How to Evaluate a Job Offer

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by Linda Goin

"Tips on how to evaluate that job offer to learn whether or not it is right for you"

The job market is slim right now, but some folks seem to have found their niches. How do you evaluate a job offer? In this article, Linda offers some tips on how to evaluate that job offer to learn whether or not it is right for you.

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It's Money – Just Take the Job

Let's get down to basics here. If you cannot read this article because your power bill has been cut off or if you've had to sell your computer for rent, then – by all means – take that job as a waiter or as a garbage collector to get back on your feet.

But, if you haven't drifted that far down the food chain yet, if you still have a glimmer of hope about that job as a Web designer or programmer, then you need to begin evaluating job offers when you get them.

How do you evaluate a job offer? How do you know if a job is right for you, let alone whether or not you are right for any given job? Unfortunately, most businesses will give you little time to accept or reject a job offer, which is one sign that you are – in essence – a commodity for that business. If you don't respond in time, there's another person right behind you ready to take what could have worked for you.

If you entered the job market and sent a resume to an organization without doing your homework first, then only you are to blame if you end up with a lousy job when you accept their offer. In essence, it's just about the money – just take the job.

But, if you are seeking a career or a life-altering experience (meaning more money, more travel, more time off or something else that cranks your tractor), then how do you go about finding that job?

What To Discover First

Before you send off your resume in response to any job offer, do a little homework first. You might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the organization provide a good work environment?
  • Will the job be interesting?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • Is the salary fair?
  • Does the employer offer health or other benefits?

Depending upon whether you're seeking a job in the U.S. or in Europe (or in some other part of the world), the answers to those questions might vary in their values.  For instance, if the job is in the U.S., you'll want to work for an employer that offers health benefits – otherwise, you'll end up paying for health insurance. The addition of benefits can equal up to 30 percent of a person's actual salary.

Therefore, if a salary doesn't seem up to par, you might consider time off, the offer of overtime pay, health insurance, travel benefits and other issues that would make the job appealing to you.

The Organization

Even if you cannot learn the answers to the above questions immediately, you can learn more about the organization that is offering the job before you apply. Factors to consider include the organization's business or activity, financial condition, age, size, and location.

You generally can get background information on an organization, particularly a large organization, on its Web site or by calling its public relations office. If you're going for a job at a publicly-traded company, you can find information about that company's financial status and philosophies in their annual report to the stockholders. Press releases, company newsletters or magazines, and recruitment brochures also can be useful. If possible, speak to current or former employees of the organization.

You could go as far as seeking information about the company at the public library, but if you are seeking a job at a company that focuses on online venues, then most of the material you'll need is online. Which brings me to another point...evaluate the company simply through the ad that they run...

Evaluating Ads

If you are desperate for work, you might be game to apply to just about any job offer.  But, if that offer doesn't supply the name of the company, let alone a location, then don't bother wasting your time. If that company is so inexperienced that they cannot run a decent ad for employees, then you don't want to work for them.

On the other hand, check out this ad produced by Quora:

In this beginning part of the ad, Quora states who they are (a question-and-answer site), they state that they are in limited beta and that they are seeking engineers and product designers to work in Palo Alto, California. They also go on to state the type of software that they use. By the time you're through reading this part of the ad, you know if you game for this position or not.

The second part of that ad includes lists that you can tick off to learn if you are right for the specific job.

The engineer's position is pretty straightforward. If you don't have a degree in computer science, or the equivalent of that degree, then you can forget about applying. If you have that degree, then read on down the list to see if you match the other requirements. They're fairly specific, aren't they? This is a well-written ad, and one that shows the world exactly the calibre of individual that this company wants to hire. Let's look briefly at the product designer job:

This job is far less demanding in the educational aspect, but no less demanding in the "exceptional" requirements. Unlike the engineering portion of the ad, the product design portion sends strong signals about the actual job:

1.You will have the authority and ability to make strong decisions about important parts of the product without much oversight

2.Portfolio requires self-started projects

3.You must have excellent communication skills and ability to explain your design decisions

4.You should be ready to make this startup the primary focus of your life

In other words, if you decide to take this job, you are responsible for your decisions. There is no one to blame for sending you off on the wrong track, or for producing an inappropriate project. Number four tells me that this company expects me to be married to the least for a year or two and maybe more.

This job may not suit the wallflower nor the student who has no experience. But, it can provide you a clue to some jobs that exist on the market, and you can decide whether that job is for you or not.

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing, and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on site at archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in creating social media environments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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