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If you hate your job, despise your boss, or have been out of work for any length of time it can be tempting to jump at the first job offer that comes along. Unfortunately, this can be a big mistake. BIG mistake.
Worst job I ever had was one that I accepted without doing my due diligence. On paper it was a step up. In reality due to the poor health benefits and longer hours I was actually working harder and making less money. Far worse the environment was like being in jail.
Don’t make the mistake that I did.
Before you accept a job offer do your best to ensure that the job and the company are a good fit for you. Here are five questions to consider before you make a move.
How will the size of the organization affect you? Whether large or small the size of the company often directly affects you.
There are many benefits to working for a large firm including a greater variety of training programs and career paths, more managerial levels for advancement, and better employee benefits than those offered at small firms. They also may have more advanced technologies. The downside is that, many jobs in large firms tend to be highly specialized.
Small firms offer different perks. Working for a small firm is often means more autonomy and responsibility, a closer working relationship with top management, and a chance to clearly see your contribution to the success of the organization.
A lot depends on what’s most important to you. However, before you say yes be sure that you find out specifics—like how much you will be contributing to your medical benefits̶—before you accept a job offer.
Does the job match your interests and allow you to use your skills?
It’s been said that people don’t leave jobs they leave bosses. Having heard some horror stories I believe that to be true. However, even if you love the company and your coworkers, you’ll be unhappy if you don’t like the day-to-day duties.
While determining in advance whether you will like job work may be difficult, particularly if this is a career change, the more you find out about the work the more likely you are to make the right decision when accepting or rejecting the offer. Make sure the day-to-day responsibilities are explained in enough detail during the interview process.
Another way to find out what people in certain jobs actually do is to talk to people in those positions. Find out who your friends and family know. Ask your school alumni association to make some connections. Most people are happy to give you a little time especially when they know you’re looking for information not a job.
What are the hours?
Most jobs involve regular hours during a typical workweek; other jobs require night, weekend, or holiday work. Some jobs routinely require overtime to meet deadlines or sales or production goals, or to better serve customers. While you don’t want to lead with questions about the hours required it is something that you find out about before you sign on.
It’s common knowledge that tax accountants employed by CPA firms work longer hours during tax season. However, how many extra hours often varies widely from firm to firm. While some accountants are at the office until 9 pm others end up working into the wee hours of the morning.
Another thing to consider is how available you need to be. Many companies expect their employees to be available 24/7. Others do not. Think about how the job’s work hours will affect your personal life.
Is there advancement?
The employer should be able to give you some idea of promotion possibilities within the organization. What is the next step on the career ladder? If you have to wait for a job to become vacant before you can be promoted, how long does this usually take? A job may not be as attractive if you have to wait for your boss who’s been there 10 years to retire.
It’s also important to know if the employer has a policy about promoting from within. When opportunities for advancement do arise, will you compete with applicants from outside the company? Can you apply for jobs for which you qualify elsewhere within the organization, or is mobility within the firm limited?
Again, these are not questions for the first interview, but unless you are just marking time with no plans for advancement these are things you need to know.
Is the job an overall good fit for you?
Does the organization’s business or activity align with your interests and values? It’s easier to do your best work, particularly when times get tough or stressful, when you are enthusiastic about what the organization does.
Consider the energy of the organization during the interview process. Are people rushing around or relaxed? Are they smiling or serious? If you thrive in a busy, fast-paced environment you may not be happy where the staff has a more go-with-the-flow attitude.
Look around. Is everyone else at the company 15-years-younger or 15-years-older than you? While age differences shouldn’t be a determining factor, if you have little in common with any of your colleagues it may hamper your ability to work with them.
After months of looking for a new opportunity any job offer can look like a blessing. But, do your due diligence before you say yes. As the first week of your new job comes to a close you want to be congratulating yourself on what a good move you made not wondering what you were thinking.