September 11, 2022

Analyze the Offer: It’s OK To Say No © Cici Mattiuzzi

In the last two weeks, I have worked with six people who shared a similar story- job offers that seemed to come from out of nowhere. They wanted advice on whether to jump ship or to stay at their current jobs.

When I hear the same story multiple times in a very short period, I pay attention… and I worry.

Mostly, they were happy with their employment situation. Then a call came and they had to think real hard about an exciting opportunity. And it wasn’t just pie in the sky. Real offers – for more money. A lot more money. Being pursued is flattering in so many ways.

An unexpected gift lands in your lap. You wonder if it would be foolish to pass up the money they want to throw at you.

But then you have to ask: is this really a gift? Am I looking at the bottom line and missing the big picture?

Wanting more money is not enough reason to jump at an offer. There are companies out there that you do not want to work for no matter how much money they offer you. Taking a new job is a huge decision fraught with many complex details….

Why are so many people being tempted with offers now?

It is always about basic economics – supply and demand. Right now, labor demand is accelerating and companies are desperate for talent.

The number of available jobs stood at 11.2 million on the last day of July, according to the US BLS most recent data. Before the pandemic began in February 2020, the highest number of available jobs on record was 7.7 Million.

At the same time we have a record number of jobs available, the employment participation rates have declined. There are fewer people chasing the available jobs. Why? Slow population growth; reduced immigration rates; alternative paths taken (e.g., education, self-employment, mommy/daddy track); and early retirement rates during the pandemic. Some workers face obstacles to getting back to work – Covid fears, family responsibilities, burnout from excessively demanding jobs ... 3.5 million of the workers who left the labor market during the height of the pandemic have not returned to work.

Right now there is a lot of talent on the sidelines. According to Stephanie Ferguson - Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “If every unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have 5 million open jobs. We have a lot of jobs, but not enough workers to fill them.”

In some markets it is virtually impossible to hire with the unemployment rate so low. Eleven of the most populous metropolitan areas in the US, including San Francisco, Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA, had unemployment rates of 2.0 percent or lower. The national unemployment rate in August was 3.7 percent down from 5.2 percent a year earlier. US Dept of Labor Statistics July 2022 report - August 31, 2022

Add to all that, the fact that manufacturers are bringing production back to the US in response to continuing global supply chain disruptions, first from the pandemic and now from the war in Ukraine. With the supply chains broken, domestic manufacturers cannot rely on foreign suppliers for parts and components to be delivered on time. Just one obvious example is the shortage of semiconductor chips that has paralyzed the auto, appliance and computer industries.

The need to reduce dependence on unreliable supply chains has brought on a “reshoring surge.” Every day another company announces they are expanding operations in the US to counter the problem.

The labor shortage is going to get a lot worse in strategic fields, no matter what the Fed does to cool inflation and slow the hiring frenzy. You can expect further shortages in the American labor force for years to come.

Yes, some companies are laying off people. That is confusing the issue. However if you look closely, companies that are reducing their ranks are doing it after ramping up significantly during the pandemic to address increased demand for their products and services - think biotech companies, Oracle, Amazon, Zoom, to name a few. Things changed. The whole world changed in 2020…

Things are changing again and you need to analyze what is happening now to figure out how you should react.

Why are companies trying to recruit you?

Companies need talent to drive change and grow to the next level and beyond. Right now companies are on the prowl for talent. They need skilled, knowledgeable people to drive their operation – to deliver the next new thing – to take a quantum leap forward. And you are the person they want. How could you possibly refuse?

If you are getting calls it is likely that you have reached a level of credibility that comes with mastering a subject or a field. You have the right combination of education, skills and years of experience. You can look at things in 3D. It is not only about knowledge – it is about how you understand complex things and make sense of the facts beyond the obvious. And you have team, organization and leadership skills. You know how to listen, analyze, draw conclusions and make decisions. You probably have excellent communication skills and a known track record in your field. People know you are good… And they want you to join their team.

What should you do if the call comes?

It will happen when you least expect it. And it will be a powerful temptation … they will be passionate about recruiting you. To be wanted is absolutely intoxicating, and you will want to say yes at the first chance. Companies on the prowl for talent need skilled, knowledgeable people to drive their operation. And you are the person they want. How could you possibly refuse?

But wait … You need to take time to consider the decision carefully. Take a breath and think. Making a decision like this requires careful analysis.

Are you happy where you are?

This is the first question you need to ask before considering any offer. You have to be seriously motivated to move… Leaving a solid company when you are not unhappy is a really big ask… You don’t want to miss a good opportunity but you also do not want to set yourself up for failure or disappointment.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is one of the worst reasons to accept an offer. Economists call it opportunity cost – giving up one thing in favor of another… accepting one job over another. The opportunity you give up is that which you leave on the table.

What is the best way to analyze an offer?

  1. Make a list of your long term goals. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What would you like to accomplish in both your career and personal life? Write it down.
  2. Make a list of the pros and the cons of staying with your current employer.
  3. Make a list of the pros and cons of leaving your current employer.
  4. Make a list of the pros and cons of taking the new opportunity.
  5. Make a second list of rejecting the new opportunity.
  6. Create a chart/spreadsheet to compare the salary and benefits of the offers side by side.

Four of the six people I worked with over the past month who received unexpected job offers rejected the offer after careful analysis. The opportunities were significant on the surface. Then after careful analysis the decision became clear.

One person rejected the offer after doing a quantitative analysis of the choices, accept or reject.

He created three charts on Google docs:

The analysis clearly said, don't take the offer.

Another person used the same process and took the offer.

He spent time speaking with people who work at the company, finding out that they were thrilled with their jobs and liked the work/life balance. Hands down it added up to an excellent strategic move paying him a third more after negotiating the terms – significant salary increase, solid benefits, and a signing bonus that compensated him for leaving before his 401K was vested. He was also gaining a much improved work environment with people he really wanted to work with.

To be a viable option the offer in hand has to be a really good opportunity for growth - and an interesting challenge; a really positive work environment; an excellent management that empowers you and values your work process and work style; and a solid financial payoff.

Looking at all the information on your lists and charts will give you the answers you need to make a good decision.

You got this! You can make a solid decision if you do the work!

Cici Mattiuzzi is the Author of ‘The Serious Job Seeker’ and the founding director (emeritus) of the Career Services Office for the College of Engineering and Computer Science at CSU Sacramento.