Negotiation Skills

Take it or Wait: Evaluating a Job Offer


Evaluating an offer rarely comes down to dollars and cents. Any new job opportunity is a potential shift in your career. You should carefully consider all aspects of the new role and company culture. It may be just what you’ve been waiting for — or a mere exercise until you find something more fitting.

Tips for Evaluating a Job Offer

Assess Your Circumstances

Start with a frank self-assessment of what you want. Make a list of must-haves in a new position, so you have real data to measure the offer against. Among the most important factors are personal. For example, you may need the job after you lost your previous position in a restructuring. Or, you may be financially secure, but crave the chance to use your skills in a new way — to transition from managing employees to advising senior management.

Keep this list at the ready. When you are enjoying the recruitment process, you may lose sight of what you are really looking for.

Research the Company

Use public data to learn about the company: its financial health, history, and projected growth. This gives you some information about whether the organization is well-established or a sinking ship. If it’s the latter, you may find yourself back to square one in 6 months to a year.

Arrange meetings with people who know about the company culture. Use your network to find others willing to have coffee dates or quick chats about what it’s like on the inside. This combined with your own impressions during the interview process can give you a sense of whether the culture is a strong fit at this point in your career.

Consider the Package

Hopefully the offer should not come as a shock to you. In most recruitment processes, general details are woman at computertypically discussed early on. Neither party wants to put too much time into the interview and evaluation process if there isn’t at least ballpark agreement from the outset. You can refine your goals during the process, by giving upfront answers to questions like, “what are you looking for out of this opportunity?”

When evaluating an offer, remember you still have the chance to continue the conversation. For example, you could respond tactfully with questions like, “thank you for extending the offer, I am excited at the possibility of joining your team. Is there any flexibility with vacation time?”

Think through these conversations in advance. Be sure not to close any doors before the deal is final.

Think About the Role

Even the most experienced job hunter may envision the role a different way than the company. Sometimes this miscommunication is not intentional. Perhaps it’s a new position that may evolve over time. It may be that your past experience with similar duties is simply different than what the organization has in mind.

Develop a picture of what the job may be like. Consider such factors as the size of the team, your specific responsibilities, and what happened to the incumbent, if there is one. For example, if you only want to spend half your time training others, don’t take a job that’s expected to be 80 to 90 percent training.

Take Stock of Your Alternatives

Part of your calculation is an honest assessment of what other options you may have. You may be in a position to pass on this job, but still want to keep looking for something better. Take a hard look at the current market and be realistic about whether your ideal role may pop up.

You don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to your network and let people know about your ideal position. They can provide feedback about what’s available, which companies are hiring, any recent roles that have been filled, and anything upcoming that may not yet be widely known.

If your current offer is “good enough,” you may want to take advantage of the opportunity. There’s no harm in having a financial safety net in place in case it doesn’t work out.

Turn it Down With Grace

If you decide to pass on the offer, don’t burn any bridges. Even massive industries have small networks and tightly-knit communities. Even if the job wasn’t the best fit, the people involved put time and care into the recruitment process and may have tailored the package to your preferences.

Woman on laptop and phoneLet the company know as soon as possible about your decision. Leave open the possibility of a future relationship. When you give reasons for not accepting, try to avoid blaming the salary. Other factors may also weigh on your decision.

For example, perhaps it’s a communications job but requires in-depth technical knowledge. You can be honest about that mismatch. Say you would be happy to consider a job in communications that is more focused on marketing, for example.

Ultimately, you want to leave the recruitment process with relationships intact. So when you come in contact with these individuals a second time, they will have positive recollections of you.

Do What’s Right for You

Ultimately, you should not feel obliged to take any job. You should find the best possible fit, unless your life circumstances make it unwise to turn down a steady paycheck. Accepting an offer means making a multi-year commitment that has repercussions for the rest of your career. Do your best to find a role that benefits you and the organization. No matter what happens in the future, you want to look back and say it was the right choice — no matter the outcome.

Still looking for that perfect fit? Explore companies hiring now


About the Author

Catherine Lovering has written on personal finance and careers for the past 10 years. She has been published on, Healthline, and Paste.