Congratulations on your job offer (or your future job offer)! Your work isn’t quite finished yet, though. Evaluating your offer and making a decision will take a bit of research and introspection
Let’s talk salary first. A good first stop is the Center for Engineering Career Development. We have data on the mean salary for each of the majors for the past graduation year and we can separate the data based on geographic location as well. Secondly, check out the salary calculator from Glassdoor.
These two steps should give you a good idea of how the salary you’ve been offered aligns with the market rate. We have a lot more information on salary negotiation on our website too!
BENEFITS TO COMPARE AND CONSIDER:
Retirement: Defined Benefits Plan (employer funded, guarantees monthly payout at retirement) vs. Defined Contribution Plan (employee funded pre-tax, employee managed) or IRA. Some employers will match up to 50% of what the employee contributes.
Health Care: Compare what you’ll pay each month out of your paycheck, co-payments for doctor visits, prescription costs, and what your deductible will be.
Vacation: In the US the average is 13 paid days of vacation per year. Some companies offer “Paid Time Off” which includes vacation, sick days and personal days.
BEYOND SALARY AND BENEFTIS:
Clear responsibilities: Are you clear on what will be expected of you? Has everyone you’ve talked to discussed your responsibilities in the same way?
Office layout: Open floor plan vs. cubicles vs. offices – what works best for you?
Company culture: Do you hear fear or excitement in the voices of the people who work there? Do employees eat at their desks? Family-type atmosphere or competitive? Room for experimentation and innovation around workflow or is the environment more rigid and bureaucratic?
Recruiting process: A rushed recruiting process might be the sign of a company just trying to fill seats while a process that drags on might be a sign of disorganization.
Work week hours: How many hours per week are you expected to work. It can be helpful to calculate your salary as $ per hour to help you get another perspective on salary and hours.
Travel: Travel can be a plus for some people and a minus for others. Know what to expect.
Hidden costs: Will you have a long commute, have to pay for parking, buy all new clothes?
When you’re trying to make a tough decision, remember:
It’s a difficult decision because there isn’t a clear answer. You’re often deciding between two (or three!) good options. There are generally many plus sides to each side of the decision. If you love podcasts, TED Radio Hour has a number of great ones on making decisions – definitely worth a listen!
Really trust your gut feeling. You’ll probably get lots of advice from other folks, but this is ultimately your decision. And then, once you’ve made a decision, don’t look back – no second guessing!
Last thought - There is no one career decision that will close future doors for you. Career paths are never linear and you’ll have lots of zigs and zags along the way. Be committed to making the best of whichever choice you make and you can’t go wrong!