One of my favorite types of coaching is when someone is trying to figure out whether or not to accept a job offer. Suddenly, after perhaps months of job search, you’re faced with a choice that feels huge: Is this really the job I’ve been waiting for? What if I make a mistake?
The tricky part is that a job that seems great on paper — and one in which someone else would thrive — might not be the right job for you after all. Or a job that perhaps doesn’t seem quite enough, might have less obvious factors you absolutely need to consider when deciding your future.
10 things to consider before you accept an offer
As you go through the interview process, you learn more about the company and job. What seemed pretty straight-forward at first, may get a lot more complicated as you weigh the factors. Here are some things (in increasing order of importance) to add to your job offer pros and cons list:
10. Company – It seems so simple, but is this a company you really want to be part of? Have you researched it enough? Culture. Growth potential. Any financial problems? Google search. Glassdoor. Google alerts. Maybe even Yelp. Make the effort now, not only for your personal knowledge, but for any final questions you might need to ask.
9. Boss and team – Hopefully your interviews allowed you to meet your boss and at least some team members. This is a good time to let your instincts speak to you about any potential issues. Does the boss seem to be a micromanager? (Your research may also help with this.) Do they seem welcoming to you and your ideas? Do you get a good feel or is something telling you beware?
8. Responsibilities – Think about the job itself on a daily basis. Does it make good use of your skills? If there is travel, will that really work for you? Scope of job? Autonomy or lack of autonomy? Enough variety for you? Potential boredom factors? Are you in way over your head?
7. Room for growth – A job that lets you learn and grow may offer compensating factors for a salary that’s lower than you would like. Higher salary, lower growth is usually not as good for a career as a job that offers you a chance to gain valuable knowledge & skills and advance within the company.
6. Salary & benefits – A lot of people think this is the number one factor, and I guess for some it may well be. But if all the other factors are in place, think long and hard before letting a low offer stop you. Or a high offer win the day.
There may be important things you can learn / accomplish in this job that can help you rise quickly later on either there or elsewhere. But, of course, also fight for what you want to begin with … using determination and respectful negotiation to try to get the offer and/ or offer package improved, if at all possible.
5. Location / commute time – What seems doable at first, can wear thin after months or years — especially during harsh winters or scorching summers. So while a good job is worth some extra commute time, make sure you are not saying yes to something that will drive you crazy and keep you from doing well in the job.
4. Work / life balance – Do the company policies seem worker-oriented? Are the hours relentlessly long and / or without compensating factors like free lunch (is lunch actually allowed?), adequate time off, flexibility for personal needs on occasion, possible profit-sharing, etc. What about the environment and how it affects you? Again, your research can help shed some light on this. So can talking to current and former employees.
3. How it fits into your career path – Let’s say you’re trying to balance things like salary, conditions, job responsibilities, and challenges. And lets say another job seems a lot spiffier on all counts. But something tells you the first job will let you gain a critical skill toward the career path you want.
That is a big factor, even with a smaller salary. Just make sure you’ve explored how real that potential is with your boss-to-be and by talking to people who work there now or have worked there previously.
2. Red flags – Sometimes after being out of work a long time, just being wanted feels euphoric. But if the boss seems like a potential bully or the department has lots of turnover or they aren’t clear about exactly what you’ll be doing or your hours (and proper pay), run don’t walk. I get too many comments from people who feel trapped in a horrible job!
Last but definitely not least:
1. Instincts — gut feel – You may be surprised to see this as the #1 thing to consider. But from my own experience and from people I’ve coached, there is often something you feel almost from the first moment you enter the building and/or meet with someone from the firm. Your questions and interviews can help you make sense of your feelings, but if the gut keeps giving you warning signs, take it very seriously!
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