How to Evaluate a Job Offer

What to consider when making a decision about a job offer or career change.

Laura Adams, MBA
6-minute read
Episode #187

Job Offer Consideration #3: Expenses

You’ll want to add up all expenses (or savings) that would come with a new opportunity. If you won’t be eligible for insurance benefits for six months, for instance, factor in the cost of purchasing a temporary private policy. Having a longer commute to your office or travel time to customers could mean spending much more money on auto maintenance, gas, tolls, and insurance. Having the option to work from home could save you money on auto or clothing expenses but cost you money for a computer or office equipment, for instance. Additionally, being self-employed means that you have to pay self-employment tax, which is a significant expense. I covered that topic in episode 129, From Employee to Self-Employed, so please refer to that article for more information on how the self-employment tax works.

Since the value of benefits can be a substantial chunk of your total compensation, it’s very important to review them carefully.

If a job requires you to move to a new city, you’ll need to evaluate all the expenses of relocating and how much, if any, the company will reimburse. Research the new city’s cost of living, including housing, local property taxes, state taxes, and insurance rates for auto and homeowners, to see how they compare to your current expenses.

Job Offer Consideration #4: Time

One of the most difficult variables to estimate is how much time you’ll spend working in a new career. If you’re paid by the hour and have to work lots of hours, you might welcome additional overtime income. But if you earn a salary and consistently work really long hours or have to travel extensively, then you might end up earning much less than you do now—at least on an hourly basis.

If it’s possible, talk to someone who has a similar job and ask about their typical work load. Get clarity about what industry events, conferences, or trainings you’d be required to attend each year. Also try to get a feel for the flexibility you’d have for making personal appointments and commitments. If you’re considering starting your own business, you’ll have a huge amount of flexibility, but will probably have to work extremely long hours to get your enterprise off the ground.

Job Offer Consideration #5: Career Path

If your career path is what’s most important to you, the pay, benefits, time on the job, and expenses might take a back seat. If you’re passionate about your work or are confident that a particular job will ultimately take you where you want to go, then receiving less compensation may be worth it. If you’re counting on getting a promotion, learning certain skills, receiving a specific job title, or relocating to a more desirable location, try to figure out how quickly you might be able to achieve your goals.

Job Offer Consideration #6: Environment

A very important feature of a job is the day-to-day work environment that you’ll be immersed in. I’m sure you realize that the people you work with can turn a job into a heaven or a hell! Try to meet the people you’d work with, such as your boss, supervisor, or other important co-workers and get a tour of the office where you’d be working. If it’s possible to job shadow the employee you’d replace, or someone with a similar job, that always provides a huge amount of insight about the culture and environment of a company. Ask yourself if a new company has a reputation, culture, and core values that you’d be proud to uphold. Find out if they operate by a code of conduct and if you could review that document.

How to Interview Successfully

If you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot of information to ask a potential employer about, don’t let that deter you. I’ve interviewed and hired many people and can tell you that the ones who didn’t ask lots of questions concerned me. The candidates who asked intelligent questions and seemed interested in making sure the company was a good fit for them, made me feel confident that they’d succeed if they were hired. That may even be enough to make the employer boost their compensation offer if they really want you.

How Much Should You Be Paid?

And speaking of compensation, how do you know how much you should be paid? Well, there are lots of good resources like salary.com, payscale.com, and the Bureau of Labor’s Web site at bls.gov to help you get a handle on how much your skills and experience are worth in a particular job market. And one final quick and dirty tip is to ask for everything in writing before you accept a job offer.

Money Girl Audiobooks and E-book

I want to thank everyone who’s downloaded a Money Girl audiobook or e-book and encourage you to submit a review wherever you bought it! You can get the audiobooks—Money Girl’s Guide to Retirement Planning and 10 Steps to a Debt Free Life—at Audible.com or in the iTunes store. Or if you prefer reading, 10 Steps to a Debt Free Life is also available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.com.

The podcast edition of this tip was sponsored by Go To Meeting. Save time and money by hosting your meetings online. Visit GoToMeeting.com/podcast and sign up for a free 45 day trial of their web conferencing solution.

Job Offer image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.