Evaluating a job offer is an imperfect science, but it’s one that’s important to get right.
To help you in that process, this article provides seven criteria that are important in evaluating a job offer.
The criteria are largely inspired by the book What Color is Your Parachute, which lays out key factors for job satisfaction in the Petal Exercise.
After walking through those criteria, we’ll then discuss how to use that to make a decision on if a job offer is right for you.
Let’s get started.
- 1 Criteria for Evaluating a Job Offer
- 1.1 1. Does it meet your target compensation goals?
- 1.2 2. Does the job use your favorite skills, abilities, or talents?
- 1.3 3. Do you think you’re set up to succeed?
- 1.4 4. Do you think you’ll like your boss?
- 1.5 5. Do you think you’ll like the culture?
- 1.6 6. Does it provide the work environment that you’re looking for?
- 1.7 7. Does it provide a sense of meaning?
- 2 How to bring it all together
- 3 Conclusion
Criteria for Evaluating a Job Offer
1. Does it meet your target compensation goals?
The first criteria is pretty straightforward, and it’s simply evaluating whether or not a job offer meets your target compensation goals.
Now, you do need to have a realistic view of what you can earn based upon your field and job level. If your compensation objectives are way out of line with market rates, you’ll have a tough time finding any job offer that you can accept.
That said, assuming your expectations are grounded in reality (I share a process for determining market rates for job roles in the how to decline a job offer due to salary article), your first criteria is ensuring the offer meets your financial goals.
Something that’s important to consider here is to look at the overall compensation package. The quality of a benefits package can vary significantly from job to job, and plays a big role in your overall comp, so make sure to factor that into your evaluation.
2. Does the job use your favorite skills, abilities, or talents?
Even though compensation is a key aspect in evaluating a job offer, you also want to find a job that you’re going to like and be good at. And that means that means finding a role that leverages your best and favorite talents.
If you’re not sure what those are, we have a couple of resources that may help. The first offers a methodology to figuring out what you’re good at. And the second walks through some ways to discover what you love doing.
3. Do you think you’re set up to succeed?
There are few things more stressful than a fear of losing your job. And, in many cases, you may be setup to fail from the start.
As an example, in the sales and marketing field, there is intense pressure to deliver on a target number every month, quarter, and year. And, particularly if you work in a venture-backed tech environment, the target number and expectations of what you can deliver and when can be absurd.
So when you’re evaluating a job offer, make sure you understand how you’re being measured, what you’re being held to, and the resources at your disposal to ensure that you’re set up for success from the start.
4. Do you think you’ll like your boss?
A 2017 Gallup poll concluded that the #1 reason that people leave their jobs is that they don’t like their manager.
So when it comes to enjoyment of your job, a good relationship with your boss is critical. And while it can be tough to evaluate how well you’re going to like working with your boss from the outset, you want to do your best to gather as much information as you can up front.
During the interview process, really try to understand things like your potential boss’ communication style, expectations, values, and evaluate whether or not those jive with the things that you’re looking for in a manager.
5. Do you think you’ll like the culture?
Company culture can be a bit ambiguous to define, but it’s basically the set of shared values and practices that make up an organization.
And similar to trying to figure out if you’re going to like your boss, it can be tough to assess in an interview. That said, it’s important to gather as much info if you can.
The reason is that, at the end of the day, if a company’s values and practices don’t line up with your own personal values, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to enjoy your time there.
As an example, if the company culture is a grind and the only people that succeed are those that put in 60 hour weeks, but you have young kids and value your family, those two things are not going to mesh.
So be sure to ask different people during the interview process about the company culture. And listen for patterns to establish as best as you can what it’s like to work there.
6. Does it provide the work environment that you’re looking for?
When I’m talking about work environment in this context, I mean the physical working environment and working conditions.
If you really want to work remotely, is the position remote? If you like working outside, is the position outside?
The right work environment plays a key role in enjoyment of your job so be sure to assess that as a part of the evaluation process.
7. Does it provide a sense of meaning?
The final aspect of evaluating a job offer is trying to assess if it will give you a sense of meaning.
Now, to be honest, most professions do not provide much of a sense of meaning. And it can be risky to tie up too much of your meaning in your work. That said, if you can, you ideally want to find work that provides some sense of meaning. Work that makes you excited to get up in the morning to feel like you’re making a difference.
So try to evaluate this when looking at the offer. And if meaningful work is important to you, we have a deeper dive article on how to find meaningful work.
How to bring it all together
Now that we’ve gone through the criteria that are important in evaluating a job offer, now it’s time to discuss how to use that to decide if a job offer is right for you. And there are some key aspects to doing that effectively.
The first is setting and prioritizing your job criteria.
From there, you’re going to want to evaluate how closely the job offer matches with that criteria.
Setting your job criteria
Ideally, you’ll want to do this at the start of a job search but, if you haven’t, it’s ok to retroactively set your job criteria after receiving an offer.
To set your job criteria, what you’ll want to do is for each of the seven factors above, go through them and write out what you’re looking for in that category.
So, for example, write out the salary range that you’re looking for, the types of skills you’re looking to use, the work environment that you want and so forth. Do that regardless of the specifics of any offers that you may already have in hand.
The beauty of writing out your job criteria is that it provides a checklist you can use to evaluate if a job offer delivers on what you’re looking for. And having a defined checklist I’ve found helps to take the emotion out of the process, which can be tough when you have a job offer in hand.
How to use your job criteria to evaluate a job offer
With your job criteria in hand, you can then use it to evaluate a job offer.
And there are two aspects to that process – the quantity of aspects that your job offer matches and the importance of those aspects.
So the first thing here is going through and just saying on how many of the job criteria does this offer match? My general personal rule of thumb is it should match at least half.
From there, you also want to look at the importance of those criteria. In this case, it helps to have gone through a process of prioritizing which are the most important.
To prioritize your job criteria, I’ve found this prioritizing grid to be extremely helpful. It basically enables you to compare each criteria on a 1:1 basis and pick which is most important. The output of that will be an overall prioritized list of what’s most important to you.
Once you have that, you can then evaluate how many of the criteria of your offer match what you’re looking for, and the importance of the ones that do match, to make a decision on if the offer is right for you.
And sometimes the right decision is to hold out for something better.
Evaluating a job offer can be a stressful process. And it’s an inexact science. But with some thought, you can establish a good process for evaluating a job opportunity.
And if the job offer doesn’t match what you’re looking for, then you just decline the offer and hold out until the right opportunity comes along.