Every offer you get will include some details and omit others. To perform a proper comparison between multiple offers and reach a good decision, you’ll need all the details for all offers. After numerous back-and-forths with several companies, I composed a checklist ideal for anyone on the verge of deciding the next stage of their career.
- Benefits: Medical, dental, vision. Yes, you’re young and healthy, but root canals are much more painful when you’re paying for them out of your pocket.
- Bonuses: Sign-on bonus, moving bonus, refresher bonus, performance bonus, yearly bonus. Some companies have them, others don’t. This affects your “total compen sation” per year.
- Career opportunities: What positions are available in the event that you earn a promotion? What is the procedure for promotions and raises? Some companies require a strict number of years of experience or qualification before you can reach specific positions.
- Culture: Dress code? Beer nights? Offsite trips?
- Equity: Stock options and restricted stock units are two that I’ve encountered. Find out the vesting conditions (when the stock actually becomes yours), and more importantly find out its value. For publically traded companies you can look up the value of each share, but for private companies 100,000 shares means nothing if you don’t know how many shares there are in total and what class your shares are (which affects your dilution). Ultimately, you want to find out what portion of the company value you are getting in the event that there is a buyout. Large and VC-funded companies will usually have less stock floating around for new hires, while smaller privately-funded companies will usually offer more stock for a lower salary. It’s up to you to determine how much you think that company (and thus, your stock) is worth. I highly recommend reading Venture Hacks’ writeup on considering offers from startups if you find yourself in that boat.
- Growth support: Will they send you to relevant conferences? Book budget? Will they pay for tuition so you can get your Master’s degree and increase your value?
- Hours: What is the company culture regarding the number of hours they’re expecting you put in? Is it a +60hr/wk sweatshop, or do they not care how late you stumble in and how early you bust out as long as your work is getting done?
- Intellectual property: Can you continue working on your open source projects on weekends? Does the company aggressively claim ownership on anything you might invent outside of the office?
- Leaving: You never know when your life might change and you have to jump ship. Keep an eye out on leaving conditions and consequences, such as having to pay back your bonuses. You don’t want to find yourself in unexpected debt.
- Perks: Free lunches, gym access and trainers, public transit pass, housing assistance, commute shuttles, relocation assistance, company events, corporate discounts. Perks don’t pay your bills, but they don’t get taxed and hopefully make you a little bit happier.
- Team: Are you working with people you will learn from and admire or a bunch of outsourced consultants struggling to not sabotage your company at every step?
- Salary: This is heavily proportional to the location and its cost of living. Your salary is worth a lot less in California than it is in Seattle where the cost of living is half, and there is no state income tax.
- Starting date: Can you take a couple of months to travel Europe before tying the corporate knot?
- Telecommuting: What is the policy for working from home? What about working abroad during an extended trip?
- Title: You might not think it matters right now, but it matters to your career. That, and salaries are often proportional to your title. Find out what positions are available in your branch of specialty and figure out what bracket they’re offering you. Big tech companies often have things like Software Engineer Level 1 (new graduate), Level 2, etc.
- Vacation: How many days of vacation per year? Personal days? Sick days?
Know what is important to you and what you’re worth
Remember that everything is negotiable. If having a beer budget is super important to you and the company really wants you on the team, figure out what it would take to make your dreams come true. Worst case scenario is they’ll say “Sorry, we can’t do that because…” and you can decide whether you still want the job or not.
(Based on my older post, Considering offers? A checklist in alphabetical order)