How to Evaluate Job Offers and Zoom In On the Right Opportunity for You

You've been successful in your job hunt and have received a job offer. Maybe you received more than one offer. That's great. The next question is, how do you evaluate an offer to see if it is the right one for you? Let's look at some real answers.

The first step is to identify your priorities. Many people make the mistake of evaluating just the offer. They look at salary, work content, benefits, etc but not what they themselves value in a job. Unfortunately, if you don't know what satisfies you, you're evaluating in a vacuum.

So how do you identify your priorities? First, make a long list of all possible factors you can think of. Here's a sample list: match between job responsibilities and your interests, work environment & culture, skill utilization / development, supervisor, coworkers, stability of the organization, potential for growth, salary, benefits, perks, hours you are expected to work, length of commute, location, options for formal training, opportunities to learn new skills, personality fit with the type of work, outstation travel requirements. Add more factors that interest you.

Next, rate each criterion on a scale of 1--10, where 10 indicates that a factor is extremely important to you. Ideally, you should have just a few criteria with ratings of 8, 9 and 10. Those are the critical things you should look for in a job. If you rate most criteria at 8--10, do a rethink and come up with a shorter list of factors that are really key for you. And never mind what your coworkers or friends think are important. Focus solely on what YOU think is important.

You are now ready to scrutinize the job offer(s). Your objective -- to make sure you have enough quality information on hand. Refer to the pre-interview research you would have done on the company. Your personal network can be a very valuable source of inputs -- so ask several people what they think of the organization.

Do a search on the 'net and see what you can turn up on the company, senior management personnel and even your supervisor. Call up the company and ask questions. If they truly want you, then they'll be willing to share information.

Talk to the person who last held the position. If he or she has moved on to another organization, call them up and have a short, informal chat.

Once you're reasonably convinced you have adequate information that's reliable, it's time to match the job offer to your priorities. Pull out the sheet on which you've written down your criteria.

For each criterion, review the information you gathered and see how well the job stacks up against that criterion. As you do this exercise, you may find that you either increase or decrease the importance for some criteria. That's fine.

If the offer matches well with the factors that are most important to you and many others, then you can seriously consider accepting the offer. Else, try negotiating to get more of what you want. If that's not possible, keep looking till you get a job offer that's a reasonably close fit with your interests.

Follow these simple steps and you'll find yourself making better job and career choices.

Ann Wilson is a successful business author who writes extensively on jobs and careers. Her articles include best tips for job interviews, the right questions to ask at an interview and many others with cutting-edge advice on interviewing.

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