Checklist for Evaluating a Job Offer

Assessing the Whole Compensation Package

man at computer
•••  Matthew Henry/

What's the best way to decide on whether to take a job offer? It's important to consider more than your paycheck. 

When reviewing a job offer, consider the entire package, including job content, salary, benefits, hours, flexibility, pension plans and the work environment. If you're reviewing multiple offers and trying to decide which one to take, evaluate them both and compare to see which comes out ahead.

Make sure the job itself is a good fit for what you're looking for in your next position. Does the company fit your idea of what an ideal employer would be, or at least come close?

Review this checklist to ensure that you weigh all the options prior to making a decision to accept a position. Then review what you should consider before accepting a job offer.

Job Offer Checklist

1. Salary (base salary, commission, bonuses, projected salary increases): You're thrilled to get a job offer in the moment, but seriously consider the compensation before accepting. You'll need to be satisfied with the salary for at least a year, as you won't get a raise before then. Come armed to negotiate the offer, based on your research of market rates rather than a pie in the sky number you'd like to get.

2. Benefits and perks (vacation, sick time, health insurance, life insurance, 401(K), pension plans, stock options): Evaluate the company's benefits and perks in addition to salary, because a good package can make up for a lesser salary if you're saving substantial money on health care and have a large amount of vacation time, a company-provided car or a flexible schedule.

On the flip side, consider how much a poor benefits package can cost you; paying a lot out-of-pocket for high premiums, deductibles and co-pays can take a big chunk out of your salary.

3. Hidden costs: Is there day care on site or will you need to pay childcare for your own? What will your commute be like?

Do you need to buy more professional or expensive clothes? Do you get a corporate account for meeting clients or will you need to network with them on your own dime? What initially seems like a salary increase may cause your take-home pay to take a tumble if you have other expenses you didn't count on.

4. Work environment: Do you know exactly how you'll spend your time on a day to day basis? Don't get distracted looking at the trappings of salary and benefits only to lose touch with the fact that the job may not match what you actually want to be doing. Ask yourself if this job excites you, if you think you'll excel at it and whether it will advance you on your career path. While you might not be in a position to turn down a job, thinking clearly about these questions will let you know what to expect. 

5. Pros and cons: Make a list of the pros and cons of your current position (if you have one) and the job offer you are considering. Which one comes out ahead? If one outweighs the other, your decision making will be easier. If you're adding another offer to the mix, list its pros and cons as well. 

6.  Your personal circumstances: What does your gut tell you? Do you feel ready to show up bright and early on Monday or do you have a queasy sense that this may not be the right job for you?

Listen to your inner voice. Our instincts are usually right, even if we can't come up with a concrete, rational explanation for them.