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How to Evaluate a Job Offer

You’ve received a job offer. Congratulations! Once the rush of excitement and relief passes, it’s time to critically evaluate the offer. After all, you don’t want to make a hasty decision and regret it later.

A job offer is much more than just a salary or a new title. You’ll need to consider factors like job content, opportunities for advancement, pension or retirement plans, benefits (health, life, and disability insurances), company culture, and others before you can decide if the job is right for you.

One way to prepare for this decision—even before you begin applying to jobs—is to create a list of characteristics your ideal employer and job would have. This checklist will come in handy if you need to compare multiple offers. Don’t forget to consider what the next step in your career might look like at each possible employer. Which company has room for you to grow? Can you see already what your next move would be?

Here are six things to consider before you reply to a job offer

  1. Company reputation. There are lots of online resources, like, where you can read anonymous reviews of a company by current and past employees. Believe it or not, social media is another good source of information. Read comments about the company on their various profiles, accounts, and pages to get a feel for public opinion. Also read up on any recent news articles about your potential employer. A last place to look for telling info on a company’s health is its financial report from the last year. Looking at its revenue and profitability will show you if it’s under any financial pressure or if layoffs or freezes on promotions are looming around the corner.
  2. Salary, promotions, raises, and/or sales commission. The first thing most people notice when they receive a job offer is the salary—and for good reason: it’s what will pay your bills and it’s a reflection of how the company values your skills and expertise. Whether the proposed salary is higher, lower, or just what you expected, here are some questions to ask yourself:
    1. Is the amount different than what was listed (if it was listed at all) on the job posting? If it’s changed, do you know why? Do you agree with the change?
    2. Is there a signing bonus? Can you afford to live off the smaller salary after the signing bonus is paid out?
    3. If the offered salary is less than expected, are other parts of thejob better than expected? If they are, how long can you live on a smaller salary and tighter budget before your savings runs out or there’s a chance for a raise?
    4. Do benefits like commuting compensation, health insurance, etc. offset the difference of a smaller salary?

      Be sure you’re paid what you’re worth. It will be hard to show up and do your best work if you feel you’re undervalued and underpaid. Consider negotiating the salary if the offer is close but misses the mark of what you feel is appropriate.
  3. Benefits and perks. The benefits and perks of a job could make or break the deal for you. It’s totally acceptable to request copies of plan descriptions so you can compare and understand all benefit packages, like health and life insurance, vacation policies, paid time of (PTO), disability insurance, stock options or profit sharing, retirement funds and matching programs, tuition reimbursement, discounts at gyms or health centers, and others.
    Questions to ask include:
    1. Do they offer a retirement savings matching program? What’s the vestment policy (i.e. when you have 100% ownership in company-matched funds in your retirement plan)?
    2. Are there multiple health insurance options, like a PPO and an HSA? Does their insurance coverage include infertility treatments or adoption fees?
    3. Are there restrictions on when you can take your vacation time? What paid holidays are offered?
      Be sure to consider how much a poor benefits package can cost you—paying a lot out of pocket for high premiums, deductibles, and co-pays can take a big chunk out of your salary.
  4. Work hours and travel. Not all jobs conform to 9-to-5 work hours. Be clear on the hours and schedule you’ll be required to work and how they fit with your life.
    Also consider:
    1. Is any travel involved for the position? How much and how often?
    2. What’s the commute and parking like? Will you have to pay for parking at a downtown job or pay tolls to get to/from work? Is any of that reimbursed by the company?
  5. Flexibility and company culture. Consider your other life commitments and how this job will allow you to be active and present for all of them. Consider drop-off and pick-up times for childcare or other reasons you may need a more flexible schedule. The company culture should embrace work-life balance and not make you feel guilty for taking time off when you’re sick or to support your family.
    Also consider:
    1. How are performance reviews conducted?
    2. Is there the opportunity to leave feedback for managers?
    3. What are the options if you need to call off for a family emergency or if you get sick?
    4. Could you work from home or remotely on a regular or as-needed basis?
  6. Personal circumstances and budget. Ultimately, all of the other questions and considerations come down to this: Does this job afford you enough funds, flexibility, and growth potential to excel in the areas of life that are important to you? Don’t underestimate the accuracy of your gut instinct when it gives you an answer to this question.
    Unless you need a paycheck tomorrow, let a less-desirable offer pass you by. Keep applying and wait for a better fit. Know what you’re willing to compromise on. In the end, it’s easier on you and the employer if you turn down an offer rather than decide to leave three weeks into the new job.
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