by Julia Malacoff
You’ve landed a job offer. Congratulations! Now, you have to decide if you’ll accept it. Occasionally, an offer is so good that the choice is obvious, but most of the time, that’s just not the case. Every position has its benefits and drawbacks, and no two companies are exactly alike, but there are some common questions you should ask yourself and factors you should contemplate before saying yes or no to an offer. Here are six key things to consider.
Step 1: Do a gut check.
Before you think about negotiating or even get into the details, take a moment to consider your initial reaction to the offer and the job itself. “While data is important, you also want to trust your gut,” says Mikaela Kiner, an executive career coach and CEO of uniquelyHR.
“During your interviews, were you hopeful things would work out? Or, would you have been relieved if they chose someone else? Don’t dismiss concerns, even if they were just fleeting thoughts,” she says. Your instinct and intuition about whether or not a job is a good fit are usually right.
Ask yourself how you felt when you first got the offer. Was it excited? Disappointed? Something else? You answer can be incredibly revealing about whether this is the right opportunity for you or not.
Step 2: Ask yourself the big questions.
Before diving into the numbers and other specifics in the offer, you should ask yourself the following important questions, according to Dana Manciagli, a career coach and speaker: Are the tasks and responsibilities of the job something you want to do full time? Did the team and environment you will be working in seem pleasant and safe? What are the sacrifices you’re making by taking this particular job, and are any of those sacrifices things you don’t want to give up?
Basically, you want to be sure that you’re going to be happy with your day-to-day life in this new gig before getting any further along in the process. “If you feel good about your answers, then move along,” Manciagli says. “If not, ask for another meeting to get some questions answered OR communicate it is not the right position and you’ll pass. The key is not to accept or negotiate an offer if you are not willing to work there.”
Step 3: Decide if taking this position will help you advance your career goals.
If you’re job hunting, you’ve probably taken the time to think about what your career goals are. “I recommend my clients make a list of what they are looking for even before they begin searching for a job,” says Amy M. Gardner, Certified Professional Coach with Apochromatik. “If you’ve done that, go back to the list you created and evaluate the offer against the factors you initially listed.” How does this current job offer measure up in terms of opportunity to accomplish these goals?
It’s also key to look beyond financial objectives, Gardner emphasizes. Money is important, but for long-term job happiness, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. The list of questions to contemplate, Gardner says, should include: “Are there enough other areas within the organization that you can have room for advancement, even if your immediate supervisor is there for eternity? Does the company support and encourage employees to continue to learn and grow? Will you be able to get home in time for the non-work things that are important to you? Will your stress level be what you’d like it to be?” If you feel good about the answers to these questions, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Carefully evaluate the salary and benefits package.
Obviously, compensation matters. “It’s important that your needs are met by your job,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, an automated recruiting platform. “When evaluating an offer, you need to look at the entire offer, not just the salary.”
Often, the base salary alone does not provide the whole compensation picture. “It may be that the salary is $5,000 lower than you had hoped for, but the full package being offered counterbalances it,” Miklusak explains. “What does the total package contribute to your personal and financial needs? Sometimes, a job that at first glance looks like it’s paying less can actually provide more financial security than a job with a higher salary.” Take into account benefits like subsidized child care, bonus opportunities, and health care options.
Step 5: Understand who you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis.
This is easier said than done, but it’s important, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your new team. While it’s tricky to execute, if you can find out more about your future team, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision. “It’s important to ask yourself whether you will be working with the kind of people who will engage, excite, and challenge you—without driving you crazy,” Gardner says.
“Whether and how you can get to know people in advance varies depending on whether you are in the same city as the employer, what your role will be, and how big the group is. But do what you can to get a sense of your future team, because they will have a huge impact on both your job satisfaction and your success,” she adds.
Step 6: Decide whether the company is really somewhere you want to work.
If you’ve made it this far, the main thing left to determine is how well the company fits into your life, not just in terms of location and size, but also in terms of company culture. “Ask everyone you can about company culture—not just their brand, but what it’s really like to work there day to day,” Kiner recommends. “No one is going to say ‘Our culture is toxic,’ but you can figure it out through a combination of questions and observations.”
“Ask about what you’d look for in a healthy work environment. That might be access to training, how often people get promoted from within, flexibility, recognition, or teams that celebrate together,” she says. “If too many of these are missing, it’s a red flag.”
Another thing to consider is why the job is open in the first place. “I’m always cautious when a position is open because someone left the company,” says Laura Handrick, HR Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com. “If HR tells you the company is growing, that’s great! If the former person whose job you’re replacing moved up in the organization, that’s also a positive sign. But if you see job openings at this company all the time, it may be a telltale sign that it’s not a great place to work.” In other words, turnover can be an important clue as to what it’s really like to work somewhere—one you shouldn’t ignore.