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by R. Karl Hebenstreit | March 31, 2009


Reports that the economy and that the job market are getting better are being contradicted by announcements of continued corporate job cuts. However, several key indicators are predicting the availability of more jobs (including increases in Internet job postings and the sale of coaching programs vs. outplacement services), and more people are finding jobs. Some are even fortunate enough to receive multiple offers. What factors should job seekers consider?

1. Values

Rank the following factors in their importance to you at this stage of your life and career:

  • Autonomy/independence
  • Time off
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Short commute
  • Benefits
  • Opportunities for future advancement
  • Compensation
  • Interesting, meaningful, challenging work
  • Opportunities for networking for future
  • Good boss and coworker relationships
  • Company reputation
  • Company culture

2. Quantitative Analysis

Identify which of these values is a ?must? and which is a ?desired? quality. When assessing a company?s ability to meet your requirements, add one for every ?must? met and a one for every ?desired? met by the job. Sum up each category and compare the final scores to add a quantitative dimension to your decision-making process.

If there?s still a tie, you may want to determine a weighted score by assigning values according to an organization?s ability to meet the criterion (i.e., if a company can only partially meet one of your criteria, give it a fraction of a point).

3. Other Considerations

Keep in mind that your offer negotiation does not only center only around salary. If one offer seems more lucrative because of extra paid time off, you can negotiate extra vacation time (you'll probably be most successful in this venue with the hiring manager, rather than HR who'll want to maintain as much internal consistency as possible and probably won't have a way to track this in corporate systems). For some rare positions, a sign-on bonus is still possible (either as a lump sum if it's small, or spread out over time if it's larger). And some people's skittishness about being laid off recently has even prompted them to negotiate severance packages up-front (almost like a pre-nuptial agreement!).

4. Tenure

This leads us to a discussion about how long one should stay with a company. Your decision to accept a job offer may not be based on it being the ideal next step in your career growth (that's probably not going to happen in the current infant state of economic recovery). You most probably will be accepting a job in which your past mastery and expertise is the core competency. So, should you hold out for your ideal, dream job or compromise and make a lateral move - or even a step backwards? That decision will be largely dependent on your personal financial situation and whether the offering company has the future career-path options for your growth and development.

If you choose to hold out, you may find it valuable to volunteer your core competency services to non-profit organizations. This will serve multiple purposes:

  • continue your trajectory and skill-building in your field, discipline, or industry
  • decrease the unemployment/unproductive time gap on your r?sum?
  • provide valuable networking opportunities which may lead to your next job
  • help keep you motivated and productive
  • help out a needy cause that would otherwise not benefit from your expertise

If you choose to compromise and take a job to meet financial requirements, you can always leave at a later time when economic improvement makes more attractive options available.

Remember that we are all individuals with different financial obligations and career aspirations. What may be right for you may not be right for your neighbor. Be sure to make the decision that's the right one for you, is in alignment with your values, and makes sense for your particular financial situation.


Filed Under: Job Search

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