Don’t Accept a Job Until You Identify Your Priorities

There’s nothing more exciting than receiving a job offer. But that excitement is often mixed with anxiety and apprehension. What if you make the wrong decision?

To ease your nerves and make the decision process less emotional, use an objective assessment to evaluate what’s important to you in a job. That will ensure you make the best decision for your career and happiness.

Before you even start applying for new jobs, list what you are looking for. It’s OK if money is on the top of your list, but don’t stop there. Here are more categories and criteria you’ll want to consider:

The Company

— number of employees

— financial status

— leadership style

— policies, processes and procedures that establish how it functions

— how it holds true to its mission, vision and overall integrity

The Job

— job duties and how much you would enjoy them

— how you would spend your day

— how many meetings or events you would be expected to attend

— the reporting relationships of the job

— how your boss would measure success

[Read: What Am I Worth at Work?]

Career Potential

If you haven’t given much thought about your future, imagine where you want to be three to five years from now and how your next job can help you get there. Is there an opportunity for advancement and does the company offer tuition reimbursement?

Research examples of employees who have been successful attaining promotions and support for additional education. While company leaders may say they promote from within, there may not be enough roles for you to move up and into.

Working Hours and Flexibility

— What are the real hours your potential colleagues work versus the published start and end times?

— Would you be required to be on call or work overtime?

— Does the company allow employees to work remotely or offer flexibility in the work schedule?

Total Compensation

Evaluate the benefits, such as:

— quality and cost of health insurance

— number of days for vacation and sick leave

— availability of retirement plans

— life and disability insurance

All of these can represent up to a third of your compensation package.
Don’t forget to think about commuting time, whether you’d have to relocate, the costs of parking and child care and other perks and expenses.

[See: Best Business Jobs.]

Create a comparison chart.

You may have thought making a list of pros and cons would do the trick. That’s not a bad place to start, but you’ll want to be more objective in your evaluation. This is where a comparison chart comes in to play.

To create your chart, first rank the criteria you identified as important and write them down the left side of a page or spreadsheet. Next, across the top of the page, list your current job title in the first column and the job you are evaluating in the next column.

For each job, rate how well it meets the criteria you listed down the left side of the page using a simple one to five scale, where one is poor and five equals a perfect match.

If you are honest about how you evaluated each role, one job should have a higher overall score and the decision should be clear. In the case of a tie, look at how each job ranked for your top three job criteria.

Creating this list of what’s important to you in a new position before a job interview allows you to ask questions relevant to your requirements throughout the interview process. By the time you receive an offer, you should have almost all the information you need to make an educated decision.

[See: 6 Side Jobs to Make Extra Money.]

Be ready to negotiate.

Before you make your final decision, consider which criteria you may want to negotiate. For most mid- to high-level roles, it’s expected you will attempt to negotiate the terms of your offer. And if you really want the job but it didn’t score high enough on your comparison chart, this is your chance to try to tip the scale.

During your negotiation, you can also evaluate how the company responds. If the company cannot meet the terms you are asking for, how did they handle it? Were they empathetic or hard-nosed toward your requests? How did they follow up with you during the negotiation process? This is just one more way to determine if this is a company you would want to work for.

Politely give your answer.

Finally, when you are ready to deliver your answer, either accepting or rejecting the offer, be polite and always follow the instructions provided. Respond by the deadline provided and in the requested format (written or verbal). If you choose to reject the offer, explain why the offer isn’t right for you at this time. Be truthful. You may want to keep the door open for future opportunities with that employer.

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Don’t Accept a Job Until You Identify Your Priorities originally appeared on usnews.com