lady offering a card with job written on it.

How to evaluate a job offer

Arguably in the present economic climate a job offer is cause for major celebration, however it is still important to weigh up its merits and how well it works for you.

Receiving a job offer is highly flattering at the best of times. But arguably in the present economic climate it is cause for major celebration, especially for graduates and young people who lack practical experience and are clambering to get on the elusive first rung of the career ladder. Consequently, there can be a tendency to be so grateful that you leap on the first job you’re offered.

While it is a case of needs must for many job seekers, it is still important to weigh up the merits of any job offer and how well it works for you. Knowing how to do so objectively is an important self-discipline as it ensures that you remain on the right career path in terms of landing a good second job and in the longer term. As John Seasman, executive divisional manager, Reed Technical Services, points out, practical experience is essential for building the foundation to a successful career, so he advises in the absence of the ‘perfect job’, graduates accept the best available job.

“When making your decision, you need to balance the security of taking the first job that comes along with your long term goals and potential job satisfaction,” he says.

Think strategically about future roles

With student debt and the cost of living rising, there is a natural tendency to evaluate a job offer solely based on financial reward. Even if you already have a job and your sector wasn’t hit by the recession, this is still a common mistake to make say career experts. According to Matt Salmon, permanent recruiter within the aerospace and automotive markets at technical and professional recruitment agency Matchtech, building a career and earning potential is about moving into new jobs that generate a portfolio of diverse skills and experiences.

“Looking for short-term income rises won’t always fit with this long-term strategy,” he cautions. “While the market in aerospace and automotive is buoyant, this situation could change, and the volume of opportunities to move may not exist in two to three years’ time. Consider all aspects of an offer, both short and long-term, because economic circumstances do change.”

Be true to your personal values

Increasingly, the cultural fit between you and a prospective employer and whether you share a similar set of values are key determining factors of whether you will enjoy working there. Assessing this fit relies on you being self-aware and understanding your own priorities and motivations. If you seek high levels of autonomy, for instance, you may have to question whether working for a large corporation is right for you. Crucially, for those at the start of their career, one of the over-riding factors is whether the training and development programme will match your needs.

“Always choose companies which invest in staff development to give the best possible base for future opportunities,” says Seasman. If this isn’t clear from the offer or your discussions to date, ask.

Weigh up the practicalities

List all of the practical issues that impact on whether you should take the job including cost of living in the area, commute time and how difficult or easy it will be to find suitable accommodation.

“A challenging housing market can often lead to candidates being unable to take up a new job offer because they cannot sell their property,” says Salmon who points out that Matchtech often comes across issues with candidates and relocation.

So while you can put up with compromises in these areas up to a point, what effect will they have on the long term? A long or expensive commute or being forced to sleep on a mate’s floor will bring additional pressures that may ultimately affect your performance in the role.

Seek insight from the inside

Talk to existing employees to find out what it is really like working within the organisation. It’s one thing posting a set of high-minded values on a corporate website but does the day-to-day management of the organisation live up to these? And is the company as committed to career progression and development as it claims to be?

Social and professional networking sites can help to obtain access to people on the inside and face-to-face networking at conferences and events can also provide opportunities for this.

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