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Home  > Article

Evaluating a Job Offer

By Kay LaRocca
SalesTrax

Will the organization be a good place to work? Will the job be interesting? How are opportunities for advancement? Is the salary fair? Does the employer offer good benefits? If you have not already figured out exactly what you want, the following discussion may help you develop a set of criteria for judging job offers, whether you are starting a career, reentering the labor force after a long absence, or planning a career change.

The call came today that you were waiting for! It was the offer of employment. You are excited, but yet you know that you are faced with a difficult decision and must evaluate each offer carefully. Fortunately, most organizations will not expect you to accept or reject an offer on the spot. You probably will be given at least a week to make up your mind. There are many issues to consider when assessing a job offer.

Will the organization be a good place to work? Will the job be interesting? How are opportunities for advancement? Is the salary fair? Does the employer offer good benefits? If you have not already figured out exactly what you want, the following discussion may help you develop a set of criteria for judging job offers, whether you are starting a career, reentering the labor force after a long absence, or planning a career change.

The organization. Background information on an organization can help you decide whether it is a good place for you to work. Factors to consider include the organization's business or activity, financial condition, age, size, and location. Information on growth prospects for the industry or industries that the company represents also is important. Here are some questions to ask:

IS THE ORGANIZATION'S BUSINESS OR ACTIVITY IN KEEPING WITH YOUR OWN INTERESTS AND BELIEFS? It will be easier to apply yourself to the work if you are enthusiastic about what the organization does.

HOW WILL THE SIZE OF THE ORGANIZATION AFFECT YOU?
Large firms generally offer a greater variety of training programs and career paths, more managerial levels for advancement, and better employee benefits than small firms. Large employers may also have more advanced technologies in their laboratories, offices, and factories. However, jobs in large firms may tend to be highly specialized.

Jobs in small firms may offer broader authority and responsibility, a closer working relationship with top management, and a chance to clearly see your contribution to the success of the organization.

SHOULD YOU WORK FOR A FLEDGLING ORGANIZATION OR ONE THAT IS WELL ESTABLISHED? New businesses have a high failure rate, but for many people, the excitement of helping create a company and the potential for sharing in its success more than offset the risk of job loss. It may also be as exciting and rewarding, however, to work for a young firm which already has a foothold on success.

DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU WHETHER THE COMPANY IS PRIVATE OR PUBLIC?
A privately owned company may be controlled by an individual or family, which can mean that key jobs are reserved for relatives and friends. A publicly owned company is controlled by a board of directors to the stockholders. Key jobs are open to anyone with talent.

IS THE ORGANIZATION IN AN INDUSTRY WITH FAVORABLE LONG-TERM PROSPECTS?
The most successful firms tend to be in industries that are growing rapidly.

WHERE IS THE JOB LOCATED?
If it is in another city, you need to consider the cost of living, the availability of housing and transportation, and the quality of educational and recreational facilities in the new location. Even if the place of work is in your area, consider the time and expense of commuting in your decision.

It is easy to get background information on an organization simply by telephoning its public relations office. A public company's annual report to the stockholders tells about its corporate philosophy, history, products or services, goals, and financial status. Most government agencies can furnish reports that describe their programs and missions. Press releases, company newsletters or magazines, and recruitment brochures also can be useful. Ask the organization for any other items that might interest a prospective employee.

Background information on the organization also may be available at your public or school library. If you cannot get an annual report, check the library for reference directories that provide basic facts about the company, such as earnings, products and services, and number of employees. Some directories widely available in libraries include the following:

*Dun & Bradstreet's Million Dollar Directory
*Standard and Poor's Register of Corporations
*Directors and Executives
*Moody's Industrial Manual
*Thomas' Register of American Manufacturers
*Ward's Business Directory Stories about an organization in magazines and newspapers can tell a great deal about its successes, failures, and plans for the future.

You can identify articles on a company by looking under its name in periodical or computerized indexes such as the following - however, it probably will not be useful to look back more than 2 or 3 years.

*Business Periodicals Index
*Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
*Newspaper Index
*Wall Street Journal Index
*New York Times Index

The library may also have government publications that present projections of growth for the industry in which the organization is classified. Long-term projections of employment and outlook for more than 200 industries, covering the entire economy, are developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and revised every other year - see the November 1995 Monthly Labor Review for the most recent projections. The U.S. Global Trade Outlook, published annually by the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the successor to the U.S. Industrial Outlook and presents detailed analyses of the globalization of U.S. industry and growth prospects for six industrial sectors. Trade magazines also have frequent articles on the trends for specific industries.

Career centers at colleges and universities often have information on employers that is not available in libraries. Ask the career center librarian how to find out about a particular organization. The career center may have an entire file of information on the company. The nature of the work. Even if everything else about the job is good, you will be unhappy if you dislike the day-to-day work. Determining in advance whether you will like the work may be difficult. However, the more you find out about it before accepting or rejecting the job offer, the more likely you are to make the right choice. You may want to ask yourself the following questions:

DOES THE WORK MATCH YOUR INTERESTS AND MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR SKILLS? The duties and responsibilities of the job should be explained in enough detail to answer this question.

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE JOB IN THIS COMPANY? An explanation of where you fit in the organization and how you are supposed to contribute to its overall objectives should give you an idea of the job's importance.

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE SUPERVISOR?

DO OTHER EMPLOYEES SEEM FRIENDLY AND COOPERATIVE?

DOES THE WORK REQUIRE TRAVEL?

DOES THE JOB CALL FOR IRREGULAR HOURS? Some jobs involve regular hours - for example, 40 hours a week, during the day, Monday through Friday. Other jobs involve variable hours, including night, weekend, or holiday work. In addition, some jobs routinely require overtime to meet deadlines or sales or production goals, or to better serve customers. Consider the effect of work on your personal life.

HOW LONG DO MOST PEOPLE WHO ENTER THIS JOB STAY WITH THE COMPANY? High turnover can mean dissatisfaction with the nature of the work or something else about the job. The opportunities. A good job offers you opportunities to learn new skills, increase your earnings, and rise to positions of greater authority, responsibility, and prestige. A lack of opportunities can dampen interest in the work and result in frustration and boredom.

The company should have a training plan for you. What valuable new skills does the company plan to teach you?

The employer should give you some idea of promotion possibilities within the organization. What is the next step on the career ladder? If you have to wait for a job to become vacant before you can be promoted, how long does this usually take? Employers differ on their policies regarding promotion from within the organization. When opportunities for advancement do arise, will you compete with applicants from outside the company? Can you apply for jobs for which you qualify elsewhere within the organization or is mobility within the firm limited?

The salary and benefits. Wait for the employer to introduce these subjects. Most companies will not talk about any pay until they have decided to hire you. In order to know if their offer is reasonable, you need a rough estimate of what the job should pay. You may have to go to several sources for this information. Talk to friends who recently were hired in similar jobs. Ask your teachers and the staff in the college placement office about starting pay for graduates with your qualifications. Scan the help-wanted ads in newspapers.

If you are considering the salary and benefits for a job in another geographic area, make allowances for differences in the cost of living, which may be significantly higher in a large metropolitan area than in the a smaller city, town, or rural area.

You also should learn the organization's policy regarding overtime. Depending on the job, you may or may not be exempt from laws requiring the employer to compensate you for overtime. Find out how many hours you will be expected to work each week and whether you receive overtime pay or compensatory time off for working more than the specified number of hours in a week.

Also take into account that the starting salary is just that, the start. Your salary should be reviewed on a regular basis - many organizations do it every 12 months. How much can you expect to earn after 1, 2 or 3 or more years? An employer cannot be specific about the amount of pay if it includes commissions and bonuses.

Benefits can also add a lot to your base pay, but they vary widely. Find out exactly what the benefit package includes and how much of the costs you must bear.

Check the library or your school's career center for salary surveys such as the College Placement Council Salary Survey or salary information compiled by professional associations.

SalesTrax is a national recruiting company uniting sales people and sales opportunities through career fairs and a sales-specific job board. We specialize in pharmaceutical sales positions but represent many other entry and mid-level sales opportunities as well. Visit http://www.salestrax.com for more information.






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