job offer

How Do I Choose Between Two Job Offers?

iStockphoto.com |  SIphotography

iStockphoto.com | SIphotography

You’ve slogged through a competitive interview process at multiple companies and you’re ready for the job offers to start rolling in. Even better, you’ve been told you’re a finalist with two employers. Company A (we’ll call them Beam Me Up, Inc.) is a start-up developing the first teleportation machine, while Company B (We Make Flying Cars, Inc.) makes the most popular flying cars in the world. Great choices, right? It’s a great situation to have – how should you handle the multiple companies vying for your talents, and how do you decide which is the right for you? 

Consider the following scenarios: 

Scenario 1 – You receive an offer from the Beam Me Up, Inc., which is clearly your first choice. Many people use a situation like this to see if they can wrangle a better deal by pitting the two offers against each other. Think carefully before engaging this approach – the outcome of such negotiations can be unpredictable and might even work against you if it feeds a perception that you’re trying to incite a bidding war. If the offer comes up short of your expectations, you’re certainly well within your rights to try to sweeten the deal, and taking a collaborative approach with the person who extended the offer (something like, “I’d love to see if we can get to yes, I’d love to work with you!”) can help. If, on the other hand, the offer fell squarely within your expectations, it could very well be in your best interest to accept the offer outright and end your interviews with We Make Flying Cars, Inc. Start off on a positive note.

Scenario 2 – You receive an offer from We Make Flying Cars, Inc. (your second choice). But you really, REALLY want an offer from Beam Me Up, Inc. (your clear first choice). This is a delicate dance. You don’t want to settle too early on a company that, while perhaps great in its own right, is still your runner-up. Here are some steps you can take to move the process along.

Step 1: Align your expectations with We Make Flying Cars, Inc. who extended the job offer, to see if you can buy some additional time. You need to this in as collaborative and professional a manner as possible; keep it simple, thankful, and reasonable. Reach out to Human Resources and say, “Thank you very much for your offer. I do have some other factors to consider. May I have a little extra time to talk to my family and make a decision?” Then gauge the situation carefully. They may or may not be willing to extend your deadline, so proceed accordingly. Missing a hard deadline could result in a withdrawn offer.

Step 2: Reach out to the Human Resources department of Beam Me Up, Inc. to see if you can give the process a nudge. Be direct and honest. For example, “I just wanted to let you know that I received an offer from another company, but Beam Me Up is still my first choice. I believe the work you’re doing is more challenging and rewarding, and that I am an ideal cultural fit. Were the company to make an offer in the range we discussed, I would happily accept it. I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you!” The wheels of corporate bureaucracy move slowly, but a call like this can provide the essential momentum.

 

3. You receive simultaneous job offers from both companies and you have no clear preference. Make no mistake, receiving two competing offers puts you in an advantageous bargaining position and certainly provides a nice ego boost. You are indeed in a prime position to lure the two employers into a bidding war.

That said, rather than risk your good fortune and potentially jeopardize your relationship with each employer by trying to sweeten the pot, it may be better to compare each offer on its own merit and make a decision accordingly. Consider the following factors:

 

  • The Work Itself. Which role will be the most rewarding, and will help you achieve your long-term career goals? Don’t just look at the job title, since these may mean different things at different companies. Focus on the specifics of the job description, and the specific work experience and skills you will gain. We devote most of our waking hours to work – maximize the ROI on your precious time with a fulfilling career.

  • Total Compensation. The salary figure presented by an employer is almost always the primary consideration, but compensation is much, much more than just salary. Total compensation can include medical insurance, paid time off, bonuses, 401k matches, employee discounts, car allowances, and other benefits. Run the numbers – a job that pays a high base salary but makes you pay for the bulk of your medical expenses out-of-pocket or gives you minimal vacation time may be a bad deal in disguise.

  • Company Culture. Where are you going to going to feel good heading to work every day? Which employer shares your professional values? Even if all other factors of their offers are equal, company cultures and work environments – even in the same industry – can dramatically different. And don’t forget to factor in work/life balance. Get as much information as possible.

 

Once you’ve worked through the details and compared the offers, proceed carefully. Beam Me Up, Inc. and We Make Flying Cars, Inc. both believe you are lucky to get an offer from them. If you try to negotiate with the companies and come across as demanding, unreasonable, or ungrateful, or if you appear to be fostering a competition, an employer may believe their offer was a mistake and consider withdrawing it – especially if they feel like they are being played off against each other. Have your salary market data ready (pay a visit to compensation site paysa.com), do your homework, and be reasonable in your request. If you’re already being offered a compensation package above the market average, requests for more may not be well received; the converse is also true, where if you do your homework and discover you’re being offered below market average, you may have room to negotiate and improve your standing. But it’s still a precarious situation.

If Beam Me Up offers you $5,000 less than We Make Flying Cars, and you ask Beam Me Up to match their offer, you must be prepared to accept the revised offer if they meet your request. A back-and-forth between yourself and both companies will only engender ill will and may result in no offers to choose from. Keep in mind that how you handle the negotiation will be a reflection of your integrity.

Philip Roufail contributed to this article.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

We're All Replaceable – Are You Ready?

iStockphoto.com |  nytumbleweeds

iStockphoto.com | nytumbleweeds

I once read an opinion piece in the New York Times by Dan Lyons, who worked at a software company where involuntary turnover (i.e., getting fired or laid off) was the norm. The fact that you could be fired on any day, for any reason, was routine.

Rough and tumble corporate cultures are nothing new. And while not every company is a meat grinder, the truth is that deliberately tough work environments do exist, and employers aren't necessarily selling themselves as best-in-class places to work. They demand results. The social contract is simple enough: We give you a paycheck, and you work in the environment we choose to foster.

Websites like Glassdoor will show you reviews of companies' work environments by former and current employees. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that this increased level of transparency has led some companies to embrace the fact that working there isn't going to be a Shangri-La. It's kind of freeing for executive leadership, in a way - if people know you're not too worried about employee engagement, you can focus that energy on simply producing results.

Going back to the opinion piece mentioned at the beginning of this post, the detail that really caught my attention was that Lyons' employer evaluated employees in their appraisals with a metric called VORP - Value Over a Replacement Player. This is a baseball statistic that general managers use to decide when to trade or cut players. In other words, if there's a second baseman on the market who can do the same job for less, or deliver better stats at the same rate of pay, the GM has data that can support making a personnel change at moment’s notice.

This, according to the article, is transparent to employees, they can tell immediately how much the organization values them. What's scary about this is that Major League Baseball is a truly elite work environment - at any given time, there's only 750 positions available at the highest level. And these players are paid elite money to deal with this uncertainty - and to reward them for the level of performance they are expected to deliver.

The average MLB player knows the odds - there are hundreds of thousands of people competing for his job. And his career averages 5.6 years in length. Longevity isn't necessarily part of the equation.

But the fact that this practice has entered the mainstream should serve as a wake-up call to employees. We are all replaceable. There is always somebody ready to come along and do our job.

How can you prepare?

  • Be self-aware. Are your skills up to date? How about your soft skills, do you get along well with others? Your employer and coworkers are very aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and you should be, too. If you realize you're lacking in a certain area, work on developing your skill set. It's worth it.

  • Know where you stand. Have regular touch-bases with your manager. Engage in open dialogue about your performance and expectations. Make sure you're both aligned, and you know what is believed to be a personal strength or development area.

  • Keep your resume and your LinkedIn profile current. Change may come faster than you anticipate, and not necessarily on your terms. You need to be ready in case opportunity knocks.

  • Always be networking. The worst time to start building up your connections is when you need a job. Have your network in place and give it some TLC. Pay it forward - help people in your network when you're in a position to do so, so that others have a reason to give you a solid. Be nice to people – it pays dividends.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

I Just Got a Job Offer! What Do All The Words in this Letter Mean?

Sign it! Sign it! / iStockphoto.com (Grinvalds)

Sign it! Sign it! / iStockphoto.com (Grinvalds)

Congratulations! After five weeks and multiple rounds of interviews, the company decided to extend you a written job offer!

The recruiter emails you the offer and... holy cow, this thing is long. The letter has to be at least two pages long and filled with business speak. What do I make of all this? And why did the company feel the need to send me their own version of War and Peace?

Believe it or not, that lengthy letter you're holding in your hands is a well thought out document, that – if well written – details most of the things about compensation, terms, and conditions, and the other effluvia you need to consider prior to accepting a job offer.

Let's go through the components of a typical offer letter. But first, there are two important items I'd like to mention:

I am not an attorney, nor do I presume to give legal advice. This is a general guide to reading a job offer; if you have serious questions or concerns about the wording of an offer, I advise you to find appropriate legal counsel. But that's not me.

This article details what you will typically find in an offer. There are as many variations to offer letters as there are companies extending employment, so how much or how little documentation a company chooses to include in the letter can vary wildly - from the verbal offer to a lengthy contract.

Let's talk about the components of an offer:

  1. Salary: How much the company pays you to do your job. This will usually be presented as an annualized figure., such as $35,000 per year, and broken down into per-pay-period amount, such as $1,346 per bi-weekly. The reason for this is that unless you sign a serious contract (like a Major League Baseball player or head coach in the NCAA) your pay is not guaranteed. Your job is likely at-will, meaning that once you stop working, so does payroll. This will often tell you if or when you will be eligible for the merit increase (i.e. raise) based upon your performance appraisal and the regular salary review cycle. Some companies don't give regular raises - be warned.
     
  2. Incentive Compensation: Many companies give out bonuses to employees in certain jobs if they, the company, and or their business unit meet some combination of performance goals. This is usually presented as a percentage of salary, such as "12% of eligible earnings." Keep in mind, this is just a target; companies often give more or less (or none) depending upon how that performance turns out. Often, the letter will state that you will have to be employed on a certain date and have worked a certain period (like the previous full year) to collect this. Terms will often be detailed in the offer letter.
     
  3. Long-Term Incentive: Higher-level folks, like executives, often get offers for stock options and the like. It's usually detailed in here.
     
  4. Sign-on Bonus: If company really wants you to join, they may throw some extra cash at you to help influence your decision. They'll detail the amount they're offering you - and they'll detail how they'll claw back a portion of the bonus or the entire amount in case you leave before a certain time (like 1 or 2 years of employment) – companies often include this language to encourage employee retention. My advice: If you're not sure you're going to love the job, put the money in escrow so that you can hand it back when you leave.
     
  5. Relocation Assistance: Moving the old homestead from Texas to California for the job? The company may offer you relocation assistance in the form of mover services or a cash allocation so that you can handle the move itself. The specifics of the actual relocation itself usually reside in a separate policy document, so ask for this if they offer you a relocation package. Again, the company may try to claw back a portion or all of your relocation expenses if you leave the company too soon, and these costs can really add up to major cash.
     
  6. Tuition Reimbursement: Your new employer may pay some or all of the tuition for you to get that degree you've wanted to pursue. There are two catches. First, the degree usually has to be something that will add to the company's benefit in your current role (in other words, if you work in Accounting, they'll more likely approve tuition for an MBA than for a Theater Arts Degree). Second, clawbacks in case you leave usually apply.
     
  7. Health & Wellness Benefits: This explains the benefits you will typically qualify for - such as health insurance, long- and short-term disability insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, etc., and when you're eligible to get these benefits. The letter will usually tell you when and how you qualify, but won't get into the nitty–gritty of what your benefits cost you (your premiums and copays) and what's covered. You'll need the benefits brochures - ask for them.
     
  8. Vacation, Holidays, Sick Time: Also known as PTO (paid time off). Here you'll find out how you accrue days off, and how many you can accrue. Each company's paid time off policy works differently, so read this carefully; some companies offer separate vacation days and sick days, and others will lump these all into a time bank where you draw it down regardless of why you're missing work. Incidentally, if you have vacation time already scheduled to take place after you start, this is a good time to mention this to the recruiter, so that you can get the time approved, even if you haven't accrued the time.
     
  9. Other Perks, Benefits, and Tools: Company phone, company car, discounts on corporate product, travel benefits, whatever, this will all be outlined in the offer letter.
     
  10. Terms of Employment: The company will likely insert verbiage about your employment being "at-will" (in other words, you can quit or be fired at any time), or perhaps contractual terms. Either way, the company usually include a note about their right to change terms and conditions (on benefits, policies, or many other things) in the future.
     
  11. "Employment is Contingent Upon"...: This is where the company details that the offer letter is only good if you pass the drug test and background check. Fail one or both of those, and the offer is null and void.
     
  12. Place For You To Sign: Yep. The offer letter is a contract. The company wants you to sign the letter and send it back to make sure that everybody is on the same page and agrees to the terms. Keep a copy.

What may NOT be in the letter: Employers may have you sign a plethora of other documents once you walk through the door. These could include Non-competition Agreements (which restrict you from working for a competitor within a certain period of time), Nondisclosure Agreements (saying you won't share their secrets), Conflict of Interest Disclosures (preventing you from investing in or doing business for any organization in direct conflict with your employer's interests) and many more covenants. Companies have been known to terminate employees who refuse to sign such documents, so ask your questions up front.

Don't hesitate to ask the HR representative who extended you the offer if you have questions about its contents. It's better to know and to understand what you are getting yourself into.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.