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How To Evaluate a Job Offer


Once you receive a job offer, evaluate it carefully. It takes time to sift through all the issues to be considered, especially in light of your health history. Fortunately, most employers will not expect you to accept or reject an offer immediately.

It helps to develop your own set of criteria for judging job offers - whether you are starting a career, reentering the labor force after a long absence, or planning a career change.

In order to decide if a job is right for you, consider the following:

  • Is the salary plus benefits what you are looking for? Is it reasonable?
    • In order to know if their offer is reasonable, you need a rough estimate of what the job should pay. You may have to go to several sources for this information. Following are some sources to consider:
      • Internet: The internet is an amazing source of information about salaries. In addition to looking for your job in your area, take a few moments to look at salaries for jobs you can do in places you'd also consider living. If there's a really big difference, this may be the time to start considering a move. Some sites at which to start:
        • offsite link has salary ranges for almost 500 occupations and can perform free detailed searches.
        •  offsite linkhas actual information about current employees.
        • offsite link receives data from users.
        • offsite link provides a free basic report on salaries. There is a fee for a more detailed personalized report.
        • Data on earnings by detailed occupation from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey are available from: offsite link
      • Speak with other people in your job -- at other companies and, if possible in the company at which you work.
      • Speak with outside recruiters or employment agencies.
      • If you belong to a profession, consult a professional association.
      • If you are a graduate, contact your teachers and the staff in placement offices. In addition to information about starting pay for graduates, many teachers and placement offices also keep track of compensation for experienced graduates.
      • Check the library or your school's career center for salary surveys such as those conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers or various professional associations.
      • Help-wanted ads in newspapers sometimes give salary ranges for similar positions.
      • You also should learn the organization's policy regarding overtime. Depending on the job, you may or may not be exempt from laws requiring the employer to compensate you for overtime. Find out how many hours you will be expected to work each week and whether you'll receive overtime pay or compensatory time off for working more than the specified number of hours in a week.
      • Take into account that the starting salary is just that -- the start. Your salary should be reviewed on a regular basis. Many organizations do it every year. Find out:
        • How often your compensation will be reviewed.
        • How much you can expect to earn after 1, 2, or 3 or more years. An employer cannot be specific about the amount of pay if it includes commissions and bonuses.
      • Benefits can add a lot to your base pay, but they vary widely. Find out exactly what the benefit package includes and how much of the cost you must bear. An employer can probably also tell you how much each benefit you would receive costs the employer. Benefits can be a substantial part of a compensation package. To determine the value of benefits for yourself, see How To Calculate The Dollar Value Of Benefits At Work.
      • If you are considering the salary and benefits for a job in another geographic area, make allowances for differences in the cost of living, which may be significantly higher in a large metropolitan area than in a smaller city, town, or rural area.
  • How long do you have to wait until health coverage starts?
    • Will you be able to extend coverage from your former employer under COBRA until then?
  • Will there be a new pre-existing condition exclusion period until your health condition is covered under the new employer's health plan?
    • If so, is it legal under HIPAA? (To learn more, see HIPAA.)
  • Will you be able to continue with your doctors, or will you have to see new ones?
  • Does the organization's business or activity match your own interests and beliefs?
  • How will the size of the organization affect you?
    • Large firms generally offer better employee benefits than do small firms, a greater variety of training programs and career paths, and more managerial levels for advancement. Large employers also may have more advanced technologies. Many jobs in large firms tend to be highly specialized.
    • Jobs in small firms may offer broader authority and responsibility, a closer working relationship with top management, and a chance to clearly see your contribution to the success of the organization.
  • Should you work for a relatively new organization or one that is well established?
    • New businesses have a high failure rate, but for many people, the excitement of helping to create a company and the potential for sharing in its success more than offset the risk of job loss.
    • It may be just as exciting and rewarding to work for a young firm that already has a foothold on success.
  • Does it make a difference if the company is private or public?
    • An individual or a family may control a privately owned company and key jobs may be reserved for relatives and friends.
    • A board of directors responsible to the stockholders controls a publicly owned company and key jobs are usually open to anyone.
  • Is the organization in an industry with favorable long-term prospects?
    • The most successful firms tend to be in industries that are growing rapidly.
    • Look at current prospects, not what you learned growing up. Industries that were solid when you were growing up, may be on the decline today.
  • Are the duties of your potential job what you like to do?
    • Even if everything else about the job is attractive, you will be unhappy if you dislike the day-to-day work.
    • The more you can find out about the job before accepting or rejecting the offer, the more likely you are to make the right choice.
    • When you interview, the interviewer will tell you about the job. You can also speak people in the job, either with the prospective employer or another employer.
    • You can learn the most by work experience. For example, through part-time, temporary, or summer jobs, or through internship or work-study programs while in school.
  • Where is the job located?
    • If the job location is not in your area, consider the time and expense of commuting.
    • If the job is in another section of the country, consider:
      • Are you willing to leave your doctors?
      • The quality of medical care available in the new area.
      • The support you receive from people who live in your area that will change, and possibly drop away, if you move.
      • Cost of living, including tax rates.
      • The availability of housing and transportation.
      • The quality of educational and recreational facilities.
      • The cost of the move if you're paying for it.
  • Does the work match your interests and make good use of your skills?
    • The duties and responsibilities of the job should be explained in enough detail to answer this question.
  • How important is the job in this company?
    • An explanation of where you fit in the organization and how you are supposed to contribute to its overall objectives should give you an idea of the job's importance. Jobs that are more important are likely to have better prospects of advancement -- and long term security.
  • Are you comfortable with the hours?
    • Consider the effect that the work hours will have on your personal life and on your health condition. Will you have enough time for your other priorities?
    • Most jobs involve regular hours-for example, 40 hours a week, during the day, Monday through Friday. Other jobs require night, weekend, or holiday work.
    • Some jobs routinely require overtime to meet deadlines or sales or production goals, or to better serve customers.
  • How long do most people who enter this job stay with the company?
    • High turnover can mean dissatisfaction with the nature of the work or something else about the job or company.
  • What opportunities are offered by the employers?
    • A good job offers you opportunities to learn new skills, increase your earnings, and rise to positions of greater authority, responsibility, and prestige. A lack of opportunities can dampen interest in the work and result in frustration and boredom.
    • Will you be more marketable after a few years in this job?
    • Does the company have a training plan for you? What valuable new skills does the company plan to teach you?
    • The employer should give you some idea of promotion possibilities within the organization.
    • When opportunities for advancement do arise, will you compete with applicants from outside the company?
    • Can you apply for jobs for which you qualify elsewhere within the organization, or is mobility within the firm limited?
  • Have you met the person to whom you'll be reporting? Have you toured the office?
    • If not, take the time to do both. It would also be helpful if you could learn what other people think of your new boss. Maybe s/he is a friend of a friend.
  • What does your gut tell you?
    • Is your gut telling you this is not a good idea? Intuition can be a good indicator about whether a job is a good fit.

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