7 Things to Ask When You Have to Choose Between Jobs

Here's how to choose the job that is right for you—financially and otherwise.

If you are in the market for a job and are in a position to choose between two of them, there can be a lot to consider. That's especially true if you are looking to be more intentional with your job search and want to find a position that is right for you both financially and in terms of work-life balance.

Sifting through corporate jargon and asking questions to a potential employer about benefits and pay can be daunting, especially if you're early in your career. But it doesn't have to be—after all, you are interviewing them just as much as they're interviewing you. Here are some questions to ask a company (and yourself) when you're deciding between two jobs.

01 of 07

What is the ideal salary for the position?

"When it comes to evaluating—and ultimately choosing between—jobs, it's important to understand the complete package, financial and otherwise," says career coach Kristen Zavo. "The best way to ensure that the job is the best decision financially is to do the work before getting the offer."

Zavo suggests coming up with a budget and deciding on a minimum and desired compensation level that would best suit your budget and lifestyle. "In addition, before getting too far along in the job search process, job seekers must do their research on income ranges for their ideal jobs in their geographic location," says Zavo. "If it's not a match, one can explore other options that will meet their financial goals."

02 of 07

What percentage of benefits is cost-shared with the employer?

When looking through the benefits offered by each company, see how much of the benefits they cover. "The portion the employer covers will significantly impact the take-home pay you receive," says Annette Harris, owner of Harris Financial Coaching. "This could include medical, dental, vision, and life insurance costs."

Having a thorough understanding of the benefit structure can help you decide which job is giving you the most comprehensive or competitive package.

"Don't forget to ask about things like life insurance as well as short- and long-term disability," says Mikaela Kiner, career coach and founder of HR consulting firm, Reverb. "You may never need to use them, but if you do, you really want those plans to be solid."

Harris suggests asking if there is a waiting period that could affect your eligibility to receive short-term disability payments.

03 of 07

Does the company offer 401k matching?

Planning for retirement is an important part of your financial future—and company benefits like 401(k) matching could make all the difference in the long run.

401(k) matching is when an employer contributes a certain amount into your 401(k) account based on your yearly contributions.

"With the competitiveness of job offers currently, I advise all my clients to ask in a way that they are assuming there is a match," says Brian Carlson, CFP.

Carlson also suggests asking whether there is a vesting period. The vesting period refers to how long it takes for you to be fully vested in your account, meaning you own all the money in there.

While you own the money you contribute into a 401(k), you must be fully vested to claim what your employer contributes. Depending on your company's plan, vesting typically takes three to six years.

04 of 07

What is the company's bonus structure?

Ask if bonuses are given, and if so, how often. "Bonus payments are not always guaranteed, but each company's bonus structure can vary significantly and could help you decide to accept a lower-paying offer," says Harris.

Be sure to find out the range and average amount of a bonus, too. Kiner says additional details to look out for include: when you would be eligible for a promotion, how often people are promoted internally, and the average pay raise for a promotion.

05 of 07

What kind of stipends does the company offer?

See if there are any stipends or reimbursements offered by each company. Some common options include:

These work perks can help make a company stand out—especially when you're choosing between two. Additional stipends like these are indicative of the company's culture and your experience as an employee. Plus, they can save you money. For instance, a tuition reimbursement program not only helps you grow professionally—it can save you thousands of dollars.

"Advanced degrees can cost thousands of dollars, and if the company contributes a portion towards your education, this can reduce your out-of-pocket spending for tuition-related fees," says Harris.

06 of 07

What are the costs involved in having this job?

This is a question to ask yourself as you choose between two jobs. Evaluate the cost of commuting, benefits, and the hours you are expected to work to see which opportunity is the best fit for your lifestyle and finances.

"Consider the costs associated with any particular job that might not be readily apparent," says Zavo. "For example, the financial load between two comparable roles—one that is remote and one that requires in-office time—can be wildly different when factoring in commute, lunches out, clothes, and even the cost of the time it takes to get ready and drive back and forth."

If the company does compensate you for things such as commuting or offers free childcare and flexible work hours, then some of these costs even out and make the opportunity more competitive.

07 of 07

Am I willing to accept less money for a dream job?

It's understandable to take a job based on what will be best for your career in the long run. If it comes down to it, see what changes you need to make in your spending to accommodate a job you really want but might be offering less money.

"We often assume we need to make the same or more money to maintain our current lifestyle," says Kiner. "You may find you'd rather be a bit more frugal to take a job you love with more purpose and lower pay rather than a stressful one with a higher salary."

When you're choosing between two jobs, don't be afraid to ask questions and take time to evaluate which opportunity will be the best for you. You deserve an opportunity that is both financially secure and supports you as a whole person.

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