By Alison Green
In this economy, it’s easy to feel like you should jump at any job offer that comes along—but doing that could land you in a job that would make you miserable and could even harm you professionally. So in your excitement over receiving a job offer, don’t forget to evaluate whether this is really the right opportunity for you. Here are crucial factors to consider before you say yes.
- Evaluate the salary. You likely have a salary range in mind, one that’s based on market rates and that you’re willing to accept. If the offer is below this range, now is the time to try to negotiate a higher salary.
- Evaluate the benefits. A generous benefits package can make up for a lower salary, especially if you’re saving money on health care, permitted to work a flexible schedule, or getting more vacation time than you’d anticipated.
- Evaluate the culture. If the workplace is formal and you prefer a relaxed environment, or if it’s an aggressive, competitive culture and you’re more low-key and reserved, this might not be a comfortable fit for you. You’ll spend a large portion of your waking life at this job, so make sure you’ll be happy there.
- Evaluate the manager. Remember the old saying that “people leave bosses, not jobs.” No matter how much the work appeals to you, a terrible manager can make coming to work incredibly unpleasant. Make sure the manager is someone you’ll be glad (or at least willing) to work with.
- Evaluate the job itself. Be honest with yourself about whether the work is something you’ll excel in. Stretching yourself is good, but you don’t want to bluff your way into a job you’re not actually qualified for. If the work doesn’t play to your strengths, you’ll struggle and could end up harming your reputation or even getting fired.
- Look at the big picture. How will this job fit in with your overall career path? Will it move you forward in the right direction, or take you on a detour you’d rather avoid? Even if it’s not the path you expected to take, could this job become a stepping stone to a position that excites you? What will be your next logical step when it’s time to move on?
- Ask any outstanding questions. Do you have a good grasp on the manager’s style, the culture, and exactly what you’ll be expected to achieve? Do you know what the typical hours are and whether much travel will be involved? If not, now is the time to ask.
- Listen to your gut. Unless your instincts often steer you wrong, you should pay attention if your gut is setting off alarm bells. If something doesn’t feel right, whether it’s your interactions with your prospective boss or the details about your daily responsibilities, pay attention.
And remember to always get every detail of a job offer in writing. Otherwise, you won’t have much recourse if you start the job and notice that the insurance premium you thought would be covered actually isn’t, or that the relocation stipend you were promised suddenly shrinks. Getting these details in writing covers you in case there’s a misunderstanding later, and it guarantees the agreement will stick even if the person you’re dealing with leaves the company and her replacement doesn’t know anything about the special deal you negotiated.