When an employer extends you a job offer, they’ve pretty much ‘fallen in love with you,’ says John Lees, one of the UK’s best-known career strategists and the author of The Success Code. You see, out of all the applicants they interviewed, you’re the one who impressed them the most. You’re the one who ticked all the right boxes.
You’re the one they chose.
And that, one would argue, gives you some precious leverage when it comes to evaluating (and negotiating) a job offer. This is the perfect opportunity to improve your base salary and additional benefits like remote working and paid leave, as well as the specific terms of your employment.
So, how exactly do you evaluate a new job offer? How do you decide whether the offer you’ve been made is right for you?
Get all the information you need right here!
Whether you’ve just got your first ever job offer (yay for you!) or just need some guidance on whether you should accept or reject an offer, we’ve got you covered.
First things first:
- Say ‘thank you’. As I mentioned earlier, the employer chose to offer the job to you. So, showing a little gratitude goes a long way here – even if you’re not too excited about the opportunity or you’re uncertain it’s the right company for you.
- Do your research. Find out your market value by checking salary review sites like Glassdoor and PayScale to see what other professionals in similar positions and in your geographical location are earning. Arming yourself with this information will help you make a better case when it’s time to negotiate salary and other benefits. (On a side note, you should look into how much you’re worth before your interview.)
- Get answers. If there are any questions you forgot to ask during the interview, now is the perfect time to do so. Arm yourself with as much information as possible about the opportunity – this will help you build a strong case if you need to do any negotiating down the line. It also helps you know what you’re getting into and whether the job and the company are a good fit.
- Ask for time to think over the offer. Don’t rush into accepting or rejecting an offer without giving it much thought. Take your time, but don’t take too long – the employer won’t wait around forever! And whatever you do, don’t let the employer push you into making a decision on the spot!
- List the pros and cons. Drawing up a list of all the awesome and not-so-awesome things about the job minimises the likelihood of missing any critical factors when ultimately weighing your decision. That and, also, I like to think that lists are fun.
Evaluating a job offer
Here’s a rundown of all the things you should consider, and the questions you need to ask yourself, when evaluating a job offer:
- Salary. Is the salary within your desired range? Is it more? Nowhere near? Is the pay equal to your skills and qualifications? How often are salary reviews conducted?
- The job itself. What are the specific job responsibilities? Are you going to enjoy the day-to-day duties of the role? Will you be challenged? Are you being given enough responsibility? What is the history of the position? What happened to your predecessor?
- Bonuses. Will you get a sign-on bonus? Does the company provide performance-based bonuses?
- Insurance, health and wellness. What medical, dental and life insurance is offered? How much does it cost?
- Pension schemes. What contributions will the company make?
- Profit sharing and stock options. Is there a plan in place to give employees a share of the company’s profits or stocks?
- Relocation assistance. If you have to move for the job, whether to a different city or abroad, will the company pay for your expenses in part or in full? What is the cost of living there? Will you be able to afford it? Will temporary accommodation be provided?
- Childcare assistance/reimbursement. Will the company offer free or subsidised childcare?
- Work environment. Do the company’s values match your own? What sort of atmosphere is there in the workplace? What do you think of your prospective co-workers and supervisors? Can you see yourself hanging out with them after work? Do you feel you will be welcomed in the organisation?
- Professional development. Are there any career advancement opportunities in the company? Do they provide additional development and training?
- Travel requirements. Will your commute be longer? Will this require more petrol or taking the bus or train to work? How much will that cost? Will you have to travel for work? Will you be reimbursed for travel expenses, including transport, accommodation and meals?
- Working hours. What will your working hours be like? Are you allowed more flexibility with your start and finish times? Will you be paid for overtime?
- Paid leave, sick leave and personal days. Does the company offer more leave than the statutory minimum, including for maternity/paternity/adoption leave? How much? Will you be entitled to it right away or will you have to work for the company for a certain amount of time before you become eligible? Are there any vacation blackout dates (for example, over Christmas)?
- Remote working. Will the company let you work from home some days? Every day? Will they provide you with the appropriate equipment or reimburse you for expenses (for example, your internet connection)?
- Other perks. Does the company offer benefits such as free or subsidised gym membership, a company car/phone/laptop, cycle-to-work schemes, tuition reimbursements or free lunches?
- Personal circumstances. Does the job meet your personal and financial needs and those of your family?
Evaluating multiple job offers
First things first: look at you! You didn’t just get one but two (or more!) job offers! You’re obviously in high demand – and there’s nothing wrong with letting both companies know you’re considering other offers. Beware, though: trying to pit the companies against each other in some sort of bidding war can backfire!
If you’re evaluating multiple job offers, go back to the personal criteria you set for choosing a particular job or employer. How many boxes does each company tick? Remember that the important thing here is choosing the job that, in addition to offering you a decent salary and awesome perks, will make you happy and provide you with professional growth opportunities. Don’t strictly base your decision on the salary: you should accept a job offer because you want to work at the particular company, not because they’re paying the most money.
Also, don’t take too long to make up your mind, as both companies may grow tired of waiting and decide to hire someone else instead – leaving you with no job offers at all.
Negotiating a job offer
If you feel the job and the employer are a good fit but the offer isn’t quite what you had hoped for, consider proposing a counteroffer. Make sure you have a valid reason for negotiating a higher salary or additional benefits – don’t negotiate just for the sake of negotiating!
It’s important to understand that every situation is different. An employer may not be willing – or able – to offer you your dream salary, especially if they’re a smaller sized business. Decide on the lowest number you’re willing to accept, and if the company can’t offer you the salary you want or compensate you with additional benefits, then don’t push it. Politely decline the offer and walk away.
Accepting a job offer
If the job ticks all your boxes, then there’s really no point waiting to accept the offer any longer.
Even if you accepted the job verbally, sending a job acceptance letter is a great way to formally confirm the new position. It also helps you avoid any confusion about the precise terms of the offer, as well as express your gratitude and enthusiasm for the opportunity you’ve been given.
Your letter should include the following:
- Appreciation for the job opportunity
- Written acceptance of the job
- Reiteration of the terms of employment (including job title, salary and benefits)
- The starting date of employment
Remember to keep it brief – you don’t need to include every little detail you agreed. Also, be sure to proofread and edit your letter for grammar and typos – don’t give employers a reason to regret extending you the offer in the first place!
On a final note, never – ever – accept a job through an SMS or social media! Always do it via email or a good old-fashioned letter.
Rejecting a job offer
If you’ve decided to reject a job offer – whether because you received another (and better) offer elsewhere or all the signs say you should do a 180 – remember to do so with tact and diplomacy in a polite and professional email. Whatever you do, try not to burn any bridges that you may have to cross later down the road!
In your email, you should:
- Show your appreciation, eg: Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work for Company ABC.
- Briefly explain why you’re rejecting the offer, eg: After careful consideration, I have decided to accept a position at another company.
- Offer to stay in touch, eg: Again, thank you for your time and support, and I hope that we cross paths in the future.
Meanwhile, don’t leave employers hanging. Send your email as soon as you’ve decided you won’t be accepting the offer!
Things to remember
Here are some final tips to consider when you’ve been offered a new job:
- Get it in writing. A job offer doesn’t have to be in writing, and neither does your acceptance. But it’s still a good idea to get (and give) everything in writing, and you have every right to ask for this.
- Hand in your notice. If you’re still in employment elsewhere, make sure you provide the appropriate amount of notice to your current employer. Having said, though, it’s a good idea to do this after you’ve received an unconditional offer (when you’ve met all the employer’s conditions, such as supplying satisfactory references or passing a criminal record check) as a conditional offer could fall through. (On that note, don’t forget to check out our guide on writing an effective resignation letter!)
- Know your rights. Once you’ve accepted an unconditional job offer, an employer cannot legally withdraw it without good reason (for example, unsatisfactory references or a poor health record). You may be able to sue them for breach of contract if they withdraw an unconditional offer or you have met all the conditions, or take them to an employment tribunal if you can prove they discriminated against you when they withdrew the offer. Likewise, an employer can make you work out any contractual element of your notice or sue you for breach of contract if you accept an unconditional offer and later change your mind!
What things do you take into consideration when evaluating a job offer? Have you ever had to decide between two offers? Do you have any negotiation tips you’d like to share with fellow readers?
Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts and experiences with us!