So you've succeeded in navigating the long, demoralizing, painstaking process of landing a job offer. Congratulations!

Chances are the first thing you'll want to do is share the good news with family, friends and mentors -- and get their take on whether you should accept it.

But wait! Picking up the phone too soon can be a serious mistake. Why?

The only person’s values you want driving your career decisions are your own.

And until you clarify what's most important to you, it's best to avoid input from others that could muddle your decision-making process, or possibly bind you to satisfying their preferences over yours.

For example, your family likely values your safety and security, which influences their guidance on whether you should accept that higher paying, prestigious, stable job offer. Whereas your friend who recently left her Fortune 500 job for a startup may nudge you to reject a stable offer.

But the best predictor of your future happiness isn’t whether the job would impress, soothe or feel right to others -- it’s how the job aligns with your values.

To help our coaching clients tackle the challenging endeavor of checking in with themselves before seeking the advice of others, Next Step Careers developed an Offer Evaluation Matrix which simplifies the decision-making process in a few key ways:

  • It enables you to effectively compare your offer(s) to your current position within the context of what's most important to you -- and decreases the likelihood that you'll be influenced by others or parts of an offer that aren’t sincerely important to you at this time (e.g. a job title or on-site gym).
  • It gives you a concise one-page document to share with others so that when you ask "What should I do?", they can ground their guidance in a concrete view of the details and your values. Instead of offering an opinion, they can help make sure you stay true to your values, tease out values tradeoffs, offer personal learnings, or shed light on assumptions with strong questions like “What examples exist to prove this job better positions you to achieve your long-term goals?”
  • Ideally, it helps you gut check whether you're pulled one way or another, setting the stage for negotiating. After you’ve compared your options side by side you can ask yourself, "What would need to change about option A or option B to sway my decision?" This becomes your negotiating goal to use when circling back with your current or prospective employer.

Here's a brief outline of the process, or email our team to request the full matrix.  

First, write out the details of your options side by side in key categories.

It’s important to list all attributes that are important to you. The NSC matrix includes categories such as Financial Package, Job Description, Opportunities for Growth/Advancement, Long-Term Goal Alignment, Stress Level, Hours/Flexibility/Balance, Travel, Location/Commute, Manager Quality, Company Mission, Company Leadership, Brand/Prestige/Title, and Office Environment.

If there are details you’ve left blank because of incomplete information (e.g. your offer didn't include benefits information or a job description), follow up with the company, your network, or conduct online research to get answers to those questions -- you can't fully consider an offer otherwise.

Then, rank order your categories from most to least important.

This is where you choose your values.

Values are defined as "what's most important in one's life," and you want to ask yourself:

"In the coming 2-5 years, which aspects of my job are non-negotiable, which are highly important, and which would I sacrifice for others?"

No position is perfect and every job requires values tradeoffs. But by clarifying what matters most to you, you start to get a much clearer sense of which opportunity will more likely lead to your fulfillment.

Once you’ve completed the exercise you can pick up the phone and rest assured that you’ve checked in with the right person first before opening up the discussion to your peanut gallery.

And ideally this exercise not only helps us put our values at the forefront of our career decision making -- it also helps us keep in mind that the next time a friend or family member comes to us for guidance, we may want to ask what’s most important to them before chiming in.