The Job Search: Reviewing Offers

You’ve made it: You’ve finally gotten an offer. Congrats!

Now what?

It’s time to review your offer. For many positions, this will be fairly standard and easy, but it’s still best to come up with a list of questions to ask yourself as you review:

Is this job what I’m looking for?

Wow, sounds obvious, right? You just spent all this energy applying to and interviewing for this position, but the way a position is sold by an interviewer versus how it is portrayed on paper can sometimes be different. This is the time to:

  • Get your official job description, and make sure it matches up with what you think you’re being hired to do;
  • Get your official salary/pay rate and pay period;
  • Get your list of benefits, including vacation and, if applicable, health insurance, 401k, stock options, and others;
  • Confirm job location, hours, working conditions, and ask any remaining culture/fit questions. Glassdoor is a great resource, but so is the company’s own HR person.

Do the realities of this job fit in with my lifestyle and goals?

I realize this is a privileged question to ask, but even if you’re hard-pressed for money, this is still an important consideration. A job that may not offer you the flexibility to care for your kids may not be an appropriate job for you. That being said, this is the time to ask for that flexibility in hours, or other working considerations you may need.

Is the salary in line with what I want/need?

This is probably the first time you’ve come to face with the proposed salary for the position. Is it what you asked for? Is it what you need? This is the time to evaluate your proposed salary alongside your benefits package, as well as against your own lifestyle. Often there is room to negotiate, and negotiation is expected in salaried jobs. The worst a hiring manager can say to your request for more money is “no,” and even then, there might be wiggle room in vacation days, benefits, etc. Establishing the salary you want now is critical—many bonuses and raises are based on a percentage of current salary, so by not advocating for yourself now, you’re missing out on money down the line. This is also the time to ask how those bonuses and raises work, too.

Is this what I want to do?

At this point, you won’t have all the information—you haven’t worked for the company yet, so you won’t really know what your new coworkers are like, or how a “flexible leave policy” works in action. But you should ask enough questions and get enough information to form an informed view of the work, which you should measure against all the work you did earlier to identify your “dream” job and/or lifestyle. Does this job get you closer to your ideal? Where does it fall short, and are those shortcomings acceptable? (All jobs will fall short, I promise.) How can you learn and grow in this role and/or at this company? Is this a short-term job or a long-term career? You may not have all the answers, but even educated guesses will help you evaluate and grow in your decision-making and pivoting down the line.

Go with your gut

Intuition is critically important to decision-making, and it may pick up on things we can’t quite figure out in our conscious mind. If you gut is telling you to go for something and you can’t see any critical reason why not (and sometimes, even if you can), do it. More importantly, if your gut is telling you NOT to do something, don’t do it. Sometimes red flags are very hard to spot, and if your gut is telling you they exist, it’s worth it to trust that feeling. Better to avoid a bad situation than find yourself working too hard in one, or going through all that work just to quit a few weeks later.

Ultimately, you’re the only one who is going to be able to decide whether an offered position is right for you. At the job offer stage, remember to ask as many questions as you need to make sure you have all the necessary information (and to make sure your contract is acceptable and correct!) before you sign on the dotted line. But once everything is in line and a compromised has been reached…congratulations! You’re hired.

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