In a less-than-stellar economy, it can be a feat just to get a single job offer, much less more than one. But if you do find yourself in the enviable position of comparing two or more job offers, what are the most important factors to take into consideration? Gravitating toward the job with the highest starting salary is normal, but if that’s all you look at you’ve barely scratched the surface of comparison. Before you accept, make sure you’ve given some thought – and done some research into – the various other aspects to a job that can have a profound effect upon your future job satisfaction.
Today’s Salary is Not Tomorrow’s Salary
The salary you make your first year will likely not be the salary you make your second or third year, and that’s something to consider. For instance, what will that salary look like a year from now? Five years? Ten years?
If you’re unsure, then it’s a good idea to check out online websites like Glassdoor, which give insights into salaries and working conditions at companies across the nation. This information is given anonymously by real people who work or have worked there, and by reading company reviews and statistics you can often get an idea of what salaries look like as employees move up the ladder.
A job with a starting salary of $50,000 but a 5% a year average raise will pay more per year in just five years’ time than a job with a starting salary of $55,000 but only a 3% annual raise. Of course, you must also ask if you see yourself working at the same company at whatever point in the future the difference in one potential salary overcomes another. And remember that salary is not the be-all and end-all of considerations.
The Money You Make is More Than Just the Salary You Earn
To truly realize the financial benefits of a job and compare it to others, you’ve got to look at more than just the salary on the offer letter. Other aspects can have a profound effect on your finances. Measure the savings and costs associated with each offer, and compare them to see how they stack up against each other before and after salaries are considered. What sort of health care coverage is offered, and does one company significantly discount it for their employees?
If you live in a metro area, does one company provide parking while another would require you to pay a parking garage out of your own pocket? Does one job require a much longer commute, leading to increased gas and car maintenance costs? Also ask about, and consider, perks such as covered travel, free lunches, professional dues, and gym memberships, if applicable. It’s possible to find, after an examination of job-related benefits and costs, that the job offer with the higher salary is not actually the one that leaves more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
Gauge Your Opportunity for Growth
Year-over-year salary projections are a good transition into thinking about what opportunities for career growth await you at various companies. For example, what does the corporate structure look like? Does one company have a tradition of promoting from within, while another has a history of hiring outsiders for their supervisory and upper-management positions? Unless your goal is only short-term work, each job prospect should be examined with an eye toward the future. Don’t be afraid to inquire about these topics directly with your company contacts before deciding to take an offer.
How Much Flexibility Do You Have
If there are things in your life that you must make time for besides work, whether it’s a family, travel plans, or an upcoming wedding, find out before you accept an offer how much flexibility you would have there. Some important considerations are: How are vacation requests accommodated, and are they ever denied? Is working from home on occasion a possibility? What about in and out hours – will you need to be in your seat at 8 a.m., or are you free to come in later and leave later? And don’t forget to understand how any business-related travel will work, including reimbursements and whether you have the ability to decline, let’s say, a business trip that coincides with vacation plans you made six months ago.
These are the types of questions it is much better to know going into a job rather than finding out once you’re already there. The answers may not all be to your liking, but at least you’ll go in with eyes wide open and having evaluated all of your options.
Last, but certainly not least, consider the culture of the companies you are considering, and what environment you work best in yourself. If you are a self-starter who wants the freedom to drum up new business ideas and present them to the CEO, is this a company that encourages or discourages that? Or, perhaps you work best when your workplace offers an abundance of structure and every employee knows very clearly what is expected of them.
In that case, you may want to choose the job opportunity where you will feel most comfortable and know exactly what to expect. Studies consistently show that job satisfaction is more highly correlated with workplace relationships than with paychecks, so don’t discount the effect that coworkers and office atmosphere will have on your life both in and out of the office.
The process of comparing job prospects deserves more than an off-the-cuff decision, so take the time to write down the pros and cons associated with each offer then compare. Investigate all the ways that each job will impact your life, including, but definitely not limited to, the financial aspect.