A great problem to have
September 1, 2008 4:34 AM   Subscribe

What factors do you look at when considering multiple, simultaneous job offers?

By the middle of this week, I expect to have two job offers in hand. Both are professional, full-time, white collar, mid-career positions. I’m trying to figure out how to best compare the two offers, as well as the two organizations and positions, and I’m assembling a spreadsheet to do just that.

What are some of the factors that you have considered when looking at jobs and job offers? I’m looking for both normal items (“Salary?”) as well as things that might be a bit out of left field (“Do they offer free massages on Friday afternoons in the summer?”). Items I already have fall along the lines of:

- Salary, benefits, etc.
- Reputation of the organization in the marketplace
- Likely next step in my career after this one
- Commuting costs, parking costs, etc.

What others ways can I compare them? What pros and cons have you looked at in the past?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Work & Money (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Drug testing (even if you don't partake) tells you a lot about the corporate mentality.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:41 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Consider carefully for each job offer: how chagrined would you be if you hadn't gotten the offer? The one you really want to take is the one you would miss the most if it wasn't available. It's only one factor among many, but this mental exercise can be surprising.
posted by mindsound at 4:55 AM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

I was faced with this 2 years ago. The deciding factor was location, and the instinctual feel I got about the companies from the interviews. I had a couple of hours to decide. One was more interesting and better aligned with my skill set, but I chose the other since it was closer, more casual and friendly, and just had a better feel about it. Then they didn't give me enough work to do, despite being a good company to work for. I ultimately quit due to the lack of work, staring at a screen, trying to look busy, is no way to spend 8 hours a day. Maybe I should have gone with the other offer.

If you have an offer already, and the time, try to get a tour and introduction to the people you'd potentially be working with. If you're spending most of your day there, and with these people, it's worth it to take a more in depth look at the environment. Salary, benefits, etc are just numbers. It's more important whether you'd enjoy working there.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 4:55 AM on September 1, 2008

Your gut feeling about the company.
Your gut feeling about your immediate boss, assuming you met him/her at the interview.
Likelihood of unpaid overtime.
Dress code
posted by emilyw at 4:56 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's important to consider relative salary, rather than just the numbers. For instance, which is better, a job that is a rock-solid 40 hours a week and pays $60k, or a job with lots of spikes in hours that averages 70 hours a week but pays £120k.

The absolutist answer is that $120k is always going to be better - imagine what you could do with all that money!

However, you're going to be working nearly half again as many hours, so in a given year, your hourly rate is going to be out $35 an hour, whereas the first job is $30. You'll work twice as hard, for five bucks an hour more. It may seem counterintuitive or even 'unprofessional' to think of things in 'dollars per hour' terms, but it's an important tool in figuring out if changes in absolute income are worth it in relative terms.

Myself, I went from a 70-90 hour week at my last employer to a reasonably steady 40-50 hour week at my current role. If I'd stayed at my previous employer, I'd probably be earning about 1/3rd again as much as I do, but working twice as hard, away from home, and really not enjoying myself much.

The money people pay you is for your time first, and your skills and experience second. Figure out how much your time is worth to you, then choose who you sell it to and for how much accordingly.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:04 AM on September 1, 2008

How long is the job going to last? Is this a job for a lifetime or the next few years? What's your time horizon, and your long-term career plan?

You have the luxury to think about the long-term here; which company and which position is the best fit for your long-term plans?
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:27 AM on September 1, 2008

Look at how they "grow" their staff, in the sense, of paying for training, certification and or adanced education. Do not go to a job that is not willing to help you get new skills or keep your skill set fresh. A question that may seem odd to ask is this, do you see anyone who would be a good mentor for you in your future career arc? Again, a reflection of the culture.

What everyone else upthread mentions are valid as well. Do not underestimate the corporate culture or the people that you are going to be your co-workers.

In regards to benefits, yeah, run the run the numbers and the retirement numbers in particular.
posted by jadepearl at 5:33 AM on September 1, 2008

0ooh- I actually have a draft of the same question in Notepad, except that I'm a new college grad in software engineering. So I would like to piggyback on this question - is there anything I should look at differently to a mid-career worker? Or that I haven't thought of yet?
posted by jacalata at 5:43 AM on September 1, 2008

I'd talk to employees, preferably long-term ones.
posted by rokusan at 5:44 AM on September 1, 2008

* Interesting work.
* Ethics - I wouldn't want a job where we ripped off customers with crap products while polluting and being anticompetitive.
* Work environment litmus tests - How long does it take to get a broken computer fixed? Is it a PITA to get things like stationary?
* Work environment directly - Air conditioned? Personal office? Nice views? Open plan? Noisy or quiet?
* Company stability - is the company in good shape financially?
* Travel costs if fuel prices rise; support for cycling etc.
* Time off/sick pay/paternity policies.
* Precise contract terms, e.g. non compete clauses.
posted by Mike1024 at 6:26 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ownership structure, and if applicable, owner personality.

Is it corporate, or is the company owned by one guy or a few investors? I've found some people thrive in different types of ownership environment.

Single-owner companies, especially when they're new, can suffer from "entrepreneuritis." If the owner is mercurial, you might find yourself changing direction rapidly with no warning. Some people dig that, some don't.
posted by generichuman at 6:29 AM on September 1, 2008

Figure out how much your time is worth to you, then choose who you sell it to and for how much accordingly.

Happy Dave nailed it. Whether you'll like each job or company is essentially unpredictable (I'm assuming there are not clear reasons why one job would be unbearable and the other wouldn't), so you should maximize earnings. I'm not saying to maximize cash compensation, but rather maximize the value to you (e.g., you have to pay me significantly more per hour of commuting than you do per hour of work, and my price is very high to work in a crappy desk chair). Figure out the monetary value of each job offer and choose the one that pays more per hour (after negotiating with both companies, of course).
posted by backupjesus at 6:32 AM on September 1, 2008

This is obviously a great position to be in.

Here's my list:

1) The compensation, and compensation growth potential
2) If you work at company A or B, can you see the route to a promotion?
3) Company health/structure/size. Is it a big company or a small company? Which do you prefer?
4) Who will you be working with? Hopefully during the interview process, you've gotten to know them.
5) What do you want to be doing? Which offer is most like that?
posted by Pants! at 7:24 AM on September 1, 2008

Oh, I forgot to mention: Go to the company that you like the least and ask for a counter offer, regardless of whether it is the highest or the lowest offer. Tell them what you'd like to be making, even. Then you can use that offer with the other two to say that "Company C is offering me this, and I really want to work with you, but can you at least match this?"
posted by Pants! at 7:27 AM on September 1, 2008

Beware of "cute" perks like massages, video games, fancy coffee machines, etc. These things are:

- Usually an indicator that employees are expected to work extra long hours.
- They're usually the first thing that gets axed as soon as there's any sign of a revenue hiccup.
- Traps.

Also, do you know if each job has a clear promotion path within the company? A sweet-sounding job isn't so sweet if it's a dead-end.
posted by mkultra at 7:32 AM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

Commute and the corporate philosophy on things like project crunches and overtime and carrying your blackberry while you're on vacation are two big factor that aren't reflected in the salary offer.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:49 AM on September 1, 2008

If there is not an obvious choice, bid them against each other.

Call up company A, and say, "Company A, I'd like to say yes, but Company B is offering me this." And then call up company B and say the same thing (mutatis mutandi).

Whichever one shows the greater interest in YOU and goes the longest to meet you, is the one to pick.
posted by three blind mice at 8:18 AM on September 1, 2008

I agree about commute and location. Meeting potential coworkers, walking through the office space to check out the buzz and the general repair of furniture and equipment and (however daft this sounds) seeing where I will be sitting are important to me too. it amazes me how many people take job offers without seeing if they'll be spending the next year in the basement or beside the toilets!
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:20 AM on September 1, 2008

The people: Do other people look happy? Did you get a chance to spend some time with your future supervisor (if not, I think it's fair to ask)

Work environment: Dress code might not be the most critical thing in the world, but it can tell you a bit about how the boss thinks.
posted by meta_eli at 10:10 AM on September 1, 2008

"Do something you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life" - John Lennon.
posted by docmccoy at 10:21 AM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]

To me, the most important thing, all other things being relatively equal, is your new coworkers. Get a sense for who you'd be working with - do you get along with them? Do they share some of your traits (similar senses of humor, similar dedication to success, etc)? There probably won't be an "exact fit", because of the sheer number of people involved, but if you can narrow down which office seems like it'd be more fun/interesting/rewarding to spend 8-9 hrs a day in every day, that's the direction I would go.

Ignore perks like free soda/coffee and massages and the like - they're irrelevant.
posted by pdb at 10:59 AM on September 1, 2008

The most important thing I've seen is the quality of the interviewers, and their quantity. If a company put two or three really smart people to interview you, and they made their decision reasonably quick, join them. Interview processes tend to mirror the company's core DNA. If they put you through 7 rounds with okayish folks, then that's the kind of place where important decisions get made in a month and others get deferred until they become irrelevant.
posted by kgb4pl at 3:35 PM on September 1, 2008

As Tolstoy said, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Every dysfunctional company is unhappy in its own way.
In some companies, at least a third of your time goes to defensive tactics, currying favor with higher-ups, or trying to find out "what is really going on." In some companies, that is the ONLY thing you do!!!
It's a rare and wonderful place where you can actually focus on your primary job assignments.
posted by ohshenandoah at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

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