A Simple Tool for Comparing Job Options & Offers
The only thing worse than turning down a job opportunity you should have accepted is accepting one you should have rejected. Trust me.
In the heat of the battle for better opportunities, my career instincts are to maximize the title, role, pay and situation for myself. Unfortunately, this means using the same persuasion tools that earned me the job offer to evaluate my job possibilities. Just when I need a coach I’m mentally stuck as a cheerleader, calling plays based on what I feel.
The truth is, we’re not exactly equipped to make the best career decisions all the time. Often, we don’t know what will make us satisfied until we’re dissatisfied. Too much focus on prestige and too little focus on impact can leave job decisions hopelessly lopsided. Is there a way to quantify the intangible job factors so we make better career choices?
Yes. The most important personal element of a decision is your vision. What can’t you measure that is critical to know? What seems clear now that actually isn’t?
Often we don’t know what will make us satisfied until we’re dissatisfied.
I discovered this simple framework earlier this year while hop-scotching through several career pivots that challenged my sanity. Created by Allison Rimm 4 years ago, it’s a self-serve scorecard for quantifying the head (measurable objectives) and heart (intangible influences) considerations that overwhelmingly determine our job joy.
Note: Allison’s original article and methodology was very useful in my journey so I’ve created a shareable & downloadable template on Google for those who want to create their own version. The example below is just an illustration to demonstrate how it works once complete.
Step 1: Focus on the Factors
Download the template here. Each of the 5 categories on the left side are great starting points for core decision dimensions to consider. In each case, it’s helpful to frame them as questions for self-reflection: “In light of what I know about myself and hope to achieve, how important is X?” These are my 5 factors:
- Work/Role – How important are the actual job duties and team deliverables to my success? Try to identify 3 criteria that will influence your work conditions, workload and future career growth
- Family – What are the personal factors impacting overall quality of life? If you’re single you might just think about proximity to relatives, commute, geographic preferences or other personal tradeoffs.
- Organization – What business-wide factors – like team culture, industry climate, leadership styles – will weigh heavily on job satisfaction? Think about what the next 2 positions would look like and how this role is prioritized in the company.
- Tangibles – How will you rank the foundational hygiene factors like compensation, benefits, perks and equity packages?
- Intangibles – What matters of the heart are uniquely important to you? Think about both selfish and selfless desires honestly to gain an accurate visualization of what motivates you.
You’ll see I landed on 3 criterion per factor that were important to me for a total of 15 items. Yours will vary so download the Google sheet as a template and create your own version.
Step 2: Rate by Weight
Under the column marked “Importance Weighting”, assign a number from 1 to 5 based on how important each factor is to you, with 1 being not important and 5 being very important. This helps identify the relative weight of each so you establish a more accurate snapshot of what’s really important, independent of the actual job options.
This will constantly evolve as you walk out your work journey. Fifteen years ago I lived in the office like I didn’t have a wife because I hadn’t met mine yet. Ten years ago I was dead broke and needed to make enough money to pay bills and pretend to be an adult again. Five years ago I didn’t think much about the alarmingly obvious lack of diversity in the corporate empires I inhabited. One year ago I’d never imagine a realistic scenario where my typical day consists of writing, reading and being with my family.
Step 3: Input The Info
Now take a shot – literal or figurative – and start scoring each job by the factors you’ve already determined. Again, use numbers 1 – 5 to score them with 5 being “perfect” and 1 being “pathetic.”
I think it’s helpful and honest to begin with your current role since you know the most about the role you currently have, even if you’re leaving. Insert each category score under the “Factor Score” column and the Google sheet will automatically multiply it by your weighted score to calculate a “Total Score.”
For extra credit, you might consider comparing your current and potential job with a desired job. In other words, create a job you don’t have (yet) and try scoring it against the job you currently have and the job offer you’re considering. This is a step I didn’t do previously. I now see how I selected from my available options instead of my actual desires. Live and learn.
Step 4: Don’t Ignore The Score
What job option or offer rises to the top? Which role has the lowest scores for the factors that mean the most to you? The highest? Any surprises or deal breakers?
Be sure to look horizontal and vertical. If you’re reviewing an amazing job offer for a role that has low scores (1s and 2s) on factors that are very important (4s or 5s) you need to pump your brakes. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept the role but it does confirm a potential conflict you were likely feeling anyway.
Look at your current role to calibrate for accuracy and consider sharing this with a good friend or spouse for candid feedback.
The intangible parts of a job — autonomy, collegiality, prestige, purpose — can make an even bigger impact on our overall well-being than the easy-to-count factors like salary, benefits, and vacation time. To avoid undercounting the “soft” factors, try translating them into hard numbers. The way they add up might surprise you.Allison Rimm
While there’s not one root cause for suboptimal job choices (there is amazing research on it here, here and here) I believe there are tools and techniques we can use to minimize the chance of a bad decision. If you’ve just started a new role you should try this exercise after the first 100 days to get a gauge on what worked in your decision-making process and where you might have needed more information.
There are tons of tips on career decisions so be sure to take your time and leverage the great resources out there. In this case, Allison’s career decision framework adds tremendous value in uncovering true satisfaction drivers and silencing the noisy factors that often receive too much focus. Check out her book “The Joy of Strategy” or company website to stay enlightened.
Drop a note with feedback and be sure to share with anyone who might be in the crosshairs of a career decision that needs a bit of clarity.