How to Ensure you were Given an Appropriate Offer
You’ve dumped buckets of overpriced toner on resumes, you’ve clocked in more interview rounds than a professional boxing match, and now—finally—a potential employer has seen your worth and offered you a job. The hard work is finally over, right? Not quite.
While the offer will certainly provide a nice boost of confidence, it might not be right for you. And with job-hopping becoming the new norm, it's crucial to garner the skills necessary to evaluate job offers. How can you tell if an offer is right for you? Let’s find out.
Prep It Up
The best time to start thinking about the job offer is before it is made, preferably even before the first interview. That way you’ll be prepared and won’t feel pressured by a ticking clock. As a bonus, you’ll also know what questions to ask your potential employer, which will only ensure them they made the right choice in you.
An offer should contain a wage that will pay your bills, will make you feel valued as an employee, and is appropriate given your education and experience. But how do you put a value on, well, you?
Good places to start answering that question are the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and your state’s employment department website. These sites provide information on hundreds of professions, including demand, stability, potential growth, and required education. They also give mean hourly and annual wages, as well as compensation ranges (usually listing the 25th and 75th percentiles along with the median).
The bureau’s site tends to headline national numbers, but you can find state-by-state statistics there, too. State employment websites, however, will break down the information on a local level, providing information by county and individual metropolitan areas. This breakdown can be handy since an appropriate pay range for a major city will differ greatly from a rural area, even for the same profession.
You can use both websites to help determine what an appropriate offer will look like. For example, if you have years of experience, now may be the time to negotiate for a salary that is higher than the median. Conversely, if you’re fresh out of school, you may want to settle for an offer lower than the average, netting yourself experience in your field. Of course, if you can’t pay your bills, then no resume booster is worth it.
It’s Not All About the Dollar Bills
Compensation is important, but it’s not the only consideration. You should also examine the job’s benefits and perks. Perhaps the employer is offering a less than ideal salary but provides stock options, performance bonuses, or Cadillac health insurance. Be sure to weigh these against your desired salary range to see if they offset a reduction in pure earnings. Don’t forget vacation time, sick leave, and disability. Don’t know the specifics of the benefits offered? Ask!
You should also meditate on the job’s more intangible qualities. Is your potential employer requesting 50 hours per week plus a three-hour commute in gridlock traffic? Then you may want to seek an offer on the higher end so you can invest in your audiobook collection. Does your schedule require flexibility, or do you need to live in a smaller community to be happy and support your lifestyle? You may need to sacrifice your earning potential to reach a desirable life-work balance.
As you can see, whether a job offer is appropriate or not is a very personal decision. Monetary compensation is important, but so is life outside of work. As such, the only magic number that must be met before the handshake is the one that pays the bills. Beyond that, you’ll have to do some research and soul-searching to recognize your personal circumstances before you can judge if an offer is appropriate for you.