No matter what your reason for seeking employment, searching for a job is hard work. It means scanning help-wanted listings, researching companies, sending out resumes and attending multiple interviews can be a lengthy process. So, if you’re like most job seekers, you’re elated — or at least relieved — when your efforts result in an offer. But before you rush to accept a position, take the time to consider it fully. Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether a job is a good fit for you:
Consider the job description. This may be the single most important factor in assessing an offer from a potential employer. Ask yourself these questions: Will you enjoy the day-to-day duties of the position? Will you be challenged? Is the level of responsibility appropriate considering your experience? Will you be able to work well with your boss and coworkers? Are you willing to make any required lifestyle changes (travel, longer hours, longer commute) that may affect your quality of life? If the answer to any of these questions is no, accepting the position might make you miserable.
Take career goals into account. Consider whether the position fits into your long-term career plan. Are you interested in the field or the company’s product? Will this job provide the potential for advancement in the area you are pursuing? You don’t want to sidetrack your future aspirations.
Evaluate the company. Is your prospective employer positioned to survive long-term? Two key issues to consider are the firm’s financial health and stability. You can do your own research by reviewing the organization’s annual report, reading analyst ratings and gathering any other relevant fiscal information available online or through the company’s corporate communication department. When addressing the stability of the firm, do your homework to find out if the company is going through any sort of financial or legal turmoil, which might make it a poor choice for employment.
Consider company culture. How well do the firm’s corporate values fit with your own? A business that expects 12-hour days when you only want to work eight is probably not a good fit for you. Although, if you’re pursuing a management role — or just beginning your career — you may need to put in extra hours to earn your stripes. Also consider the work style of your future boss and coworkers. If you enjoy operating independently but your potential manager will require you to constantly check in with him, there could be personality conflicts down the road.
Review the compensation package. How does the salary they’re offering compare to what you made in your last position? To figure out what people with your background and skills currently earn in jobs that are comparable to yours, get a copy of the 2006 Robert Half Salary Guide, which provides comprehensive data on compensation in the accounting and finance fields. (Call 800-474-4253) Next, take a look at the benefits package. How attractive or generous are the perks (stock options, tuition reimbursement, vacation, etc.)? If you’re considering two offers, these additional benefits could be the deciding factor. If an offer meets most of your requirements but doesn’t include a benefit that’s important to you — child or elder care assistance, for instance — it doesn’t hurt to ask if that perk could be included in your agreement.
Careful consideration of the issues discussed above will help you reach an informed decision to accept, negotiate or reject the offer. If, after evaluating each of these points, you are still unsure, listen to your gut. Maybe there is something about the corporate culture that makes you uncomfortable — if so, it’s probably wise to trust your instincts and decline. Accepting a new position is a big step — and you want to go into the arrangement knowing all the facts. With a thoughtful analysis of the pros and cons you’ll be prepared to make the best decision for your career.