First of all, ask yourself if you want this job. Hopefully you spent the time up front to evaluate the company and the position prior to pursuing it. Sometimes things happen faster than you expect and you haven’t fully explored the opportunity. There are a lot of important aspects to research and consider when you are evaluating an employment opportunity. The more you know before the offer, the better position you’ll be in.
A company’s values, vision and corporate culture are going to fundamentally affect you on a daily basis. Does the company you are evaluating motivate and speak to you? Do you feel like it will be a fit with your personality and work style? Just as dating someone with a fundamentally different belief system would be a great challenge, so will working for a company where you do not buy into the mission and vision.
What about the size and hierarchy of the company? Are you more apt to want to wear several hats and take broad responsibilities? Do you want a close working relationship with top management and the ability to see the impacts of your personal contribution? If so, a smaller company may offer you the best fit. Are you focused on training or mentoring programs and a clear career path? Do you have specialized skills that you want to focus on specific endeavors? If so, a larger company may be for you.
Location, hours, and flexibility are also important considerations. If you have to relocate, you’ll want to evaluate the area, cost of living, housing options, and community amenities. Will you need to commute? If so what are the costs and time required? Is there flexibility in terms of hours worked in order to avoid traffic? Can you work remotely for some portion of the week? Will the position require travel?
The company’s background and tenure can be discovered via press releases, newsletters, and annual reports. Take the time to inquire about the company by tapping into professional networks, alumni career offices, current employees, and even competitors. Conduct a search on the internet or pick up the phone and ask the front desk who you might speak with. You’ll want to consider the company’s products & services, market position, industry, age, size, employee turnover, and financial condition.
Now back to that offer you received, is the compensation package in line with expectations? Is the salary competitive? What is the overtime or compensated time off policy? What are the benefits? What does the overall package entail? How does the compensation package compare to the industry? Again, the more research you’ve done upfront, the better you can evaluate the terms you are being offered.
The bottom line probably does not boil down to one number. Salaries may be structured to offer an equity piece or bonuses. Flexibility, training programs, promotion opportunities, salary/performance review, vacation, insurance and other perks are an important part of the overall remuneration you will be receiving.
If you choose to negotiate the pay or benefits, the more research you have done, the better you can present your case. There are many sources for salary information by industry and role such as salary surveys by professional associations, the National Association of Colleges, and websites like Indeed and Monster, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Speaking with people in your professional network within the industry, consulting employment ads, and discussions with external recruiters can give you a lot of insight into the current compensation trends.
Finally, remember that a written offer letter is often regarded as a contract from a legal standpoint. It is important then that this offer covers any aspects that are important to you and reflects the conversations that lead up to it. If official company policies are codified, ask for a copy to review.
Typically you only have a couple days to review and accept a job offer. Be prepared, know what is realistic as well as what you want and where you have room to negotiate. Good luck in your new job!
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