Evaluating an offer of employment: Is it right for you?

By Pepper de Callier

Basic assumption: your interest is in building a career and not on short-term economics.  If this is not your interest this is where you can stop reading and get up to pour another cup of coffee before moving on to the want ads.

Over the years I have helped people evaluate literally hundreds of offers of employment.  It is not an easy task but, done properly, it can help create great value in one’s career, or uncover a potential disaster.  Let’s face it, when someone makes you an offer your first reaction is generally to be flattered.  However, there are several critical dynamics at work when you are presented with an offer of employment.  First of all, I have always advised people that they should view their professional careers as one of the most valuable assets they’ll ever control.  Secondly, they should view themselves as asset managers and dig for data that will build the foundation of a well informed decision on how best to deploy that asset.  On the other side of the equation is a very subtle, yet powerful dynamic: How you evaluate the offer—the algorithm you employ, what questions you ask and where you place the emphasis in those questions, all speak volumes about your intelligence, your values, how you are likely to approach problem solving once you’re on board and a whole host of other key indicators that will confirm or question who you are thought to be.

Building the dataset for your decision begins long before your first interview, not when you’re handed an offer.   Below are the six main categories you should be gathering data on as you move through the recruiting process along with some questions to ask in each category.  The answers to these questions will arm you with the information with which to make an informed and very important decision.


  1. The Company: What cycle is the company in?  What is its reputation in the marketplace with regard to: products, services, customer service, quality, strategy, how they treat their employees, their financial condition?  How are they viewed by their competitors, suppliers, current/past employees?  What are the company’s long-term strategy and short-term goals and where are they in relation to their attainment?  What is the history and tenure of the current management team here and in previous positions?  What is the management team’s experience vis-à-vis the stated strategy and goals?  (A general Internet publication search of newspapers, trade journals, analyst’s reports, etc. is of great value here for objective data.)
  2. The Position:  Is it a new position?  Why was it created?  If not a new position, why is the position currently, or soon to be, vacant?  What happened to that person—did they quit, get fired, promoted or have a nervous breakdown?    Historically, where have people gone in the organization who were previously in this job?  What personal growth does it offer?  What new skills will you be able to develop?   Of what importance is the position in the overall strategy of the enterprise?  
  3. Your boss: To whom will you be reporting?  What is that person’s track record?  What is his/her reputation with subordinates?  How is that person viewed within the company?  Has he or she given any recent speeches or written any articles that you could have a copy of (or find on the company’s website or the Internet)?
  4. Expectations: What are the expectations of the job?  How will your success be judged a year from now?  Who will be judging your success?  Are the expectations realistic?  How do they fit with your personal strengths and weaknesses?
  5. The Future: What is the CEO’s vision and mission statement for the company? What makes you think he or she can accomplish them?  How do those fit with your personal values and beliefs? 
  6. Compensation:  Break the compensation into cash and non-cash categories:


Cash—base salary; short-term bonus; long-term bonus; pension and/or profit sharing; how is bonus/profit sharing calculated and triggered?; based on last year’s performance what would they have been for this position?; based on this year’s projections and expectations of the position, what is a realistic payout assumption?; when is salary reviewed and, historically, what have been the increases; how do these numbers and provisions measure-up industry-wise?

Non-cash—health, life and disability insurance, option or stock grant program, educational benefit, vacation, alternative work scheduling, ability to work from home, communication tools (new computer, cell phone, Blackberry, etc.), location and quality of office or cube.    

If you were advising your best friend about whether or not to accept this offer, what would you identify as the strengths and weaknesses of it vis-à-vis your friend’s desires and abilities?  

Now you’re ready to make a decision.

(Rhys de Callier contributed to this article.)

About the Author: Pepper de Callier is one of the most respected senior executive coaches and authorities on leadership in Europe. Learn more about him at

*These are reprints from Pepper de Callier‘s newspaper column in Hospodarske noviny.  

Common Sense Wisdom: Thoughts to Live By

Beginning September 3rd, 2012, you will be able to start your week with an insight, or new perspective that will help you move closer to your goals as a professional and a personally fulfilling life as one of today’s most respected coaches, authors and leadership authorities, Pepper de Callier, shares his thoughts with you in a short inspirational video of two to four minutes every Monday morning on YouTube in a series titled Common Sense Wisdom: Thoughts to Live By.

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