Are you weighing two job offers? This is an advantageous position. If you are reading this article, the chances are that the two potential jobs appear fairly equal in value. This makes it hard to choose between them.
The good news is, there is a way to make an informed decision with a tried-and-true method—a good, old-fashioned list.
How To Evaluate the Job Offers
On a piece of paper (or a spreadsheet, or a word-processing document), make two columns, one for each employer. Under each column or employer, enter each of these factors:
The job offer should include exactly how much each organization will be paying you. Add each salary offer to your list. While salary is not the be all and end all—job satisfaction, flexibility, benefits, and many other factors will play into your decision—you do need to know if the salary is one that you can happily accept. To know that, you should have a budget that shows how much you need to earn to cover your expenses.
Remember, however, that your budget is irrelevant when it comes to salary negotiations, which are concerned with what the market will pay for your services, not how much money you need to live your life.
This brings us to determining a fair market value for your labor. PayScale’s Salary Survey generates a free report with an appropriate range based on your education, experience, and skills.
Bonuses, Incentives, Stock Options
Some employers offer cash compensation in addition to salary. Bonuses and incentives are intended to motivate workers to meet certain goals. Stock options allow employees to buy a certain number of shares of company stock, typically after a period of vesting.
Bonuses are not guaranteed, so a bigger salary is preferable to a bonus. Stock options are less reliable; if your company is a startup, for example, there’s no guarantee that it will survive, much less go public.
Benefits like health insurance, dental, vision, and retirement plans are a significant portion of an employee’s compensation. Many companies issue total compensation statements to make this fact transparent to employees (or prospective employees).
If an employer does not offer a breakdown of benefits, you can estimate their real-world value to you by looking at your employee contribution each month and at the benefits offered. Would you be able to keep your doctor on the health insurance plan offered, for example? Does one employer offer dental and vision, while the other doesn’t?
Many companies offer extra perks in addition to the standard benefits package. These might include museum passes, tickets to games for the local sports franchise, occasional or full-time telecommuting privileges, and educational benefits like tuition reimbursement or online classes. Sometimes, these perks can even be negotiable. You never know until you ask.
We spend most of our waking hours at work, so it makes sense that we’d like to spend those hours somewhere pleasant. A corporate culture that fits is different for every worker. Some might love an open office and the associated camaraderie, while others prefer cubicles.
Know what type of corporate culture is the right fit for your working style.
Listen To Your Gut
The last factor is not something tangible that you can put on a spreadsheet. Make sure you are not ignoring a gut feeling. For example, you sense that you might not see eye to eye with your potential boss but you are attracted by a higher salary.
Finally, once you’ve made your decision, remember that jobs change and careers grow. If you do choose one job and discover that it’s not the best fit, you still have options. The other job opening might still be open, or you might be able to return to your old job, or you could stick it out at this opportunity, gain some new skills, and move on to a better position than you’ve ever had before.