Fresh Grad 101

Evaluating a Job Offer.


In today’s post for my #FreshGrad101 series, I want to share a little bit about my experiences in evaluating a job offer. Now, as always, I am still a relatively fresh graduate myself. Anything that I write here will be from my own personal experiences, as well as things I’ve learnt from talking to my colleagues or friends.

Some people might say that as a fresh graduate, you shouldn’t be too picky about your first job. After all, you’re a fresh graduate, and you need experiences before you can start demanding here and there. But I think that even as a fresh graduate, you need to learn about how to evaluate job offers, so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

(You can hold different views and perspectives on this – that’s fine too)

Congratulations, they’re offering you the job!

You’ve made it! You’ve submitted your application, gone through the whole process of interviewing and shortlisting, and here you are.

They’re finally giving you an offer.

When you receive the job offer, don’t rush to accept it unless you know for sure that it is what you want. Actually, no, don’t rush to accept it in any cases, if possible.

Take your time to evaluate the job offer to ensure that you fully understand what they are offering you. Get an experienced friend or family member to help you out if you don’t understand the terms.

Revisit the job description and responsibilities, if you agree with what the job actually requires from you. Make sure they’re offering you the position that you interviewed / applied for.

Other than that, ensure that you fully understand the terms of the job offer, and when the deadline is to respond to them. Some employers may give you within a couple of days to a week to make your decision. This gives you time to carefully evaluate the job offer.

Think about the non-monetary benefits they’re offering you.

You’d want to know that your employer is offering some medical and/or dental coverage. This is especially important if you or your dependant(s) have any medical conditions. After all, healthcare may be expensive in some instances, so you would want to make sure the coverage’s good.

Back with my old colleagues from Monash University Malaysia
Back with my old colleagues in Monash University Malaysia

Also consider the other benefits that you’d be receiving. Do the office has an in-house gym that you can utilize? Do they provide free parking for staff? How many vacation days do you get per year? What about medical sick leave? What is their policy on maternity/paternity leave (if you’re married and planning to have kids)? Do they have an in-building childcare center for employees’ children?

I would also recommend asking about their training and development programs that they offer to employees. After all, you would want opportunities to further develop your skills while you’re in the position. If a company’s invested in their employees’ training and development, it can be a sign of potential career growth for you.

Consider the other aspects of the job offer.

Think about where you’d be working at, and how far/close it is to your house. Do you have to move to a different city? Is there public transportation nearby, or will you need to drive on your own? How about parking spaces? Do they provide free parking for staff, or do you have to find your own parking?

Also, ask about the potential department and environment, about your potential colleagues. How many people are in your department? What are the working hours? Are there any dress codes that you need to be mindful of? What’s the day-to-day like in the office?

What about your potential manager/supervisor? How did your conversation or interview with them go? Can you see yourself working under them? Did they seem friendly enough? Do you think you can get along well to work with them?

Note: All of this are, of course, preliminary reasons. You can’t actually tell for sure if you’ll be a good fit with a team until you’ve actually worked with them. But, if you can learn more about them (i.e. give them a visit, maybe?), it’d be worthwhile.

Look at what they’re offering you – and, yes, this means the all important salary.

I put this last because, even though it is an important part of evaluating a job offer, it is not the most important. However, for some people, the salary is a huge make-or-break it, for many different reasons.

Now, look at that important number in the offer letter. Do you think they’re compensating you enough for the position? If it’s not your first job, are there enough increase in the salary to make it a worthwhile jump?

But how would I know how much is ‘enough’?

This is when you need to consider all the aspects surrounding the job offer, as well as your own personal expenditures. Think about your own personal finance, and how much you usually spend in a month. You need to think about how much you’ll have to pay for rent, for food and groceries, for car/transportation, for personal spending and savings and other expenditures.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Don’t just grab the offer with the highest salary before taking into consideration your expenses (or potential expenses) after accepting the job offer.

For example, which of these would you choose (holding everything else constant, like position and relative ‘prestige’ of the companies, etc):

  1. A job that pays RM4,000 monthly, but is located at the other end of town. The office is also nowhere near a public transportation, so you would have to drive on your own. Parking will cost you at least RM8/day, while toll charges will be around RM6/return trip.
  2. A job that pays RM3,400 monthly, but is located within 30-minutes drive of your house. The office is also near an MRT station, which means you won’t have to drive on your own.

Calculate the potential increase/decrease in your expenditures with every job offer. Use this to evaluate if the offer is worth it or if it would cost you a lot more.

Am I getting a good salary offer?

You can never know for sure if you’re getting a good salary offer. There are, however, many different platforms that you can use to estimate the salary ranges for various positions.

For instance, you can use JobStreet’s Malaysia Salary Report 2018 as a quick guide. This report is based on the advertisements on JobStreet Malaysia. It might not include jobs that were advertised only on company’s websites, so take it with a grain of salt.

Other than that, you can utilize PayScale’s Salary Data & Career Research Center Malaysia. This can be incomplete, and may not tell the full story. But it could be a good starting point to look at average salary and potential career paths.

Robert Walters also have a document on salary survey for Greater China & South East Asia. This could be helpful for you if you’re thinking about working outside of Malaysia.

Lastly – you can also refer to Kelly Services’ 2018/2019 Salary Guide. This guide gives you the minimum/maximum salary for different positions in different industries. It also tells you some of the ‘hot jobs’ of the year.

Why should you worry too much about evaluating a job offer?

It takes time, yes, but when you take the time and effort to properly evaluate a job offer, it’d be worthwhile. After all, you’d be spending most of your time at work, so you better make sure you like every aspect of it.

Hopefully, this can help you in getting started. But, as always, there are a lot of other things to consider as well, as everyone is different. Everyone has different preferences and lives, so think about what is important to you.

Some people prefer to work in a collaborative, open office. Others may prefer a traditional, cubicle-like office. Some people want a fat big paycheck to pay and provide for their family. Others may be okay with a slightly smaller paycheck but have a better work-life balance.

Figure out what’s important to you, and evaluate a job offer based on what you’re looking to gain.

Until next time, take care and stay awesome! 🙂

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