Should You Accept that Job Offer?

Should You Accept that Job Offer?

8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Saying Yes

The road to a job offer is a long, twisting – and often bumpy – one.  So, after climbing all of those hills, clearing each hurdle, and edging out everyone else in the field, what do you do when you’re finally staring at the finish line, hard won job offer in hand?

You run, leap, fly across that finish line, right? Yes! That job is mine!  And let the celebrations begin.

Congratulations.  But also: hang on a second. Before you say Yes, have you taken a brief moment to gather your thoughts?  Have you stepped away from the intensity (and intense emotion) of your job search long enough to assess this job offer on its merits?  You’ve worked hard. Don’t undermine yourself now by jumping into a job that isn’t right for you.  Take a breath.  And take a look at these 8 questions that can help you determine whether this job is the best fit for you.

1. Will I make enough money to support my financial needs and goals?
A higher income may not have been the only goal in your job search.  But if you’re like most of us, compensation is an important consideration.  And understanding how much you’ll really be earning in your new job – both short term and longer term – is not as easy as it might sound.  The salary line is only the beginning.  Assess the real value of the offer by carefully scrutinizing all details of the compensation package. Make sure you understand how the financial rewards compare to your old job – and, more importantly, whether they truly meet your needs.

Are there bonus opportunities such as performance based incentive compensation plans?  If there are, ask what the typical payouts have been to employees on similar plans in the past few years.  What about raises? What are the typical annual percentage ranges for merit increases as well as cost of living increases?  Make sure you compare the answers you get to what you find on employee feedback sites like Glassdoor.com.  And be sure to read the fine print regarding how generous this employer’s contributions are to employee benefits packages.  How much of your medical insurance costs do they cover? Do they make matching contributions to retirement savings? What is their vesting schedule? Finally, if you’re relocating to a different part of the country, use online paycheck and cost of living calculators to get the real scoop on what your take-home pay will actually be – and what kind of home and lifestyle it will actually buy you in your new city.

2. Do this employer’s values align with my own?
Picture going to this new job every day.  Imagine describing your new role to friends who share your same personal values.  Does that idea fill you with pride and excitement?  It should.  When you take a job, you’re joining a team.  And you’ll be expected to enthusiastically embrace that team’s mission, goals and values.  Be sure you’re on the right team for you.

3. Will my workstyle fit well within their culture?
Employee, know thyself.  How do you work best?  Alone or on large, self-directed teams? Where do you thrive?  In environments that are always under pressure and in total chaos? Or in quiet, dignified surroundings where deadlines are known well in advance and expectations rarely change?  Formal or informal?  Innovative or traditional?  Surrounded by sunshine and large, open workspaces?  Or secluded in a quiet cubicle where you can do your best thinking?  If you didn’t get a chance to tour the area and meet potential coworkers during the interviewing process, ask for that opportunity now.  And pay close attention to what you see, hear and feel while you’re there.  You’ll be spending a massive chunk of your life in this climate.  If your work style can’t be welcomed, nurtured and accommodated there, your workplace will quickly become toxic to you.

4. Will my new work life support my lifestyle priorities?
What everyday realities will you losing and gaining with this move?  Consider geographic location, proximity to desirable perks like restaurants, natural resources, beautiful views, better office space and work time expectations. Maybe the 30% travel requirement sounded interesting when you first read it in the job description.  But where will you be traveling?  And how will that 30% away from home end up impacting your life?  Do you have young children, pets, aging parents or weekly harmonica lessons?  Jobs with significant travel expectations pull you away from those at-home priorities.  Be sure you’re ready to embrace that kind of change.  Consider everything that will change by virtue of taking this job.  If your old job allowed you to walk three blocks to the office and you’ll now be attached to your steering wheel for an hour every day, you’re signing up for a dramatic sacrifice in your daily life.  Likewise, if you went to an on-site gym or favorite salad bar every day for lunch, be sure you figure out how – and where – you’ll squeeze in those workouts or healthy meals going forward.  And ask explicitly about expectations of in-person office time.  Are you used to a hefty flex-time schedule that just isn’t part of the deal with this new employer?   

5. How do I expect this job to change me, professionally and personally?
Your new job should empower your personal growth – however you’ve defined your growth goals.  Will this job pave the way to your longer-term aspirations?  Will it keep you mentally stimulated and emotionally engaged?  Does it open up new career paths that you didn’t have before?  Will you now have access to highly respected colleagues, coaches and mentors?  Will you be exposed to opportunities that would never have come along with your previous employer?  You should be answering yes to more than one of these questions.  If they’re not, take a closer look before signing on.  It may not be worth moving to a place where you’ll soon stagnate, grow bored or lose touch with your higher goals.

6. Are these my peeps?  Can I work well with this boss and this team?
Of course, interviews are part of the courtship phase where everyone is trying to impress each other.  So you can’t expect to really know how these people will really act once you’re there.  But by now, you should have a pretty good idea.  Have interactions been respectful, honest, interesting and pleasant?  Can you picture yourself reporting to this new boss, working alongside these new coworkers, supervising your new direct reports?

7. What is this company’s track record? Is this employer stable?
No matter how enticing the job and the offer may be, don’t say yes until you’ve done your homework on the organization.  How long have they been around?  What’s their reputation?  If they’re publicly traded, you have access to a lot of financial information.  Even if they’re not, you can get a good idea of how they’re doing by researching them on sites like Glassdoor.com as well as news and social media sites.  If you see trouble, slow down and get answers.  There is no payoff for jumping onto a sinking ship.

8. What is this department’s – and manager’s -- track record?
Maybe the job sounds great.  And the company is highly respected.  But what about that layer in between – the department where you’ll be working.  Get the word on what’s going on there by searching online and by talking to people – especially those who have left.  Why’d they go?  And what kind of a person usually stays and thrives there?  Is the department becoming obsolete?  Is the manager a tyrant?  Find out about average tenure, turnover and promotional track records of the employees in the department.  And don’t be shy about asking the hiring manager about

So, now if you’re ready to say yes, Congratulations.  You deserve it.  But if your answers to these critical questions have led you to a No, well… congratulations to you, too.  You’ve just saved yourself a lot of pain. Keep working your job search and you’ll find the position that’s truly a fit for you.  That’s the job you deserve.