Evaluating Job Offers Post A Career Break

Posted: June 19, 2013

It’s difficult to judge your monetary value in the job market post a career break. Tips for Indian women on how to evaluate a job offer.

By Manika Premsingh

A career break is sometimes inevitable for many working women in India, but there is no reason why you should not be able to get back in the game, if you so desire. However, when it comes to judging how much you should be paid, many Indian women are confused about how to evaluate a job offer after a career break. This can be a challenge even otherwise and it gets more complicated when coming back to the workforce after a career break.

If you are wondering how to evaluate a job offer post a career break, simply ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. What is the present market value of your skill set based on past experience?

The first step is to figure out the current value of the work you used to do, if you are looking for a similar job. The simplest way to do this is to increase your salary at the time you quit by the annual inflation rate since then. So, for example, you were earning Rs. 5 lakhs at the time you took a career break. If the annual inflation rate is 10%, then one year later you salary should be Rs. 5 lakhs plus Rs. 50,000 (10% increase accounting for inflation), to maintain your standard of living.

Another way is to do an informal survey of how much peers with your work experience are earning at present. Note that the definition of your peer set will change after a career break. So, your comparison will be with similar professionals with the same amount of experience as you and not necessarily your batch mates with whom you completed your final education. Keep in mind that your batch mates have also honed their expertise in their field along with the years of experience.

…do an informal survey of how much peers with your work experience are earning at present. Note that the definition of your peer set will change after a career break.

Thus, in good times, it is possible that your peer set’s value has risen much more than inflation. In this case, your income at the time of quitting adjusted for inflation can be the base level you should be willing to get hired at. In bad times, it is possible that incomes have not risen much, despite inflation. Take that into account too, when assessing your value and negotiating with companies.

Indian women can also assess their value in the job market at online job portals, since jobs listed often mention salaries that are being offered to someone of your profile. Alternatively, make use of web tools like Payscale.com that make simple assessments of your worth in a matter of minutes.

2. What kind of work are you looking for?

It is quite likely, however, that you are not looking at doing quite the same job. If you took a break because of a child, chances are that you might be looking at work from home options or part-time roles. Whatever your motivation, if you are going back in a flexible role, you might have to work out your rates based on projects or on an hourly basis. The hourly compensation is easily derived from what your actual annual compensation should be today, based on your present market value.

3. Has your career break added to your skill sets?

Whether you have had a child, travelled around the world, volunteered for a cause, or simply chilled out at home, chances are you have probably added something to yourself. So if you are looking to prove yourself as a manager, having a child could have made you more responsible, patient and capable as compared to the previous version of yourself. This is a significant acquired skill set. Similarly, if you have been travelling, you are in a position to better adapt to different people and ideas. If you have been volunteering you could have picked up a diverse set of skills depending on the work you did and if you have been spending time on yourself you might just be more aware of your own self and come from a more authentic place that any perceptive interviewer will be able to pick up. These skills are not easily quantifiable, but can be essential when negotiating a good salary package.

…unless you really need a job and now, don’t be afraid to walk out on a deal that does not seem fair.

Last, unless you really need a job and now, don’t be afraid to walk out on a deal that does not seem fair. The last thing you need is increased family responsibility (as an example) and an unfulfilling work package. But be careful – a good monetary package is important, but not the only criterion. Working women in India also need to evaluate the perks of the job, the work culture, and even the grapevine on attitudes towards women, as well as the monetary package to assess whether you should take it up.

We hope these tips help working women in India resolve some of the confusions about evaluating a job offer post a career break. Ultimately, what will determine your success in your re-integration into the workforce could boil down to a careful analysis and negotiation based on what is important for you. Wish you a successful job hunt!

*Photo credit: Tax Credits (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

Manika is an entrepreneur and the founder of Orbis Economics, a research and content organisation

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