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Evaluating Job Opportunities With a Structured Process

Lesson 22 Module 7

Evaluating Your Job Offers

In the following information, I’m going to provide you with a structured approach to help you to determine if the opportunity you’re being offered is really 20% - 30% better.  This rule is particularly critical if you already have a good job.  If you’re unemployed and under pressure to start earning a salary again, then the dynamics are a bit different, but equally as critical.

There may be more than one acceptable job decision, but there is probably only one best decision. There is more to making as wise career decision besides the salary and compensation.

Click on each topic below for brief details.

Think of Your Job Like an Investment

If someone asked you, “what is your career game plan, what would you say?”  If you can’t immediately provide a short and long-term strategy, then you haven’t paid enough attention to your career.

Managing your career has a lot of similarities with managing your long-term investments.  Most of us understand the power of compound interest.  Financial assets invested in a way that takes advantage of compound interest will provide significantly larger returns.  The quicker you invest and the longer you allow compounding to work, the more you earn.

Careers are similar. The earlier you understand how to manage your career and thus the longer you manage it, the more success you are likely to enjoy over the span of your working life.  This is where your career track can get “side-tracked.” 

Remember the Past to Predict the Future

Think about the most satisfying job you’ve ever had. This would be the job that got your creative juices flowing. The job that made you get up every morning anticipating the enjoyment of the coming day. What was it that caused that satisfying feeling?  Think back now and take a moment to jot down why you felt that way about that job. 

Any job that you had like that may or may not have been your most highly compensated role.  When you think about it, the money isn’t what brings these feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Don't Get Tripped Up by Job Titles

Be sure to consider where you will enter into the new company from the perspective of the organizational structure.  The higher up the organizational structure your entry point, the greater will be expectations and typically the ramp up time is also shorter.

Don’t compare job titles “apples to apples”. Job titles vary greatly between companies based on a number of factors.

A similar job title in one company may have little resemblance to a similar title in another company.  For example, a Director in one company may be totally different in scope for the same title in another.  

You might be able to handle a Director level at one company, but be totally incapable to handle a Director level in another firm.  That is true for VP, Partner, all C level jobs as well as most job titles.  

For example, let’s suppose you are a Director in one company and are offered a significant Project Manager role at another employer. Do not necessarily conclude that is a step back.  It might be that the Project Manager role is more significant than the Director role where you are now.  Additional information pertaining to this is found in the "Careful About Your Entry Point" below.

The 20% - 30% Rule: The Four Components of Any Offer

If you’re recognized as a top performer in your field, you’ll need at least 20% - 30% growth to move from a good job to a better job. This growth comes in four forms and it isn’t all compensation.  Actual compensation, item #1 below, should only account for a part of the 20% - 30% and it’s not the most important of the four.  Here are the four areas that make up the 30%:

  1. Initial job role – the doing factor
  2. Job stretch – the learning factor
  3. Job growth – the becoming factor
  4. Actual compensation – the paycheck 

Actual compensation being offered is very short-term. The initial job role and job stretch are intermediate term; generally a few months up to a year. Job growth is long-term. It’s important that you never, ever overvalue the short-term for the sake of the long-term. Many people mentally opt-out too soon in the evaluation/decision process without giving proper evaluation to the intermediate and longer term issues.

One of the key contributors to early opt-out, leading to acceptance of the wrong job, is caused by over valuing starting compensation.  Compensation increases need to fair and competitive, but not excessive. This is especially true if the job is better, and the opportunity for continuing growth exists.

Careful About Your Entry Point

The entry point into a given employer can be critical.  There are many factors that influence your potential success.  Some are obvious and others may not be so obvious.  Whenever you join a new employer, a set of expectations comes with the territory.  Often, you may be competing for a future promotion with others who have been with the employer for quite some time.  They already have established internal relationships; know the culture and how to succeed in that culture. 

Be sure and enter the organization at a level that is best to set yourself up for success. It is always wise to enter the organization so that you have an appropriate “ramp up time” to insure your success..

It’s up to you to properly understand the job stretch and job growth components discussed above. That is more difficult and more subjective than compensation, thus requiring more effort on your part. You must begin by thoroughly knowing the job, asking lots of questions, and making sure that you have the right information to make a complete, long-term decision.

Build Your "Where I'll Be Profile"

You need to build a “where I’ll be” profile. A “where I’ll be” profile takes into account the four critical factors described above in the 20% - 30% rule and is a long-term view of your career. This looks out at least 5 years.

Some of the key elements in a "where I'll be" profile includes: 

  1. The employer(s); their brand value, culture, prestige, ranking among competitors, markets, stability, ability to compete for business in both good and lean markets.
  2. If you are evaluating consulting opportunities, is the employer totally dependent on external clients for business, or do they have the possibility to consult to other non-consulting business units in lean economic times.
  3. Again, for consultants; what industry market segments will you be working with; are these private and/or public sector and how will that impact not only your future value, but also type/size/scope of projects, interesting projects and how would that impact your future marketability. 
  4. Skills, knowledge and further education you are likely to obtain/improve.
  5. The depth and breadth of future knowledge and capability that you will gain.
  6. The level of people/clients/customers you're likely to be exposed to; their value to your future career success, value of being associated with the company brand.
  7. The support and respect of your manager and colleagues in helping you meet your goals; mentoring programs (structured and unstructured), internal resources that can assist you to achieve superior performance.
  8. The value you will have to your new/future employers with enhanced experience you would gain.
    Challenges and risks you’ll likely encounter.

Example"Where I'll Be Profile" for a Software Developer

For example, some of the "Where You'll Be" areas for a software developer position might include:

Skills, knowledge and further education you are likely to obtain/improve 

  • Technical skills you might acquire 
  • Software languages you might learn
  • Opportunity to work with the latest software versions
  • Management and people skills you might acquire/strengthen
  • Classes, industry events and seminars you might attend 

Projects And Growth Opportunities - type, scope and complexity of projects 

  • The number and variety of development projects you would likely participate in
  • The number and type of projects that you might lead
  • The size and number of the teams you’ll be on/lead
  • The likely number of horizontal transfers
  • The number of promotions you might get
  • The likely number of horizontal transfers opportunities into new (non-software) functions or departments 

People /Clients/Customers Exposure

  • The number and level of executives you are likely to interact with
  • Key customers, suppliers, strategic partners as well as industry and government officials you will be exposed to
  • The value of these people to your future career success
  • The size and quality of your expanded professional network 

Support of your manager and colleagues 

  • The culture for continuous learning
  • The infrastructure of resources/subject matter experts to help you be successful
  • Attitude of teamwork that exists
  • Mentoring programs available
  • Workplace atmosphere, whether intense or relaxed, competitive or supportive, chaotic or organized
  • Philosophical compatibility

Your current and future economic value

  • Percentage of possible salary increases
  • The range of likely bonus awards
  • The number of possible stock options they could be granted
  • Long-term implications of increasing your market value due to the doing, learning and becoming factors
  • Best employer name to have on your resume for future job changes

Challenges And Risks

  • The number, type and level of risks you will be allowed to take
  • Opportunities to have your own personal ideas funded
  • Opportunities for public and company-wide exposure and visibility
  • The impact on the firm (it's products and customers) on your work is likely to have
  • Tools And Equipment available to you
  • Software you’ll have access to
  • Hardware and technology you’ll have access to
  • How would a weak economy impact your job stability and capability to be gainfully employed during a period like this

Evaluating Offers

One way to get a clear picture of how competing offers compare—or how a single offer compares with your dream job or your current job, is to create a decision matrix. 

A decision matrix is one of the best tools for examining job opportunities.  By using the Decision Matrix, you can objectively find the best job based on your personal criteria.  And once you get comfortable using the Decision Matrix, you'll be able to apply it not just to job situations, but to any large and/or important decision that you face.

This exercise will help you to stay focused on the factors that are most important to you, identify your main negotiating points, and recognize when you should probably look elsewhere.

Notice Be sure to go through the lesson below on the Job Decision Matrix and download your free template.

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