5 Things to Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer

You received a job offer! All that hard work and networking finally paid off. Good for you! So what happens next? Well, you accept the offer, right? Depends…

WHAT do you mean, “depends?” After all, a job’s a job. How can anyone turn down ANY position in this economy?

True, the high unemployment rate makes it hard to say no to the first company that invites you into the fold, but you have to remember you’re launching a career. Unlike the jobs you had in college, your new job must not only have the potential to lead to bigger and better things, but it also has to keep you mentally stimulated AND happy. Nothing worse than being chained to a job that bores you (or worse, you hate) all because you impetuously took a wrong turn early on in your career.

So before you jump too hastily at that first job offer, take a moment to consider these five soul-searching questions to help you stay focused on your career path.

  1. Is This What You Really Want?
  2. Or is this something you think you should take because it was the first thing offered to you? Sometimes when you apply for a job the position that you’re eventually offered is not what you thought it would be. For example, the job duties may be less demanding or the pay could smaller than you thought, making you possibly overqualified. Or maybe the pay is good, but the work bores you. Whatever the reason, if your intuition warns you that this is not the right job for you, then don’t take it. Even if your parents or spouse tell you you’re crazy to pass on it, remember, you’re the one who has to show up and do the work 40 hours a week. If you’re not happy doing it, that’s time you can never get back.

  3. Does This Job Fit With Your Long-term Career Goals?
  4. Even if the job sounds like a blast, and the pay is pretty good, ask yourself, “Does it support my long-term career plan”? For example, are there career growth opportunities within the company or can this job be a steppingstone that leads to bigger and better positions at more high profile businesses? Don’t commit to a dead end job just because you think you have to. Make sure your first job is something that allows you to stay focused on your career goals, otherwise you may have to backtrack later to get back on the right path.

  5. Can You Live With the Company Culture
  6. Company culture is a huge consideration. For example, if you’re a laid back person and your offer is for a really high-stress job, are you going to be happy? And on the flipside, if you’re a Type A personality and everyone at the company works at a snail’s pace will you be frustrated by the end of your first week? Starting work at a new company is like joining a family—if’s not a good fit to begin with, chances are it will just get worse from there.

  7. Who Will You Be Working For?
  8. And speaking of good fits, consider your boss before you take a new job. Is this someone you can ask questions of, learn from, and be honest with? You may not know your boss’s personality right out of the gate, but you should have some sense of who he or she is just from your interview. If you suspect your new boss is simply going to throw you into the thick of it with very little support, you may want to either pass on the job, or if you do decide to take it, inquire if there are other mentors within the company you can rely upon.

  9. Are the Salary and Benefits Reasonable?
  10. You’d be foolish not to expect to be paid what you’re worth in your new position. With the economy still in bad shape many employers are trying to hire at less than market value, and sometimes without benefits. If possible, hold out for what you’re worth. If you want to compromise, agree to work for less for a certain provisional period, but then let the company know that you expect a raise that puts in you a reasonable pay range (get that in writing). Whatever you do, DON’T agree to work for free under the guise of an internship. The Department of Labor is currently cracking down on businesses that are misusing internships to get free labor. Check with the DOL’s Internship Policy before agreeing to do any job for free, no matter how much a company promises your internship will boost your career.

Just because someone invites you to the party doesn’t mean you have to go. Holding out for the right job offer may seem crazy right now, but in the long run you’ll be much happier working at a job that’s just right for you.

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