Evaluating your job offer — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

It’s getting to be the time of the semester when soon-to-be-graduates will be receiving job offers. Recipients are typically thrilled to see that their job search might actually be over. Yet, the serious document, which sometimes contains unfamiliar terminology, often causes anxiety. Students wonder what should they ask, say or do, before they sign and accept the offer.

Hopefully, you have chosen to apply to companies because you are genuinely interested in what they do. Throughout the interview process, you have learned about the organization and the industry. You have studied the financial health of the company. You are familiar with their history, mission and goals, as well as their corporate structure including divisions, locations, subsidiaries and knowledge of competitors.

You have asked questions (and gotten answers) about the position. You have a good idea of what you will be doing and to whom you will be reporting. You know where the position fits in the organizational chart. You have discussed possible next steps from this starting point.

Just as important as studying the company is self-reflection. You need to know what is important to you! Be aware of your own personal values. Know the things that are non-negotiable. (If you are anti-war, you do not want to be working in defense. If you are committed to saving the environment, you want to be employed by a company that shares this value.)

Study the job offer carefully to determine the “total compensation” vs. “starting salary.” Consider health insurance (coverage and cost), 401 (k) plan and company match, tuition benefit, vacation and sick time, annual salary increases, bonuses and/or profit sharing, flexible work schedules, telecommuting, relocation allowance, wellness programs, company laptop/cell phone, stock options, dress code, mentorship and volunteering. Some of these will be more important to you than others, based on life situations and personal preferences.

Make a list of all your questions. It is totally appropriate to request a phone appointment to discuss the offer letter. You want to make sure that you understand all of the details. If you are still feeling uncertain about the offer, you can schedule an appointment for further discussion with one of the professional staff members. You’ve worked hard to earn your degree. Make sure that your first professional position is the one you want.

Joyce Donahue is a Certified Career Counselor who works in the Fulton Schools Career Center.