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Criteria for Accepting or Declining a Job Offer

by Ruth Mayhew

The ultimate reward of a job search done well is a job offer, but accepting it just because you want to work or need an income isn't always the best criteria for deciding whether to accept the offer. Economic factors will most assuredly enter into your decision, although there are other factors to consider, depending on the stage of your career, family obligations and personal and professional interests.

Professional Goals

If you're in the early to middle stages of your professional career, you should consider factors such as whether the job provides you with development opportunities that will advance your career. If the job offer meets your criteria for achieving your short-term or long-term career goals, then that could be an important reason to accept the job. For example, if you want to develop your leadership skills, finish college or pursue an advanced degree, an employer that supports professional development ticks off at least one of the boxes of your criteria for choosing the right offer.

Work-Life Balance

No matter how passionate you are about your line of work, work-life balance is an essential point to consider when you decide to accept or decline an offer. If the job requires total commitment and connectivity, regardless of whether it's the weekend or a holiday, you'll have to decide if you're up for being at the company's beck and call 24/7. Or if you sense the organizational culture fosters the notion that employees at certain levels should be accessible more often than not, evaluate that criteria in your decision and how the commitment affects your work-life balance.

Benefits

If you're currently employed and you're happy with the benefits package, your criteria for changing jobs will likely include employee benefits. Will you be satisfied with the same type of benefits package or are you looking for more? Do you want a higher employer contribution and lower employee premium contribution, a generous paid-time-off policy, the option to telecommute or flexible scheduling? Looking at the factors that affect your benefits package also may require you to consider the size and structure of the organization, as well as mandates that will affect employee benefits down the line. For example, the number of employees a business has may affect the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act employer obligations that become effective in 2015.

Salary

Money isn't everything, but if you're going from flat broke to employed or if you're already employed but your earnings will increase significantly, how much the company is offering to pay you may be important criteria upon which to base your decision. Depending on your financial status, family and personal obligations and lifestyle, salary might be among the highest-ranking criteria for your selection. Conversely, salary might not be as important as the intangible rewards you stand to gain from accepting the offer.

Security

Some job seekers like the thrill of helping build a start-up organization, while others want the job security that an established organization can provide. The amount of risk you're willing to assume in your career may be important criteria in your decision whether to accept or decline the offer. For example, if a job offer with a start-up company satisfies your entrepreneurial talents, getting in on the ground of a company that has a promising exit strategy or tremendous room for growth might be right up your alley. But if you want job security, knowing that your job is as close to recession-proof as possible, maybe you're inclined to accept an offer to work with a company that's not likely to go out of business.

Organizational Culture

For hiring managers, whether the candidate will fit the workplace culture is an important factor in the decision to extend a job offer, according to Nancy P. Rothbard, a management professor at The Wharton School. But it's also criteria that candidates must consider. If you feel comfortable with the hiring manager and others you met during the interview process and you sense that your work style would mesh nicely with others, rely on your intuition to tell you whether the organization's culture is a good fit for you. The criteria for choosing a job should always include ensuring that your professional values parallel the prospective employer's.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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