Making your decision

Choosing which job to accept is really a lot like the process you went through to select a college. You should make a grid showing the factors that will affect your decision. These could include salary, location, benefits, type of work, work colleagues, work environment, type of industry, opportunities for advancement, potential to travel, need to relocate and anything else that matters to you. Mark the items as "musts" and "wants" to differentiate what you can't live without and what would simply be nice to have. This list will give you a more objective way of comparing different job offers.

If you've received an offer or two but you aren't through interviewing with other prospective employers, be sure to explain that to the firms that have offered you a job. Call the person who offered you the job and politely explain that you are excited about the offer on the table but you want to be thoughtful about this very important decision and have not finished your exploration of options yet. Ask how long they can wait for an answer and honor their request.

Comparing salaries and benefits

Though it may sound strange, the highest salary isn't always the best offer. For instance, a lower salary in a smaller city could actually net you more than a higher salary in a large city. Considering offers from different cities? Here are some factors to consider. In addition to salary, benefits can add quite a bit to your bottom line. In fact, benefits can be worth as much as 30% of your salary. Here are some benefits to consider:

  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Vacation days and holidays
  • Pension plans
  • Flexible spending plans
  • Flex time
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Accidental death insurance
  • Optical/eye care insurance
  • Sick days
  • Savings plan
  • Bonus/profit sharing
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Van pools
  • Salary extension for short-term illness
  • Personal days
  • 401K plans
  • Overtime/comp time
  • Day care/elder care programs
  • Outplacement programs in the event of a reduction in force

Should you negotiate your salary or say yes to the offer on the table? While there are many points about an offer that can be negotiated (position, responsibilities, vacation, benefits, start date, etc.), salary is usually the primary issue. Salary negotiation can be very risky. Any counter offer that you make can invalidate the original offer...it is possible that the offer could be rescinded. It is well to remember that companies may have a very tight schedule for entry level offers. If you have extraordinary educational or work experience, you may be able to stretch the upper limit slightly. If not, they may be able to offer an alternative in the way of bonuses, guaranteed overtime, etc.

When discussing salary, talk in terms of what you're hoping for, rather than what you expect. Talk about those extraordinary educational or work experiences that you have to offer the company. NEVER talk about your personal needs, bills or budgets.

In the end you may only be able to negotiate a promise of future salary increases or bonuses. If so, be sure that you get it in writing. If you have any questions at all about negotiating your offer, see a Career Services professional.