We spend so much time and effort in the whole job search process – the perfect resume, the great answers to tough interview questions, the time spent on networking, the time invested in LinkedIn, and on and on and on. Then, the happy ending – a job offer! But, this can be the toughest and the most important part of the whole job search process.
In this guest post, Patra Frame, HR executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources, shares her insight into what happens at this critical point in the job search. Patra is a senior HR executive with many years of experience in this field and also, as a veteran of the United States Air Force, Patra is Job-Hunt’s Veterans’ Job Search Expert.
The Job Offer!
By Patra Frame
When you are looking for a new job, you often focus entirely on the hunt…the hard work of finding opportunities and selling yourself. Then, an offer or two comes, and you suddenly have decision-making nerves! You thought the job offer would solve everything, didn’t you!
Job offers come in a variety of ways. Some come in writing. Many private sector organizations call first. If you have been hired through a search firm, they may notify you. However you get an offer, respond positively, but ask for time to think before you accept.
Always ask for a written job offer. You would be surprised how often such a letter does not contain quite the same information as a verbal offer. So get it in writing!
What Is Important to You?
So how do you evaluate your options? What do you do now?
Ideally you created a list of important issues and goals when you began your job hunt. These guided your hunt then and now form the basis for evaluating any job offers. But many folks do not do this formally.
Whether you have one offer or several, evaluating an offer is easiest if you have a decision checklist or matrix of those work aspects which are most important to you.
If you create such a list after you have an offer, be especially careful to consider what is really important to you and are not just related to the offer in hand.
Whether you do a formal checklist, talk it out with a confidante, or work it out by other means, this decision matrix exercise can help you to choose the right job. Compare each job offer to your current job and, if you have more than one offer, to each other. This helps you avoid big mistakes!
Here are some examples to give you ideas for your own list:
- Uses strengths in X ( a skill you want to use.)
- Offers learning opportunity for new skills/technologies
- Offers growth and development opportunities
- Commute is under X minutes
- The position has realistic short-term goals
- Boss’s style is compatible with your style of work
- Good retirement savings plan
- Financially stable organization
- Rapidly growing organization
- Respectful workplace atmosphere
Some people will also weight each of their needs — how detailed you want to be in this process is a personal choice.
In making your decision list, look for the items that make you successful. Pay is rarely the more significant part of the decision unless all else is right, but the money is way out of line. Good career decisions are those that put you in a job where you can succeed in an environment that allows you to contribute and thrive.
Making the Decision
Once you have made your list, you are ready to begin evaluating your offer:
- Review the offer letter
- Check your interview notes and all the other research you have done
- Look at your decision checklist. Evaluate each item
- Add a list of any other positive or negative aspects of the specific offer/organization
If you have much work experience, add a big dose of ‘gut feeling’ to the evaluation process.
Once, when unemployment was very, very high and I had been searching for a very long time, I got a great job offer. Terrific work in a great bank, a boss and coworkers I liked during extensive interviews, excellent money, even a big title and office. It met or exceeded almost all my criteria. But there was a little red flag. Oh, how I wanted to ignore that little red flag. I was scared because I had exhausted my savings and I was desperate for a job. I fought with myself…but I said no. They could not believe me and offered even more money. But I still said no.
Five years later I met a person from that bank who told me that no-one had lasted in that job for more than 6 months! And that not one person who had been in that large corporate Human Resources function was still there. Can you guess how happy I was that I trusted my gut feeling about the little red flag!
A decision checklist like this is only as good as your ability to evaluate the criteria you have selected as important. You cannot effectively do this without good information. You must have done your research on the organization and confirmed or adjusted your views with what you learned during your interviews.
But you also cannot make a list with 15-20 items and do a sensible comparison. So try to define the most important items you are seeking in your next job. These should include the type of work and environment you need to succeed plus any special constraints you may have for family or health or other personal needs.
And once you decide, let the company know right away. Call and say yes or no.
Negotiate if necessary. But do not delay too long, you could lose the opportunity or create concern among your potential coworkers. Then, send in any paperwork they want immediately. Or keep up your job hunt.
© Copyright, 2012, Patra Frame. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
About Patra Frame
Patra Frame has extensive experience in human capital management and career issues in large and small corporations. She is an Air Force vet and charter member of The Women In Military Service for America Memorial. Patra speaks and writes regularly on job search and career issues through her company Strategies for Human Resources (SHRInsight). Watch Patra’s job search tips videos on YouTube.
Winning Negotiation Strategies for Your New Job (Job-Hunt.org)