like with—and without—this job.

6. Run the job offer by an expert.

Another important step you want to take in evaluating the offer is to run it by someone you trust who is experienced in reviewing employment offers, such as a mentor in the industry, an employment attorney, or a career coach.

This step is particularly important if the job offer feels too good to be true. The recent layoffs have unfortunately led to an increase in online scammers who are preying on people who are unemployed or underemployed.

Tip: If an employment offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Again, get all promises made by a prospective employer in writing.

Should You Accept The First Job Offer You Receive?

Many sources claim that you should never accept the first job offer you receive from an employer, as you’ll be missing out on additional compensation. While these experts presumably have your best intentions in mind, it sometimes makes sense to accept the first offer, particularly if it meets all your requirements.

For instance, if you provided your salary expectations to a prospective employer, and their initial offer meets or exceeds them, you’ll want to think twice before negotiating, since doing so can make you come off as greedy.

Can You Lose A Job Offer By Negotiating?

Now, can you lose a job offer as a result of negotiating? Yes, you can technically lose a job offer by negotiating the salary, yet it’s incredibly unlikely if you remain professional and polite throughout the process. That said, if you do choose to negotiate your offer, be sure to lead with market research and respond within the timeframe requested.

Is It Unprofessional To Reject A Job Offer?

Please don’t ghost your recruiter if you’re unable to reach a mutually agreeable salary number or receive a better offer from another company. Rejecting an offer is not considered unprofessional, since recruiters and hiring managers expect a percentage of job offers to be rejected by candidates. That said, you want to keep them updated throughout your process.

And while it may tempting to secure multiple job offers to secure the best total compensation package possible, try not to string a prospective employer along if you know you won’t accept their offer.

How Do I Decline A Job Without Burning Bridges?

Speaking of which, you want to be mindful before burning bridges in your job search, as you never know who may cross your path in the future. The best way to keep the relationship alive is to notify the recruiter as soon as possible that you’ll be declining the opportunity.

Conclusion: How To Evaluate A Job Offer

To summarize, before deciding on a job offer:

  • Make sure you get it in writing and understand the total compensation.
  • Be sure to conduct your due diligence on the company and its culture.
  • Take time to reflect on the priorities you set at the beginning of your search, then see if you can envision a future in this role and at the company.
  • Don’t forget to run the offer by an industry expert.

Oh, and of course, whether you decide to accept or reject the job offer, be sure to take a moment to celebrate landing the job in the first place. You’ve got this!

A version of this article first appeared on the Career Tool Belt blog with the title, “How To Evaluate a Job Offer.”

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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