“Good news, we’d like to make you an offer!” That’s great. But how do you decide? There are so many things to consider: Is it the right job? Is the company stable? Is the offer enough? How do the benefits compare to what I currently have? What is the 401k? How much vacation? Evaluating a new opportunity is a big decision. If you’re married, it’s also a team decision impacting more people than just you. It can be overwhelming.
I have the pleasure of working with some of the most talented people in their respective fields and regularly have conversations about whether or not to accept a position, whether it’s an opportunity I presented to them or not. The most common mistake I see is thinking about everything all at once. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details. Simplify the decision by breaking it down. Here’s a 3 step guide:
- Do you want the job? Put all the other details aside. Don’t think about the offer. Don’t worry about the 401k or the benefits. Do you want the job? Said another way, do you want the details to work out? If not, they don’t matter. Save the details for the 3rd and final step. First and foremost, are you excited about the opportunity? Step one should really begin when the interview process starts. You should be thinking about this each step of the way. ‘Do you want the job’ should summarize criteria that are important to you such as do you like the hiring manager, is the work interesting/challenging, do you like the industry, etc.
- What will your resume look like in 3 to 5 years? If you are excited about the opportunity, ask yourself this question: What will your resume look like in 3 to 5 years? Odds are your next job won’t be your last. If you’re evaluating an opportunity don’t view it as a life sentence. Learn enough about an opportunity to have a good understanding of the experiences and accomplishments you can obtain over the next 3 to 5 years. Compare that to how your resume will look if you stay put. Are you more marketable and closer to your goals if you take the new opportunity? There are too many variables beyond 5 years. Companies get bought, your spouse gets an opportunity in another city, you start having kids and priorities change, you decide to change directions with your career, the list goes on.
- Now let’s talk money. If you want the job and you feel good about what the move will do for you, now it’s time to evaluate the offer. By the time you get an offer, you should be well on your way to knowing the answer to #1 and #2 which further simplifies the process. Negotiating and deciding on how much money you need to accept is a topic for a different blog. Many factors and personal preferences come into play. But I’ll say this: the most common mistake I see early and mid career is making a job change based purely on financial terms. Accepting a job only because the money is good or turning down an offer because it isn’t enough money. Look, everybody likes money. But early and mid career, and even beyond, the actual opportunity should be more important. A lot more important. A couple of thousand dollars spread over 12 months after tax is not worth accepting an offer for the wrong opportunity. The right opportunity should pay off down the road in the tens of thousands of dollars. Lastly, you shouldn’t negotiate until you know the answer to steps 1 and 2. It is bad business to negotiate, get what you ask for, and still turn down an offer.
Digging into the detail of each step is important but it’s critical to understand the decision making process from 30,000 feet. It’s too easy to get bogged down with details and lose sight of the bigger picture. Following these steps allows you to focus on what’s most important before considering factors that are only relevant if the opportunity is right for you.