When searching for a new job, it can be hard to tell which offers to accept and which to decline. You don’t want to jump out of the proverbial frying pan into the fire, so it’s important to take your time to carefully evaluate each job offer you receive before handing in your notice to your current employer.
From a higher salary and better benefits to predictable compensation increases and structured career growth, there are a number of key positives to watch for that indicate a job offer is worth accepting.
When to Accept a Job Offer
When reviewing a new job offer, consider the compensation package as a whole instead of focusing on a single factor like the salary or hours. This will help to ensure that your move to a new employer is successful all around and that you take in the bigger picture.
Consider accepting job offers that provide some of the following features:
1. Higher Salary
As you grow your skill set and become a more experienced professional, you expect to be compensated for your advanced knowledge and abilities. A potential employer who sees your worth and is willing to offer a competitive salary makes you feel valued and respected because you know they understand what you bring to the table.
A higher salary provides more financial freedom and gives you a chance to shift your budget around to contribute more toward debts and savings and even improve your quality of life. If the salary’s more than what you make now, or it’s your first job and it matches the average pay for your position, consider making it official.
Alternatively, if everything else about the offer seems like a fit but the salary came in slightly lower than expected, negotiate a higher wage.
2. Better Benefits
Perks and benefits can make or break a job offer. Even if the salary is less than you’d hoped for, additional forms of compensation like bonuses, extensive health benefits, paid time off, child care allowances, stock options, and 401(k) matching contributions are all worth considering.
Think about which benefits are the most important to you and how you often would use them. While major benefits like health insurance are obviously advantageous, smaller perks can help to lower your expenses by covering costs such as your gym membership or parking fees.
Outside of salary, perks and benefits can make a positive difference in your financial health on their own. If a new role offers more or better benefits than your current job, it could be the right move for you.
3. Lower Expenses
If your budget is tight or you’re working hard to pay off debt or save for a major purchase, lower expenses can make a huge difference to you. Sometimes, a job search can lead you to roles with fewer out-of-pocket costs. For example, in a remote role, you typically don’t have to worry about:
- Parking fees
- Gas or public transit tickets
- Buying lunch every day
- Purchasing office attire
And, some employers or roles that require in-office work either cover these costs or provide alternatives, such as free parking, no formal dress code, or onsite food.
If these items weren’t addressed during the interview process, feel free to ask about them before you formally accept a job offer. It’s important to have a clear picture of everything that’s included in the compensation package so you can determine whether it’s the right job for you.
4. Structured Compensation Plan
Not all jobs provide structured compensation plans, but those that do let you know exactly what to expect when it comes to raises and bonuses in the future. For example, some companies provide annual reviews that include compensation adjustments.
This allows you to plan for budgetary changes and big purchases and keeps you from having to wonder if and when your pay will ever increase.
Most employers who offer structured compensation will let you know exactly what you need to do to make it to the next year, giving you clear goals to work toward and propelling your career advancement.
Asking the recruiter or hiring manager about compensation structure during the hiring process will shed some light on how a prospective employer approaches salary increases and compensation evaluations. If they are able to provide details about when and how they typically review performance and provide raises, accepting the offer may be an ideal career move for you.
5. Career Advancement Plan
Structured compensation plans often come with career advancement plans. These could be geared toward learning new skills, taking on new responsibilities, or working toward your personal career goals.
While not all companies will share the details of their career advancement plans with you, hiring managers and recruiters should at least be able to explain the possibilities for career growth for the position in question.
This is especially enticing if there’s a chance you could progress into your dream job in the future.
If you didn’t ask interview questions related to career growth in the position you’re considering, make a point of asking them now so that you understand what to expect if you take the job.
6. Learning Budget
Jobs that come with a learning budget or tuition reimbursement are the perfect way to advance your professional skills while saving money on educational costs. The best part is that the knowledge and abilities you gain can be used for any of your future jobs as well, boosting your career potential and making you an even more desirable candidate.
Just make sure that you understand what the budget can be used toward. Some employers limit spending to online platforms like LinkedIn Learning, while others will pay for formal certificates and designations.
7. The Company’s Financial Health
It can be hard to learn details about a company’s financial health during a job interview, but there are some positive indications to watch for. While researching the company and interviewing as a job seeker, pay attention to:
- Recent funding and investment news online
- Whether the role is an expansion role or to backfill a position
- Awards related to growth and innovation
- How competitive the total compensation package is
- Public stock information
It’s also important to take note of general information you find about the company as well. For example, read up on whether there have ever been mass layoffs or if the company has ever been part of a scandal.
If the business has been experiencing strong, consistent growth, and has been recognized by investors or local business associations, it’s a good sign that they’re doing well and would be a good landing spot for you.
8. New Job Title
A new job title typically equates to career advancement. In turn, taking on new responsibilities translates to a higher wage, better benefits, and more negotiating power for you in your current role and for future job opportunities.
An offer that comes with a new, better job title is, in many ways, a promotion that is helping you to climb the corporate ladder. That makes it more appealing, all else being equal, than an offer that comes with the same title as you have now, or one that’s junior to your current role.
If an already generous job offer comes with a new title that will help you move forward in your career path, it’s definitely worth considering.
9. Realistic Work Expectations
Realistic work expectations don’t just come with emotional and mental benefits, like less stress and more time to decompress, but they also have financial benefits as well.
Jobs that pay you a salary but regularly expect additional work on evenings and weekends may not add up to as much pay as you thought.
For example, working for 40 hours per week and getting paid $50,000 equates to roughly $25 per hour. But if your average workweek is 50 hours and your salary is $50,000, you’re only getting paid about $20 per hour.
While the amount deposited in your bank account will be the same, the time you spend earning it won’t be.
If work-life balance is important to you, and you want to ensure your salary accurately reflects your work expectations, take a careful look at your offer.
Pay attention to the work hours described, including whether there’s any mention of evenings, weekends, and required travel, or whether you’ll need to be on call. If overtime isn’t addressed in your offer or the hours are unclear, ask your potential employer for clarification before signing your acceptance.
A higher salary, better benefits, and the financial health of a potential workplace are all important factors when it comes to evaluating and accepting a job offer. But it’s important not to focus on one single aspect and to look at the total compensation package as a whole to determine what’s really on the table.
Remember that you can negotiate more than just your salary, so if an offer isn’t what you were expecting, don’t decline it altogether. Consider responding with a counteroffer that includes some of the above topics, like a learning budget or structured compensation plan.