Don’t Say Yes Yet! The Art of Accepting a Job Offer
I know all too well the thrill of finally getting a call back from a potential employer with them saying, “Congratulations, we want to offer you ____ position!” after you’ve been searching in vain for a job, any job. You’ve been searching for so long and you’ve built up so much hope about this job that, like me, you accept on the spot, without thinking, without negotiating, and without really considering that this is your one and only opportunity to call the less spectacular parts of the job into question.
If you’re like me, you went ahead and accepted the job only to have it bite you in the butt soon afterwards.
As I learned from several overzealous job acceptances, you aren’t really in the position to change your position after you’ve accepted your position. Is that too many positions? Perhaps. But here are a few things to consider before you say “yes” to avoid getting stuck in an awkward position.
- Your commute – Are you really willing to drive an hour to work and an hour back each day? Go over the length of the commute a few times and see if it’s really something you can manage. If not, but you still consider this to be your dream job, see if there are options for you to telecommute a percentage of your work week.
- The company’s culture – If you haven’t already had the chance to visit the office or company, I highly suggest it. The vibe and energy of your potential co-workers and the space you’ll be spending approximately 40 hours a week in can only be transferred onto paper so much. I once made the mistake of moving halfway across the country for a job that, as it turned out, had an office culture that completely rubbed me the wrong way. I spent six months staring forlornly at the small scrape of sunshine I was able to see over the wall of my cubicle.
- Available shifts and flexibility – Are you more of a morning person or an evening person? Does your best work come in spurts throughout the week or are you more consistent? Is it important for you to be able to adjust your work schedule to fit other priorities and responsibilities? Ask your company about how strict your schedule is and what can be done in certain places. While many shifts can’t budge, there is a wide range of careers that offer employees the ability to better design their own work schedule.
- Time commitment inside and outside the office – Consider how much you’ll be asked to work away from your office and how that may affect your personal life. For myself, I most recently accepted a job that leaves me with 48 hours per week of personal time. I didn’t realize how much that cut into my daily needs, hobbies, and relaxation until I started to struggle with finding time to do my laundry. I’m lucky that the other parts of my job balance out this time commitment, but if I had given myself the opportunity to think more about how much of a sacrifice this job would be, I would have probably leaned closer to a “no.”
- Your compensation offer – Compare what this company is offering you to what you could get in a similar position with another company. Then compare this with the strain on your time commitment and the strain of your commute. Does this make your expenditures higher? See if there’s some wiggle room in the company’s budget to provide for your needs. This is the one time for a while that you’ll be able to negotiate your compensation.
- The number of co-workers you will directly or indirectly work with – It may seem small, but the number of people you work with on a regular basis can have a direct impact on your stress level and quality of work life. If you prefer to engage with a large group of people on a regular basis but are working with a team of two every day, this may not be your ideal position. Conversely, if you’re an independent worker who likes to have minimal collaboration throughout the day, a team-heavy environment would also not bode well.
- When to start (or quit your other job) – Give yourself the time you need to make your transition, whether that requires quitting a new job or giving yourself some mental preparation to enter a new field. Your new employer may not want you to start much later than the start date they give you, but you never know until you ask, and emphasizing how important it is for you to be able to make a smooth transition will go a long way.
Over everything else, before you accept a job consider why you applied – is this where you want your career to go, or is this something to fill in the time? While bills do need to be paid, evaluating if this job is something that you’ve actually been striving for can effect your attitude coming into a new position or continuing the search.