Weighing two separate job offers can seem like an embarrassment of riches. In today’s job-starved economy, the prospect of having your choice between two positions is a rare and enviable position.
But there’s also an element of anxiety with choosing between two offers. One could be the job of your dreams, and the other could be a short-lived stint in hell. So how can you tell the difference between the two?
Compensation and Benefits
It’s easy to look at two salaries and decide to take the job with the highest one. But that’s not giving you the full picture. Compensation can include bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, pension and other monetary benefits. Add these up to get a real idea of the total salaries.
After you’ve compared the salaries, the second step is to examine the benefits packages. These can include vacation days and holidays, sick days, healthcare, retirement plan, tuition reimbursement and other perks.
Health insurance is one of the most important to compare, since costs can vary wildly. Check out the premiums and deductibles first and then see if either plan offers dental or vision coverage (these could make a big difference in how much you pay). Depending on your health, those could be major factors in how much money you take home.
Paid time off is also a deciding factor for many. Earning more money is great, but not if you only get 10 vacation days a year (compared to 21 days at another job). Does the company have a policy of increasing your vacation time over the years? How long do you hope to be at this company? These are all important questions to consider in how you value the vacation policy offered.
Driving to and from work is ranked as one of the worst parts of anyone’s day. No matter how great a job is, a long commute can kill the joy of a new position. Plus, being far away from home can make it difficult to run errands during lunch, make it to your morning workout and get home in time to let the dog out. Be realistic with yourself about how much time you can spend on the road and still be able to walk through your front door at the end of the work day with some energy to spare.
Not only does a long commute expend your own energy, driving a long way will also cost more money and put more wear and tear on your car. You can use GasBuddy’s trip calculator to compare how much you’d spend in fuel costs between each job and see if the amount is significant.
Finding out the company culture before you start working is much harder than figuring out what the bonus structure is, but it could end up being more important.
Talk to other employees and ask them the following questions:
- Is it permissible to take a sick day or do employees fight the flu to get to work?
- Are you allowed to work from home occasionally?
- Is vacation time sacred or does your boss expect to reach you at all times?
Even a job with great benefits and a high salary could become your worst nightmare if you’re supposed to sleep with your phone on and respond to urgent texts on weekends.
Other Things to Take into Account
Once you’ve done the research for the factors listed above, here are some other questions to consider:
- Does the company support and pay for employee training such as classes, conferences, etc.?
- Is there room for advancement?
- Have there been any layoffs recently?
- How easy is it to start new projects and take risks?
- Do people frequently work overtime?
- Can you create your schedule or are you expected to work when everyone else does?
- Is the company well-respected in the industry?
- Are there frequent business trips?
- Will you have direct access to the higher ups or is there a lot of bureaucracy?
The last step – and probably the most important – is to choose confidently. No matter which offer you decide on, it’s crucial to remove as much doubt as possible from the process.
Once you’ve made your choice, your happiness and satisfaction is going to have more to do with your attitude than the job itself. If you’re constantly asking “what if,” you’ll find yourself fantasizing about an alternate reality that doesn’t exist. Even if your new job isn’t everything you expected, it’s important to remember that the other job could have been even worse.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Debt Free After Three.