It can be extremely tempting to focus solely on salary when evaluating job offers. After all, who doesn’t want more money?
Big dollar signs can be quite mesmerizing, but relying on salary alone when making your decision can be a costly mistake.
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So, how do you approach this critical stage of evaluating an offer?
First, answer some key questions: What do you want? What do you hope to achieve? What are your priorities? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to accept an offer that doesn’t align with your needs, yet too often, candidates (especially veterans) jump at the first job offer they receive.
It is important to approach this process by first reflecting on what you need and whether the offer meets all, or at least a majority, of those needs.
Ensure you are evaluating the full compensation package rather than just looking at salary. It is a common rookie mistake to assume the offer with the highest salary is the best deal. There are many other important considerations.
For example, what does the company offer in its employee retirement plan? The percentage of employer match (how much the employer contributes toward your retirement account) can make a significant difference in the overall value of two competing offers. How much vacation time is being offered? What about employee benefits?
It is in your best interests to have a clear understanding about what is being offered. The company’s HR team should be willing to answer any questions you have about the details of the compensation package during the negotiation process.
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Also, consider important factors about the job itself, such as the type of work you will be doing. Just because you may be good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be happy doing it. What about the commute? Is it close to home or extraordinarily long? While you may initially be willing to make a long, ugly commute through heinous traffic, but will that still be true four months in?
Does the job entail travel, and if so, how much? What’s your tolerance for being away from home 25% of the time? What about half the time?
Once you leave the military, you have more control over your working conditions and can actually embrace the concept of work/life balance. Do the job responsibilities allow you to take up a long-deferred hobby if you want? Or will you periodically (or routinely) work nights and weekends? These are considerations that may impact the attractiveness of even the most generous of salary offers.
Gather Good Intel
How do you determine the answers to these questions in advance of accepting an offer?
You can learn a lot during the interview process itself. At the conclusion of the interviewers’ questions, you should be given an opportunity to ask your own. Reflect on areas that can provide insight on the more intangible aspects of the job, such as what a typical workday looks like, or what the interviewers themselves like (or don’t like) about working at the company. Listen carefully, but also pay attention to their body language during their responses -- it can say a lot.
If the interview didn't clear things up, use your network! Your contacts can help reveal almost anything you’d like to know about a particular company, such as tyrant bosses, poor work environment, toxic culture, frustrated employees, desirable perks, and career progression opportunities.
Doing your homework in advance will go a long way toward helping you make the right decision when the time comes! MOAA’s career transition specialists can help. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more!
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