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A Better Way to Choose Which Job Offer to Take

written by Kristin Sherry December 24, 2018
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Kristin Sherry

By Kristin Sherry

Founder of Virtus Career Consulting, speaker and author of the career empowerment book

I coach plenty of people that make a lot of money that detest their job. So why do people continue to take job offers with the best financial package?

We should know by now that money doesn’t make us happy. Polls show that satisfaction after receiving a raise fades in less than six months.

Realistically salary does matter. You have bills to pay. However, you shouldn’t simply choose the job offer that has the best salary offer on the table. Before you ever receive a job offer, you should outline exactly what is most important to you so you aren’t tempted to compromise when you receive an offer.

In addition to base salary, bonus, stock options, tuition reimbursement, vacation, and insurance, you should evaluate the attributes of the job.

The American College Testing (ACT) Program has identified 25 common attributes of work associated with personal job satisfaction. The assumption is that if the attributes of a job match one’s personal preferences, then one is more likely to be satisfied in that job, all other things being more or less equal.

You can create a simple table in Word or Excel spreadsheet and list the 25 attributes shown below.

Next, arrange the work attributes into thirds:

  • The top third are workplace attributes that are desirable to you.
  • The middle third are neutral; you can take them or leave them.
  • The bottom third are work attributes that are undesirable to you.

Review aspects of the job description, as well as information you’ve received about the job from your interviews and other research. You can also add your own attributes to the above list.

Color code attributes that are present and desirable (top third) in green under the role.

Color code attributes that are present and undesirable (bottom third) in red under the role. This indicates the presence of work attributes that you don’t enjoy.

For example, if you want a job that allows you to contribute ideas, you color code it in green if a job offers this (shown in the example above). I do not want a job that requires you to create order (also shown in the example above), and a job has this attribute, you color code it in red under that role.

The job with the most green in the top third and fewest red in the bottom third is the best match.

Here are the definitions of the 25 work attributes:

Authority: similar to management, but towards non-employees, as in a traffic cop job—telling people what to do or what not to do (lawyer, consultant)

Certification: careers certifying competence by a degree, license, etc. (doctor, actuary, realtor)

Creating Order: using rules to arrange things (quality inspector, administrator)

Easy Re-entry: easy to move, or quit and come back, as after maternity leave (sales, mechanic)

Financial Challenge: advising others so that much could be gained or lost (investment/financial planner)

40-Hour Week: work that entails no overtime, taking work home, on-call status, etc. (postal clerk)

High Income: to be in the top 25% of money earners (NFL quarterback, executive)

Immediate Response: working/performing around others where immediate feedback is the norm–applause, laughs, boos, cheers, attaboys, attagirls, handshakes, etc. (comedian, flight attendant)

Influencing Others: convincing without authority (sales, counseling, health care, social work)

Making or Fixing Things: working with your hands or tools on electro-mechanical objects (mechanic)

Management: planning, directing, and evaluating the work of others (manager, supervisor, etc.)

New Ideas: creating new ways to do things – trying new combinations of ideas (advertising, consultant)

Non-Standard Hours: preferring work that is seasonal, temporary, part-time, shifts, etc. (consultant)

Occasional Travel: out of town travel about once a quarter (small-business owner)

Physical Activity: work that results in a significant amount of exercise–walking, lifting, sporting (construction, firefighter, baggage handler)

Precision: work that is done according to exact standards or procedures (assembler, fabricator)

Problem Solving: spending time figuring out how to do things, to get things done, to fix things (consultant)

Project Work: tasks lasting one week or longer (project manager, engineer, and architect)

Public Contact: work in which you can talk and be seen by non-co-workers (customer service, sales)

Routine Travel: getting out of the office/town once a week or more (many sales positions, consultant)

Short Training Time: less than 6 months required training after high school (construction work, receptionist, delivery driver)

Working in an Office: work most of the time inside, in an office (accountant, writer, banker)

Working In/Out: partially inside and partially outside (material handler, elementary school teacher, coach)

Working Outside: working outdoors in the weather, good or bad (cowpoke, mail delivery, door-to-door sales)

Working Separately: solitary work that requires little talking or other contact with co-workers (bookkeeper)

This is just another data point in addition to the total package being offered, but if a role has less green and more red than an offer with a little more money, you’ll likely be better off taking the job that has the attributes that will lead to better job satisfaction than just going for the dough.

All the best to you!

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