How to Decide Between Two Job Offers

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Are you weighing two job offers? This is an advantageous position. Although The Great Recession is fading disappearing from the rear-view mirror, it is still uncommon to have two solid job offers on the table at the same time.

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.

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:  

Salary

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 expanses.

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.

Which 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 over 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.

Standard Benefits

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?

Additional Perks

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.

Corporate Culture

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 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 might be able to return to your old job, or you could stick it out at this opportunity, gain some skills, and move on to a better position than you’ve ever had before.

The bottom line is to keep thinking about the future, building your CV and connections, and thinking about the next opportunity.