Evaluating Job Offers: How to Decide If a Company Is Right for You
- What You’ll Learn
- Outlining What’s Important to You
- Common Criteria
- Career Growth
- Creating a Decision Matrix
- Doing Your Research
- Researching Stability
- Researching Career Growth Potential
- Researching Enjoyment
- Researching Passion
- Researching Compensation Packages
- Preparing Interview Questions
- Making a Decision
- Key Takeaways
- About the Author
If you’re nearing the finish line of a job search, you’re approaching a big life decision. Where you work will have a huge impact on your quality of life, both now and in the future. So how do you decide which offer to choose and whether you will be happy in the new role you’ve been offered? In this article, you’ll learn how to identify what’s important to you, then use those values to evaluate job offers and decide which one is the right choice for you.
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What You’ll Learn
- How to refine your feelings and goals around work into a quantifiable list of job criteria.
- Practical ways of evaluating job offers to determine whether an opportunity aligns with your criteria.
Outlining What’s Important to You
In this section, you’ll work on an exercise to assess what’s most important to you and distill the result into a handful of criteria. By the end, you’ll have a written list of concrete guidelines for weighing job offers. (Feel free to skip this section if you already have a list.)
You might have a pretty good idea about what’s important to you in a job. You probably have a mental list of things you hated and loved about past jobs. But while you have a general sense of what makes a good job, you might not be able to quantify and weigh everything that fed that sense.
When faced with job offers, your emotions can drown out a logical analysis of the options. You may get caught up in the money or excitement about the product, for example, without realizing that what really makes you happy in a job is the people you work with or the flexibility to innovate. While you’re still thinking analytically, take some time to actively explore what’s important to you.
Start by creating a list of factors that feed into your job satisfaction. Try asking yourself: What…
- …did you like about your past jobs? What did you dislike?
- …do you need from your job?
- …makes you happy?
- …will help you continue your desired career path?
Cover things that impact how much you enjoy your work and how your job helps you achieve your life goals. Be sure to explore the nice-to-haves as well as things you absolutely want to avoid. At this stage, nothing is too big or small to include.
Spend time reflecting on what you’ve written. The list will likely continue to grow as you let it process. Take the time you need to feel confident you’ve covered everything that’s most important to you.
Once you have a list you feel good about, roll the items up into a few high-level criteria. These criteria represent the major influences on your job satisfaction, and you’ll learn to use them when weighing a job opportunity.
Here’s a high-level criteria example (“Innovation”) with the list of enjoyable things that fed into it:
- I love architecting new apps from scratch.
- I have the most fun implementing features with new APIs after WWDC.
- My favorite project in the past year was building a prototype to explore an emerging technology.
- I don’t like the constraints of working on apps that support back more than two major iOS releases.
The next section will cover some common job satisfaction factors that might give you more ideas for your list.
Now, you’ll tap directly into the brain of a software developer trying to get to sleep the night before resigning from their current job. If you relate to the worries their mind is coming up with, add them to your list! You’ll continue exploring these criteria in future sections, planning your way to a worry-free sleep.
“What if the company isn’t ready for a recession, and I end up laid off in a few months?”
Change can be stressful. A 2022 study by the American Psychological Association showed job stability as one of the top ten stressors for adults. In a time of economic turmoil, with layoffs heavily impacting tech companies, many consider stability a top criterion for their job search.
Lack of stability can also present as constantly shifting priorities, changing technology decisions and reorganizations. All of these result in uncertainty, which can be frustrating if you’re not in the right mindset for it.
If this is important, it will likely impact the type of companies you apply to. A decades-old finance company is going to offer more stability than a tech startup. A permanent placement is going to offer more consistency than a contract position.
“What if I get stuck in this role for a few years, and my career path stagnates?”
Every job presents a different set of opportunities and limitations for growth. Finding the best environment to grow depends on the stage of your career and your desired path. If you’re early in your career and want strong mentors to help you grow technically, a larger team with senior coworkers could be great. If you’re midway into your career and looking to break into management, a more junior team might present the best opportunities for you to demonstrate your leadership abilities.
A new job offer might include a promotion, or it might feel like a reset after having spent a few years in the same role. You might be anxious about proving yourself all over again to new leadership or uncertain about how the career paths work in practice at a new company.
The work itself has a huge impact on your personal growth. Stepping outside of your comfort zone with a new tech stack or a different role can stretch your skills and accelerate your career journey. On the flip side, if you felt stuck in your prior position, getting a similar role in a similar organization might not be helpful in getting you unstuck.