After making it through the interview process, it’s tempting to accept any job offer thrown your way. However, some scrutiny over the details can help you decide whether a job is truly right for you, your family, and your career. Taking time to explore the job’s immediate benefits, long-term opportunities, professional expectations, and personal costs can ensure you make the right choice for such a major commitment.
EditAnalyzing the Pay and Work Benefits
- Break down the paycheck to see how much you’ll make. Look first at the direct income being offered. Ask whether the job is hourly or salaried and how that affects the money you make. Then, use a take-home pay calculator to find how much you will be left with after taxes. If you are not receiving a physical paycheck, ask how your money will be distributed and if there are fees associated with it.
- Ask what taxes the company covers. Before accepting a position, make sure the company’s tax policies meet your needs. If you are being hired as a standard employee, ask how much the company contributes to your tax burden. If you are being hired as a freelancer or independent contractor, be aware of differing tax expectations and what filing forms the company will send you at the year’s end.
- Compare your salary to industry standards. Use salary comparison sites like PayScale to get an idea about existing salary trends in your area. If your position will be tied to a union, see if the offer meets or exceeds negotiated standards. If a company offers significantly less than competitors, it should serve as a major red flag.
- Ask about sick days, paid leave, and holidays. Look at how many sick days and days off you have to start and how you can earn more. Ask what holidays the company takes off and whether you get paid on those days. Look at what, if any, vacation packages your company offers and how those affect your paycheck.
- If a job provides no paid leave or very few vacation days, it may indicate that they overwork employees.
- Ask how the company handles raises. Some employers offer standard, tiered raises over a period of time. Others give them based on personal performance. If you expect to be with the company for a significant length of time, ask if raises are offered and how they are applied.
- Tour the company facilities. Before accepting a position, ask to look inside the building you’ll be working from. Take note of any employee lounges, gyms, and other areas included in your benefits package. If possible, tour the work area during operating hours to see what employees are doing and if they are happy.
- If they know a tour is scheduled, many managers will have their team clean the area and dress more formally than normal. Just like you at the interview, they’re putting on their best face.
- Ask about healthcare and life insurance. If offered for your position, look at what insurance options the company is willing to offer, along with local coverage details. For each policy, look at what is protected, what is not, and what deductibles exist. Ask how each plan affects your pay and how the cost is split between you and the company.
- Avoid working for companies that only provide minimum coverage plans, especially if you have significant health issues.
- If you are married or have dependents, ask if and how each policy covers them.
- If you do not like the employer’s offerings, remember that you are allowed to turn them down and look for better or cheaper private options.
- See if you can work from home. Depending on the job, many companies allow full or partial telecommuting options. These policies are particularly prevalent in start-ups, computer jobs, and personal creative work. If offered, ask how time is tracked, what hours are expected, and how you report to the company.
- Working from home can be a great benefit if you lack steady transportation or live in a remote area.
- Ask about stock options and other financial benefits. Some employers offer stocks or a stake in the company as part of the benefits package. Make sure you read what your specific haul includes, the risks associated with it, and how to cash out when appropriate.
EditEvaluating the Costs
- Ask about standard working hours. Look at what times you are expected to be at work, along with how many breaks are offered. Some jobs have flexible hours, while others have more rigid expectations. Ask about whether overtime is required and how that would alter your work schedule. Make sure any excess work follows government mandated overtime laws.
- Look at reviews of the company. Websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Vault offer in-depth rankings and employee reviews of companies. When making your decision, be aware of how other people felt during their time of employment. Keep in mind that different employees have different priorities, so a user praising a company’s emphasis on travel may be a red flag for those looking to stay local.
- Some companies do not allow employees to accept side or supplemental work. If the job will not provide enough money to live, or if you hope to break into gig-based industries like film, acting, or writing, you may want to reject the offer.
- Ask about compensation for personal expenses. While some jobs provide all supplies necessary to work, others expect employees to provide or purchase their own items. Ask whether you are compensated for these and, if not, whether they can be written off your taxes. If you are expected to drive, ask how they calculate mileage compensation and whether you will use your own car, a company car, or a rental vehicle.
- Break down your commute cost. Figure out how far you’ll have to travel to reach your office each day. If you are using a car, calculate how much gas you’ll need and how long each trip will take in heavy traffic. Certain companies, especially those located in cities, require parking permits, so be aware of any costs required to obtain one.
- If you are using public transit, ask whether the company or local government offers free subway, streetcar, or bus passes.
- Ask how much you will travel for work. At some jobs, an employee never leaves their desk. In others, they are expected to make small trips during the day or large trips throughout the year. Ask how much traveling you are able or expected to do, as well as whether you will be driving, flying, or both.
- Think about how the job will affect you and your family. Before accepting a job offer, think about how the position will change your life. Jobs with long or abnormal hours may be perfect for someone single, but it could have a negative effect on family relationships. If you are expected to move, think about what the change means for you personally and your partner or children.
- If you are relocating to another country, make sure you qualify for entry under their current immigration laws. Factor local cost of living, currency exchange rates, and cultural differences into your decision.
EditLooking at Your Future Goals
- Ask about career growth opportunities. Some jobs offer very little room for professional growth, while others offer a significant amount of upward mobility. If you are being offered a labor or floor job, see if it is possible to become a manager over time. If you are starting from a high position, find out where the employment ceiling is and what those jobs offer.
- Typically, large corporations offer a lot of room for growth while small companies do not. Start-ups may in the future, but they also have a high risk of bankruptcy and layoffs.
- Think about your position title and what it means. Before accepting a position, ask about your job title and what it entails and represents. Read through your employee expectations and make sure you’re prepared to tackle them. If you are moving from a senior role in one company to a junior role in another, think about how that will affect your overall career timeline and CV.
- Think about how the job affects your career path. Every time you get a new job offer, it helps to do some introspection on how it can alter your career. Though a job may pay your bills in the short-term, it might not provide the experience or growth you’re looking for. Taking a full-time job outside your desired industry may hurt your chances at landing a dream position, especially for highly-specialized fields like medicine and law.
- If the role is a natural extension of your previous work, it makes sense to accept the offer. However, if the job adds little value to your CV, it may be best to let it go.
- Ask about employee retirement packages. If you expect this to be your final place of employment, ask about the company’s retirement policies. Look through what retirement packages are available and when they are distributed. Some companies expect you to retire after a certain age, so make sure you are aware of any elder ceilings in place.
- Ask for at least 48 hours to evaluate the job offer. This will give you the opportunity to take a clear-eyed look at what’s on the table, evaluate it, and weigh your new employer against your current.