Weighing Job Offers

You were beginning to give up, to think you'd never get a really good job. You'd done all the right things and followed all the rules of the smart job hunt: exemplary research, networking, Internet search, resume and letters, interviews and even carefully crafted thank-you notes, but for weeks nothing happened. It was hard not to feel sorry for yourself and even more of an effort not to let self-doubts get you down.

Finally, however, not one, but two interesting job offers came your way. They each had positive aspects along with some negative ones. How could you intelligently distinguish between them? This is when a good decision-making system comes in handy. Here is one exceptionally helpful method:

1. Draw a chart.

2. From the following list, choose the six work needs that are most important to you:

A. Good pay and compensation: Consider stock options, regular raises, incentives and bonuses. If you're moving to another city, does the money cover increased living expenses? Be sure to compare apples to apples here. Clarify issues like the vesting period of stock options.

B. Benefits: Consider both tangible benefits, like healthcare and in-house daycare, and intangible ones, like an enjoyable place to work. Wherever possible, try to attach dollar values to benefits so you will be comparing apples to apples.

C. Hours: How important is flex time or being home for dinner?

D. Time off: Is it important to be able to work part-time and take summers off?

E. Commute: How long will it take, and how much will it cost? Can you get there without a car?

F. Interesting tasks or subject matter: Can you use your skills in your new position? Will you be involved in a field that interests you?

G. Advancement possibilities: Are there good opportunities to move up and increase your earnings?

H. Organizational culture: Is the company staid and focused on traditional ways, or is it open and progressive? Which is better for you?

I. Coworkers: Are they the kind of people with whom you want to spend your days?

J. Company reputation: Is the organization well-respected and known for quality work and good management?

K. Industry future: The biotechnology field may be a good bet, but carbon paper probably is not.

L. Personal values: Does the company contribute to the community, make environmentally sound products and provide useful services?

M. Family-friendly environment: Is it easy to keep in touch with your children during the day? Can you attend important school events?

3. Place your top six work needs in priority order on the chart's vertical axis.

4. Along the top of the horizontal axis, note the two jobs you are considering; below each one place a plus sign, minus sign and a question mark.

5. Starting with your most important work need, fill in the plus block for each job with a number from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest). Then add up the numbers to see which job has the highest score.

Always keep in mind that the most important element in career decisions is to thoroughly know yourself and your needs. What may look good to someone else may be a disaster for you.

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