Evaluating Job Offers

Congratulations! You got the job! Now you must decide whether the offer from your new employer measures up with what you and your family need. Whether you’re the type to draft a pro/con list, or you seek the advice of friends and family, everyone needs a method by which to critically examine a job offer.

Evaluating job offers is an important step in the job search process, and allows you to really look hard at the overall salary, including benefits, that a company offers. Sometimes the “perks” of a job might outweigh a lower salary, and vice versa. Here, we outline a few things you should focus on while you’re evaluating the offer:

  • Earnings. The most obvious factor is the overall salary or per-hour wage that an employer offers, so consider this carefully. If you decide to negotiate this number, read our guide to negotiations to get some tips on how best to handle the conversation.
  • Health, vision and dental insurance. Insurance for health-related costs is highly coveted in today’s society, so it’s important to take a close look at the terms of any plan offered. Some employers will pay 100 percent for the employee, but adding your family will cost a significant amount more. Make sure you crunch the numbers against your take-home pay to make sure you’re getting the best possible coverage. Dental and vision insurance usually can be added to a health plan for a small amount, and if you have a family who wears glasses or needs dental work, this might be an important factor in your decision.
  • Tuition assistance. Do you have plans to further your education, receive an advanced degree or gain additional certifications? Then this particular benefit can be enticing. Some employers see this as an investment in both the employee and the company’s bottom line.
  • Relocation assistance. If a job will take you across the country or require a move, this might be an important benefit to consider, as some employers will offer to pay your moving costs or reimburse a portion of them.
  • 401(K) or retirement contributions. Some employers offer contributions to retirement plans, and many use this as a way to reward employees who choose to contribute to their organization over time. These contributions are made solely by the employee (and the employee chooses the amount they would like to contribute) or they are matched by the employer (likely this will be up to a certain percentage). For example, if a company matches up to 3 percent of an employee’s contribution, the employee can be putting away 6 percent of their income toward retirement (but only contributing 3 percent). This is a big draw for employees who are looking at a benefits package as a whole. In most companies, however, you must stay in a position for a certain number of years to become vested – that is, the money the employer has contributed will not be yours until a certain amount of time has passed (your contributions, however, will remain yours).
  • Stock or equity. Some companies offer employees an opportunity for ownership in the organization through stock options, or in some cases, a percentage of ownership in the company.
  • Other benefits. A few employers offer a number of benefits that are considered ancillary, such as discounts to local businesses and retailers, a gym membership, transportation or parking allowances and more.

It’s important for all job seekers to fully understand and consider a job offer in its entirety before making a decision on whether to accept a position and salary. There may be some instances where the overall compensation package is worth well over the salary range you had in mind, offering benefits that are unique to the organization and can sweeten the deal. This is also a decision that should be made with your family’s needs in mind.