How to Handle That Unexpected Job Offer


With an exciting job offer in hand, it’s probably tempting to accept right away, especially if you’re looking to get out of your current job. Here are some things to think about before saying yes—or passing—on that unexpected job offer.

Consider the perks

The benefits of your new job may be worth thousands of dollars above your cash compensation. Perks like health insurance, vacation time, tuition assistance, life insurance, and retirement matching may make the offer much more attractive, even if the salary is similar to that of your current job. Consider how your overall spending might change—such as for college tuition or health insurance costs—if your new benefits are different from those at your current job.

Many jobs offer unique benefits, like company-sponsored retreats or catered lunches, that can be hard to quantify in cash terms. What’s a larger office or a flexible schedule worth to you? Before you accept the job, think about how much money you’d be willing to give up for each of these perks and calculate accordingly.

Talk with your family

The people who depend on your income should be the first ones you talk to when making an important career decision. Talk with your spouse and loved ones about how the job offer aligns with your larger career goals. If you’ll be taking a pay cut, discuss what this means for your family’s budget, and how the benefits of the job—say, a move to a new industry, or a shorter commute—make up for the loss.

Look at your lifestyle

The salary and benefits are just part of the overall picture: Lifestyle factors are just as important. Be sure to get as much intel as possible on the culture of the workplace and the work-life balance it offers.

Are employees expected to work late nights? Be available at inconvenient hours? Manage crises on short notice? Is the schedule flexible? Are you able to work from home a few days a week? After your interview, ask to talk to current employees, preferably in your desired role or on the team you’ll be working with.

Think about your future

Your current salary, benefits, and title are important, but it’s also crucial to think about what they’ll be in five, ten, or fifteen years. Growth potential might offset certain drawbacks of the job. Maybe the salary is smaller than you expected, but the role comes with high promotion potential. Or perhaps the benefits package is so-so, but you’ll be able to receive valuable training for free that could enhance your future career.

You might also want to think about how the role aligns with your overall career trajectory. Will you gain valuable skills and knowledge in this role? Will it look impressive on your resume a few years from now if you decide to move on? Can the skills you’ll learn in this job transfer to a different industry or role? Talk with other people in your industry to ensure you’re making the right move.