Ten years ago, I was fortunate to have two job offers extended to me on the same day. One was in the field in which I had a Master’s; the other was in the field in which I had a Bachelor’s. I had over two years of experience doing one job and a one month internship of experience doing the other. It was a tough decision but I was unemployed (and had been for 4 months). I needed a job. And fast.
I sat down and analyzed each job. The first job, doing institutional research at a community college, was going to challenge my mind, use my refined research skills and writing ability, was in a more formal office setting and had the perks of free classes (which was nice if I wanted to do any sort of personal development). It was in the suburbs of New Jersey, across the bridge from where I was living in Pennsylvania. The salary was good but it was a temp-to-hire position. All of it was pretty positive stuff.
Then there was the second job. It was a job as a reintegration social worker in Philadelphia (reintegration social worker is the PC title for working with adjudicated youth returning home from long term residential placement. In other words, I was going to be working with kids coming home from juvie). It was going to be a challenging job, not making a ton of money, working in West Philadelphia less than ½ hour from my apartment, travelling to Pittsburgh once a month and a pretty low salary with no real room for a raise. All of it was pretty negative stuff.
After lots of deliberation, I chose the social work job. This decision, for me, highlighted the importance of taking into account all the factors of a job before deciding on a job offer. On the surface, the community college job was a lot better than the social work job. It was safer, had more consistent hours, and would set me up for a pretty lucrative career. However, based on what I needed at the time, that just wasn’t enough. I needed more than the potential for money. So I had to look deeper than the surface. When I did that, here’s what I found:
- Insurance. The social work position was full-time and offered health and dental insurance. This was extremely important to me as I have an unnatural fear of getting seriously ill or needing major dental work. I liked the comfort of knowing that if I had to go to the doctor or fill most prescriptions, my insurance would offset a majority of the cost. I also like the fact that if I got pregnant, I was covered.
- Security. While the institutional research position was much more interesting to me, it was temp-to-hire. I would have the position for 3 months and then, if they liked me, they would hire me on full-time. Although I didn’t plan on doing anything to encourage them not to hire me, it was a chance I couldn’t take.
- Commute. The social work job was in West Philadelphia and, if the weather was bad enough, I could take a train and a bus to get to work. I couldn’t do that with the research job. No matter what the weather, I was going to have to drive. Additionally, there was a toll to go over the bridge. There was no toll associated with driving down I-95.
- Holidays. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t like my days off. The social work job was through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia so if there was a Catholic holiday, I got the day off. If there was a Federal holiday, I got the day off. All told, there were 20 paid holidays per year in addition to 3 weeks of vacation time and the ability to earn comp time. That’s a lot of time off.
- Mileage reimbursement. The cost of gas 10 years ago was way less than it is now. Even then, it was nice to get the mileage reimbursement. As long as I remember to fill out and submit my mileage reimbursement form, I would get $.32 (or whatever the Federal rate was back them) per mile driven during a pay period added to my paycheck. This helped offset the cost of gas and car maintenance. It was a huge perk that the research job did not offer.
The two years I spent at that job taught me a lot and continued me on the career trajectory I’ve been on. But if I knew then what I know now, I’m not sure if I would have made the same choice. At the time, though, it was the right decision for me, especially when you take all of the ancillary factors into consideration.
What factors do you use when deciding on a job offer?
This post was written by Jana.