You applied, you interviewed — and you got the job offer. Congratulations!
It’s exciting, but don’t accept just yet. Right now, it’s in your best interest to hit pause — and make sure the new job aligns with your personal and professional goals.
Not sure where to start? Here’s what career experts say you should ask yourself so you can decide if you want to accept a job offer.
IS THIS WHAT I WANT FOR THE NEXT PHASE OF MY CAREER?
Before you can determine if the role is a fit, you need to understand your motivation for seeking a new job in the first place.
“You must be clear about why you are looking,” says Felice McEuen, partner and senior personnel consultant at Avanti Staffing in Chicago. “More money? More challenge? A different career path?” It’s also important to consider if the new environment suits your work style. Ask yourself questions like: What kind of environment do I thrive in? Do I prefer to work as an individual contributor, part of a team, or both?
“I like to suggest following your curiosity instead of looking for your passion,” says Wilma Nachsin, cofounder of Life Working, a company that offers career coaching and resume services. “What piques your curiosity professionally? Will you be able to give some of your attention to this topic at work? Can you incorporate this interest into special projects?”
If the new role requires you to woo new clients but your true calling is marketing analytics, you probably won’t be happy. Ask for a detailed job description and, when in doubt, talk to the hiring manager and ask questions to get a feel for what your duties will entail.
AM I A GOOD MATCH FOR THE COMPANY CULTURE?
You wouldn’t jump into a relationship with a romantic partner without determining if you’re compatible. Same goes for committing to a new employer.
“The last thing you want to do is start job hunting again after starting a new position,” Nachsin says. “Remember not to cut corners and to do your research about the company.”
Ideally, your research would have begun during the interview, with questions like: Why is the position open? Would I be replacing an incumbent, or is this a brand-new role? You can also reach out to people you know within the company, or seek new connections on LinkedIn, to get the inside scoop on company culture.
One of Nachsin’s clients interviewed at a company she admired for years, but after speaking with former employees on LinkedIn, “what she discovered was sobering,” Nachsin says. “She was told that the work culture was toxic, there was no training or professional development, and the primary management tool was fear of making mistakes — an obvious deal breaker for our client.”
If you don’t have a clear picture of the corporate culture from your interview rounds, Nachsin says you still have an opportunity after receiving an offer. Don't be afraid to ask questions like, “How are mistakes acknowledged and resolved? What makes you love coming to work? Can you share examples of the company’s mission statement in action?”
DO THE SALARY AND BENEFITS CUT IT?
Even if a company offers more than what you’re earning in your current job, they could be lowballing you based on what a typical salary is for professionals in your field. And many job hunters — especially women — shy away from negotiating and leave money on the table, Nachsin says.
“The best time to negotiate is when the company is eager to bring you on board,” she says. “The compensation initially offered is rarely the best they can do.”
On the other hand, it’s important to be realistic and support your negotiation with data, not just your own feelings. “Salary expectations should be based on what the market rate is, not what an individual's monthly financial obligations are,” says Jacqueline V. Twillie, president of ZeroGap.co and author of “Don't Leave Money on The Table: Negotiation Strategies for Women Leaders in Male-Dominated Industries.”
Beyond salary, take a close look at the rest of the compensation package. Examine everything from health benefits (including dental, vision, disability leave and parental leave) to 401K matching to vacation and sick time. If you’re interested in professional development, ask if the company offers tuition reimbursement or funding to attend conferences — many of these perks are likely to be negotiable.
DOES THIS JOB FIT WITH MY LIFESTYLE?
How long would you spend commuting? Do you have the option to work remotely? How much will you be required to travel? A job that requires extensive time away from home might not be right for a new parent or someone who simply doesn’t enjoy the hassle of work travel. But a job where there’s no travel at all could grow dull quickly for an employee with wanderlust.
AM I JUST TRYING TO GET OUT OF A BAD SITUATION?
It can be tempting to jump if you’re trying to flee a toxic workplace. But if you move too quickly — or you’re ignoring a bad gut feeling you have about the new job — you may discover that the grass isn’t always greener.
Remember: You’ll rarely go wrong if you do your due diligence and trust your instincts.
“Even if everything lines up and looks good on paper, there is no sure way to absolutely know that a job will be the perfect fit for you,” Nachsin says. “Anything can change at any time: management, mergers and who knows what else. Sit with the job offer, pay attention to how you feel about the job and company, and you will get a feel for the right decision.”