Look Beyond Salary & Benefits Before Accepting a New Job
Evaluating the Intangibles
You finally have the formal job offer in hand. But wait! Suddenly, out of nowhere, that long-shot interview you went on paid off. Now you’ve got not one, but two job offers in hand and you need to make a decision. Granted we’re talking champagne problems here, but this is a decision that will affect you for years to come, so you’d better look at every aspect of both jobs and examine everything carefully.
This will be your home away from home for the foreseeable future and a lot is riding on your decision. Here are some things to look for (beyond the obvious salary and benefits) that can help you choose.
1. The Vibe
Job A allows you to indulge in the occasional wild hairstyle or bare your neck to the wind minus a necktie on a daily basis. But maybe you’d be more comfortable in a more traditional, quiet workplace provided by Job B.
Every company has its own vibe. A traditional business will operate with the predictability of a precise marching band. A more progressive corporation will bend “the usual” in favor of a more syncopated environment. You need to weigh the pros and cons of each, compare it to your personality and make the decision that best fits your personality.
2. Look at the Roadmap to Success
Just as you would not hike off into the wilderness without a trail map, neither should you set off to a new job without at least a rough idea of where it will take you. Hopefully, you were able to ask about potential career paths during the interview process.
How long do employees typically hold the same position? Will there be good industry networking opportunities? Is there one path up or multiple approaches? Read the map. There’s no need to memorize the fresh water sources (we’re pretty sure that’s provided), but check the route for accessibility. Will this job take you to that scenic view at the top?
3. Room to Evolve
Will you grow? Aside from the less desirable expansion precipitated by free donuts in the break room, will this job stretch you professionally and enhance your skill set?
A bigger company may offer more training and development opportunities. Conversely, it may relegate you to “one in the herd” status. A smaller company may mean more responsibilities and allow you more chances to be part of key decision-making. Or, it may narrow opportunities to further your education and training. Look for the best growth potential.
4. Organizational Hierarchy
You hit it off with your possible future boss. Her network is vast, and her work experience is the stuff of MBA textbooks. She’s sharp, accomplished and will be a terrific mentor. So is she one in a company million? Or is her level of achievement and expertise the norm? Great talent rarely sets up a permanent camp, and your interviewer is certainly not required to inform you of her travel plans.
Business is dynamic. Change happens. Look beyond an immediate boss to her colleagues and superiors. Will a shake-up in management be likely to offer you opportunities or block them?
5. Is the Grass Really Greener?
Are you considering walking into your boss’ office with job offer in hand? Are you envisioning a pleading and hand-wringing scenario wherein your boss ups the offer and gives you a cubicle upgrade? While you’re at it, go ahead and visualize him cutting the lights and playing an American Idol-esque montage of all your best work successes as the office applauds and — let’s cut to reality.
Once you’ve threatened to jump ship, you have revealed your affinity for the water and a desire to test it. While managers know employees are always on the lookout for greener pastures and you could get a raise and/or promotion, it’s possible your loyalty will forever be in question.
6. Internet Policy
Do you hate being bothered by coworkers telling you you just HAVE to see the latest viral YouTube video? Or, on the other hand, perhaps you detest the fact that you can’t check your fantasy sports teams in between meetings. Whatever the case, finding out the company’s policy on Internet use is a solid indicator of the corporate culture.
If you’re someone who likes to minimize distractions and plough through your tasks without wasting time in a more traditional work environment, don’t feel constantly distracted by your casual coworkers. Conversely, it’s no fun feeling like your creativity is being stifled while you’re imprisoned and restricted for eight-plus hours a day.
Bottom line: if you like to check Facebook or do a little online shopping during short breaks at work, make sure your employer condones it.
7. Privacy Concerns
If you develop an excruciating, undeniable itch or decide to fit in some leg lifts as you work, will you have an audience? Office privacy matters a lot if you are used to being able to close a door. Ruminating on an idea or even filling in numbers within a room of people may require you to develop enhanced focusing skills. There will be distractions, and you may even be one of them. Are you up for that?
Read 14 Ways to Manage Office Distractions for tips on handling a non-private office environment
8. Regular Reviews
We’re pretty certain the proverbial tree falling in a forest will generate a booming noise whether or not anyone is listening. But let’s hope your next boss will notice when costs fall in operations and reward you for your deft allocation skills.
How often can you expect performance and salary reviews? These are both your guardrails and trail markers for career progression. Regular evaluations are critical to your professional growth and advancement. A verbal “good job!” is no substitute for a planned paper trail of your successes.
9. Location, Location, Location
Your business address has an obvious impact on commuting costs, and potentially, your living situation. But you should also consider your proximity to daily conveniences such as shopping, a gym, medical offices and lunchtime walking options. Racing across town to an afternoon doctor’s appointment will negatively impact your blood pressure. Eating lunch en route may similarly affect your nicely pressed shirt.
Working in a city office can be an entirely different experience than reporting to a suburban location. Consider the ease or stress level of alternate commutes. This may be no game changer, but it might break a tie.
10. Level of Autonomy
Do you play well with others? More importantly, do you work well with others? Alternately, do you have the sort of self-motivation and focus that fosters better productivity in more independent work situations?
Will your boss’s office be across the room, down the hall or in another building? To what extent will you be expected to collaborate with others? A skilled player on the wrong team will be wasted talent. Don’t play hockey if you’re better with a nine iron.
11. Stability & Reputation
Aren’t you lucky to be living in the age of social media? Well, except for the certainty that employers are sifting through your virtual life and that your mom keeps tagging your baby pictures on Facebook. But, this is a two-way street. You can (and should) research news articles, reviews and key employees for a big picture view.
Look for community involvement, legal issues and overall reputation. Would wearing a softball t-shirt emblazoned with Business A’s logo garner grins or grimaces? Be sure to consider the source of your information, but go ahead and take a good look under the hood.
12. Company History
Our image of a “Kodak moment” has slid from a happy memory-making event to nostalgia in a basement photo box. Companies who fail to anticipate and keep pace will always be surpassed by the ones who do.
Look at company histories and how each has handled changing trends. Are they followers or innovators? Are they situated to capitalize on future industry opportunities? A well-salaried exciting job in a fading technology should be eyed with caution. There may be genuine opportunity in a planned regeneration. Taking such a job may also result in the need to ramp up another job search.
Trust Your Gut
Ultimately you have to trust your gut. Visceral cues are valuable information gleaned and filtered by your subconscious. They reveal job enhancers and detractors as weighted by your personal preferences. Do the work: calculate long-term financial impacts, commuting costs and health or childcare benefits. Then, include the intangibles such as the actual workspace, travel responsibilities, schedule flexibility and staff friendliness to tip the scale.
Finally, take a walk or sleep on it. Let the intangibles land where they will, and go accept that great job offer. You know which one. Congratulations!
Thank you for reading. As a bonus, the Salary.com editorial staff has put together a recommended reading list for your enjoyment: