So, you’re hunting for a job and getting multiple offers. Should you go with the clinic offering a shiny $50k sign-on bonus? Or the one offering the highest base salary?

When evaluating job offers, there are many factors to consider. Pay, benefits, location, and clinic culture are just a few things to think about when deciding where to work.

Don’t look only at the salary

When evaluating job offers, it’s tempting to focus solely on how much money is going into your pocket each month. However, if you’re looking at the salary alone, you might be missing out on other non-direct forms of compensation.

Look at the full compensation package. This includes things like insurance coverage, retirement matching, paid time off, continuing education stipend, student loan assistance, and license and membership reimbursement. A position may offer a lower base salary, but the monetary value of their benefits may be higher. (We have a blog that goes more in-depth on this topic.)

Spend time at the practice

Most people spend about 30% of their waking hours at work during their career. That’s a good chunk of time. You will want to do your best to ensure it’s in a place that fits your personality and work ethic. All the money in the world cannot make a bad work environment bearable.

Do your due diligence by spending time at the practice. Observe how the practice handles patient care, client interactions, and emergencies. Pay attention to the practice’s culture, the dynamics between the staff, and the overall workflow.

The best way to get a good idea of whether a practice is a good fit is to observe during a busy shift. Are people getting stressed? Is communication breaking down? Or is the practice functioning like a well-oiled machine?

A supportive and well-organized practice can make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction.

Talk to former employees

While spending time at the practice and talking to the people there can help you get a feel for the culture and values of that practice, speaking with former employees can often net you some more honest feedback about the good aspects of working there and some things that you should watch out for.

Reach out to former employees through networking sites such as LinkedIn. Ask about their experience at the practice with professional growth and support, their reason for leaving, and any challenges they faced while working there. Most people are happy to share and their feedback can help you make a more informed decision.

Look closely at the contract

Finally, you will want to look at what is actually in the contract. It’s also not a bad idea to have it evaluated by a legal professional.

Here are a few things you should look out for:

Compensation and Benefits:You want to be sure that all financial aspects are clearly defined, including base salary, bonuses, and benefits. Is the role production-based? If so, how is it calculated and paid out? Check out our blog on this topic.

Schedule: Make sure that the schedule is also specifically laid out. Will you be expected to work holidays and weekends? Are the exact hours and days per week mentioned? You will want to know if the workload is manageable and aligns with your goals.

Non-compete Clauses:While these are becoming less common, you still want to keep an eye out for the non-compete, which could restrict your ability to work in the same area if you decide to leave the practice.

Sign-on Bonuses: As non-competes make their way out, the sign-on bonus is becoming more common. If the practice is offering you a sign-on bonus, be sure to read the fine print in the contract. Is the bonus pro-rated? Will you be required to pay the entire bonus back if you leave the practice before the required time is up?

Professional Development: Does the practice offer a mentorship program? If mentorship is important to you, you will want to see the structure of that laid out in the contract. Watch out for vagueness or anything that could be left open to interpretation.

Thoroughly evaluating a job offer seems like a lot of work. And it is. But, it could potentially save you a lot of stress and headaches down the road if you manage to avoid a workplace that doesn’t fit your work style or goals.

By considering the full compensation package, spending time at the practice, talking to former employees, and scrutinizing the contract, you can make a well-informed decision that sets you up for success and satisfaction in your veterinary career.

Meredith Jones, DVM, CSLP®, AFC®