Nobody writes about how to determine if an offer is the right offer. It isn’t always as simple as money, title or, even, opportunity. Offers have to be evaluated in the context. of your career, your situation and your goals.
Of course money and opportunity may be important, but what is most important is your career plan. Everyone needs one and everyone should have one. If you don’t have a plan for yourself, your career may be doomed to mediocrity. To put it differently, if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never know when you have arrived. I have seen too many people simply move for money or title, only to find themselves dead-ended because, in the long-run (sometimes even in the short-run), the job got them nowhere.
I recently had a candidate who was in a dead-end job get a great job offer, which could have made her career take off again. She turned it down because of money. It was a bad decision. This job would have ultimately gotten her the money she wanted and it would have put her on a great career track. She spent so much time “running the numbers” and overthinking the benefits (including vacation days) that she completely missed the opportunity.
In April this year, I wrote about “One Way to Evaluate a Job Offer”. I want to go beyond that one way now. The entire context of an offer is critical. Here are some ways to evaluate an offer and put it into the proper framework:
1. What are your career goals?
Will this job put you a step closer to achieving what you are striving for?
2. What experience do you need to achieve those goals?
You must evaluate your current and past jobs and make a list of the things you need in order to advance your career. Those are the things you should seek while you are interviewing.
3. What will the new job give you that you do not have now?
(See the link to the prior post, above) This follows number 2, above.
4. Why do you want to leave your current job and will the new job truly satisfy those needs?
Some people are in such a hurry to leave their current job that they forget to examine the new culture to make sure it is not a duplicate of what they already have. And, of course, never accept a counter offer.
5. Will you have or be able to get a mentor in your new job?
Everyone needs a mentor. Those without them have a much harder time achieving their career goals. Someone senior who can believe in you will be able to insure that your career progresses.
6. Will you have management visibility in your new job?
Having a mentor is important. But making sure that you are seen and known by the senior management of your company is critical to success. You want to be sure your job is visible to management.
7. What is your likelihood of advancement in this job and what would the timetable be for promotions?
This is an important question to ask while interviewing. It will put your expectations in proper perspective.
8. How have previous people in this job fared?
There are some jobs that are “career makers”. (In the sixties and seventies, Compton Advertising, the forerunner to Saatchi & Saatchi used to send its chosen people to Ace Compton, their agency in the Philippines. At least four agency presidents that I know of came out of there and anyone else who went there, became a major player.)
9. Why do they want to hire you as opposed to anyone else?
This will help you to evaluate what you have to do in order to succeed. In other words, you will know their expectations of you.
10. How do the people you will be working with compare to those you currently work with.
Even if the job you are considering is a lateral move financially, you want to be sure that you are gaining in terms of who you will be working for and with.
I know of a creative director who, as a recent college graduate, got a job at a fairly mundane creative agency. While the experience was good, she was unable to do the kind of work she wanted and that satisfied her creativity. She couldn’t find the kind of job she wanted in New York City. So, she evaluated her options and took her second job at a creative agency outside of New York. It was not for much more money, but it gave her the training and creativity she sought. The ECD she went to work for was well known and fabulous. That move, for only a year, propelled her career ahead so that she was able to get the job she wanted in New York City and subsequently, she become a major creative director at a great agency.
The point of telling this story is that she had a plan, she knew what she needed in order to accomplish her own expectations and the move outside New York enabled her to accomplish her goals.