A job offer is always exciting, but it’s especially so today with the economic recession slowing hiring opportunities and tightening competition.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs. If you’re unemployed, you may not feel like you have a choice other than to accept the first opportunity that comes your way. Above all, you should make the decision that makes the most sense for the well-being of you and your family. And if you’re unemployed or under-employed, it’s important to stay positive, network consistently, and continue developing your skills while searching for work.
Here are six factors that can help determine if a job offer is right for your career, your wallet, and your overall happiness.
1. Compare the benefits
The new position may pay more in wages than your current job, but if the benefits plan is less valuable than your current plan, switching jobs may not be worth it. Check whether the health plan offers comprehensive coverage for you and your family and how the 401(k) or pension plan compares to what you have now. Also weigh how policies on paid sick leave, family leave, and vacation time might affect you and your loved ones. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing more people to work from home, consider if the company offers a stipend for a home office setup. The new job doesn’t have to be better across all criteria—just the ones most important to you.
2. Negotiate your salary—but know your worth first
If the number you’re offered doesn’t align with your expectations, don’t be afraid to open a dialogue about it. Research salary trends within your industry and across similar positions. Then, explain why you deserve what you’re asking for. The Harvard Business Review recommends telling the story that justifies your ask,1 like your years of experience, results you’ve achieved, or skills you’ve mastered. But if you don’t have reasons to back up your argument, it may not be wise to make that demand just yet. And remember: salary negotiations are a dialogue. Be flexible, but remain firm on the things that are most important to you.
3. Talk to current employees about culture
Ask to speak with employees who would be on your team. This is one of the best ways to get a sense of your future work environment and vibe. Find out how leadership works with employees in your position, how departments within the company communicate with one another, and how your department is viewed by the rest of the company. If the position seems undervalued, you may want to think twice about taking the job. Don’t be afraid to inquire about the frustrations of working there as much as the positives.
4. Ask about company values, and know your own
Lots of research has gone into how our environment affects our happiness, and our work environment is no different. If a person mostly agreed with the values of their company, they tended to be happier at work.2 At Truist, we believe that the more you can align your career path with your personal values, the happier you’ll be every day. Ask yourself, “Would I be a good fit in the company culture?” “How do I feel about the social impact of what they offer?” “Do my values match their purpose?” Your happiness is not something to be overlooked. It should be a factor as important as the salary in how you respond to the offer.
5. Take a long-term view
Always keep your long-term goals top of mind. Your offer may be for an ideal position with a higher salary than your current one, but if there isn’t room for learning and advancement at the company, it may not be such a perfect fit after a year or two. Having more opportunities for growth at your current job may tilt the odds toward staying put. Remember also that much of your day-to-day happiness, and your ability to work toward your long-term goals, will depend on how you work with your boss and others in management.
6. Relocate wisely
Moving for a job is a big task, especially if you have a family that would have to move, too. Consider whether the company would cover your relocation expenses, and start looking at the new area you would live in. Does it have good schools? What is the cost of living? Are there amenities you and your family would enjoy? Both personal and financial factors go into the decision to relocate, so take time to consider what relocation would involve before you respond to the offer.
A new job can bring you many good things, like increased income, new skills, learning opportunities, and a growing network. But ultimately, your decision should be based on whether or not the position will be rewarding—personally as well as financially. The right career is the perfect mix of personal interests, skills, compensation, and the chance to do what you love every day.