Congratulations! You’ve got the job! In your excitement over receiving a job offer, don’t forget to evaluate the opportunity with a critical eye. In this economy, it’s easy to feel like you should jump at any job offer that comes along. But that could land you in a job that isn’t a good fit or even harms you professionally, so it’s critical to think it through before accepting any offer. We’ve compiled a list of things you should do and think about before accepting a job offer:
1. Get it in writing. If you’re offered a job, ask for the details, salary, etc. in writing. This is especially important if the offer includes extras like relocation assistance or your new employer’s agreement to give you an additional week of vacation. Getting the offer in writing covers you in case there’s a misunderstanding later. It also guarantees the agreement will stick even if the person you’re dealing with leaves the company and their replacement doesn’t know anything about the special deal you negotiated.
2. 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? If not, now is the time to ask.
3. Evaluate the salary. You probably have a salary range in mind, one that’s reasonable and that you’re willing to accept. If the offer is below this range, now is the time to negotiate a higher salary. Make sure you base any negotiation on your research about market rates for this type of job, for someone with your skill set and background in your area and not on an arbitrary number that you’d like to get.
4. Evaluate the benefits. A great benefits package can certainly help to make up for a lower salary, especially if you’re saving money on health care, allowed to work a flexible schedule or getting more vacation time than you’d anticipated. Take all of these things into consideration.
5. Consider the workplace culture. If the office is formal and you go crazy in an uptight environment, or if it’s an aggressive, competitive environment and you’re more low-key, this might not be a comfortable fit for you. You’ll spend a large portion of your life at this job, so be honest with yourself about how happy you’ll be there.
6. Look at the big picture. How will this job fit in with your overall career path? Will it move you forward on your path, or take you on a detour you might rather avoid? Even if it’s not the path you expected to take, could this job become a stepping stone to a position that interests you? What will be your next logical step when it’s time to leave this job?
7. Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Whether it’s your interactions with your potential boss or details about your daily responsibilities, pay attention to your instincts.
8. Ask for time to think it over. This is especially important if you’re not 100 percent sure you want to take the job. A reasonable employer should give you at least a few days before you make a decision. Use this time wisely. The worst move you could make is to take the wrong offer.