How to evaluate a job offer

Chances are, you have sent numerous job applications over the past few months after graduating from varsity, and have gone through the mill of sitting for several precious interviews. After a while, you find yourself chanting responses to the interviewer's questions, akin to reciting yuor life's mantra. Just when you thought trawling through the classifieds every morning over a cup of coffee and toast becoming too much of a dreary routine, your mobile phone rings!

By Tania Heng

“Congratulations! On behalf of my company, I would like to extend you a verbal offer for the position we’ve discussed at our previous meeting...”

The moment you have been waiting for has finally arrived! But before you decide to jump on the bandwagon, tell the person on the other end that you’ll have to consider the offer. Most organisations will not expect you to accept or reject an offer immediately. Usually, you’ll be notified of your appointment by the human resource manager, and he or she will inform you of your remuneration over the phone. Be sure to ask some important questions like where your workplace is located, what the working hours are like and how many days of annual leave you are entitled to, before replying politely that you need to consider the offer. The answers to these questions will help you draw up a fundamental framework that can be used to map out your decision-making process.

Specialising in the recruitment of sales and marketing professionals, executive recruitment consultant Mr Sebastian Chua of Robert Walters Singapore Pte Ltd, highlights several key factors that you must consider when evaluating a job offer.

Are your career goals aligned with what the job offers?
Depending on your intention and objectives, you will have to decide if the job enables you to achieve your career goal. For example, what if you’ve been offered a position of marketing executive when your career goal is to be a lawyer? This is where you have to re-examine your intention and objectives for landing a job, and what you want from it. If the offer is unable to lead to your career objectives, explore other opportunities first. Always try to pursue a position that you like and not jump into any position that is available to you. Talk to the hiring manager or the manager you will be reporting to, to better understand if the job helps to fulfil your career objectives.

Are you comfortable with the company's profile?
By now, you should have a basic understanding of the company’s profile and what it does. Ask yourself if you would take pride in associating yourself with the company and if you are comfortable with telling others about the company. This is paramount to instilling your sense of belonging to the company, and it will be crucial towards building a happy working relationship.

Can you adapt to the company's culture?
After having sat through at least two interviews with the company, you should have observed some aspects of the company’s culture. Was the atmosphere relaxed or fast-paced? Did the employees bury their heads in work or were they jovial? These are only subtle clues as to what the company’s culture is like, but they can help you decide if you’d be able to fit in.

“The candidate must feel comfortable with the hiring manager and the company. Good companies might also conduct peer interviews, to allow the candidate and his future colleagues interact during a drinks session, and get a feel of the working environment,” Mr Chua says.

Can you live up with the job description
As much as you would like to be thorough and fuss over what the company is offering, there is a similar need to project these considerations inward and ask whether you’re capable of living up to the company’s expectations. Mr Chua says, “The candidate must reflect on his abilities and consider if he is able to comfortably fulfil the objectives and requirements of the position.”

Are you satisfied with the remuneration?
Your remuneration package should not be the foremost factor on your priority list but this figure should be an amount that can comfortably meet your daily needs. Do some market research on the Internet or confer with friends and family who are working in similar positions. Bear in mind that the remuneration package is usually negotiable. If you can show that you are independent, clear-minded and focused on your career objectives, instead of someone who is only motivated by monetary gains, chances are, your remuneration package will be open to negotiation.
These are the essential points you should consider while considering your job offer. Make sure to scrutinise the terms and clauses in the letter very carefully and clarify any doubts you might have with the manager. Leave no stones unturned because any term or clause that seems ambiguous might disadvantage your appointment in the company. Here are some important terms you need to pay attention to when looking over the appointment letter.

What are the benefits and fringes?
You should check if you’ll be covered by any health insurance once you’ve joined the company. Some companies also provide free annual dental and health checks. Depending on the seniority of the position and the company’s policy, you should also be entitled to certain days of annual leave.

Does the pay package include the CPF?
Read through the letter of offer to understand the structure of your remuneration package. CPF contributions are compulsory for all Singapore citizens, so make sure it is explicitly stated in the letter.

How long is the notice period?
Notice periods are usually around one to two months. However, some companies require senior executives to give a notice period of at least three months. You will need to understand exactly what the penalties are for early resignation and other terms that may bind you while serving your notice period. For example, some companies may require you to complete your current project or perform a smooth handover to the person replacing you before you can leave the company.

Can you join a competitor's company once you've resigned?
Due to the sensitive nature of certain jobs, some companies may put a clause to stop employees from joining a competing company after you’ve resigned. Depending on the clause, this may be in effect for six months to a year after you’ve left. Are you willing to accept the clause?

As Mr Chua advises, “The applicant is allowed to negotiate the terms and clauses of the employment agreement and iron out any issue with the human resource manager. If the HR manager is unable to resolve the issue, it is likely that he or she will invite the hiring manager to step in.”

The pointers mentioned are merely guidelines to help you evaluate a job offer. They are nowhere near exhaustive. Bottom line – it is largely up to you to decide where your priorities lie and what’s best for yourself. Good luck!

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