It finally happened. After months of interviewing, you finally hear three magical words: you got the job. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back and celebrate conquering the interview process, outperforming the other candidates, and the fact that you have a shiny offer letter in your hands. But you still have an important decision to make—are you going to accept the offer?
We spoke to Michele Lee Clarke-Ceres, a Connecticut-based career coach and the host of the podcast The Global Advocate Career. She has more than 15 years of experience helping clients reach their career goals. Here are the questions she tells her clients to ask themselves before saying yes to any job offer:
- Have you done all your research?
- Is it the right culture fit?
- Are there growth opportunities within the company?
- Will you be able to bring your authentic self to work?
- Why should you accept the job?
Have you done all your research?
Lee Clarke-Ceres says that the first question you should ask yourself is “Do you really know everything about this company?” Before accepting an offer, ensure that you have exhausted all forms of research. She asks, “What have you done to explore information outside of what you read on the website?” Platforms like Glassdoor and Indeed are good places to start to get an understanding of what working at the company could be like. You might even get a sense of why people choose to leave. Remember, much like a first date, companies try to present themselves in the most positive light throughout the interview process. So what better way to get to know your (potential) future employer than seeing what their exes have to say?
Lee Clarke-Ceres also recommends checking out their social media presence. This will give you a sense of what’s important to them, their values, and how they interact with the world. Have they taken a stance on issues that are important to you? How do they interact with their community? All of this will provide you with a better insight into who the company really is.
Is it the right culture fit?
Many candidates ask themselves throughout the interview process how they’ve presented themselves. But what they should be asking is, how did the company present itself? Lee Clarke-Ceres recounts a client dealing with a recruiter who was extremely rude and disorganized during their first meeting. Her advice? Be wary of accepting a job when the gatekeeper to the organization treats you poorly. It could reflect less-than-ideal company culture and says a lot about the kind of person the company is amenable to hiring.
Things like the values of the company, the friendliness of the interviewers, and the transparency of the process will likely reveal important information about the culture. If each interaction with the company has been extremely positive and you feel that you would be excited to work with the people you’ve met throughout the process, this is a good sign that the company is a match.
Are there growth opportunities within the company?
Kimberly Tyler Smith, the VP of Strategy and Growth at Resume Worded, a career tech platform that helps professionals optimize their LinkedIn profiles and resumes, cites the importance of growth opportunities. “If you’re looking to move up in your career, then make sure that this company has room for advancement and will help you get there by offering training and mentoring opportunities.”
A great salary and benefits package is important, but make sure that this company is willing to invest in your career. You could be spending the next few years in this role, so it’s important to consider if there are ample opportunities for advancement.
Do people regularly get promoted? Are leadership roles often filled internally? Is there a budget for learning and development? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, speak up before making a decision. Your next career move shouldn’t be comparable to hitting a brick wall, so if you’re getting a lot of no’s then it might not be the best next step.
Will you be able to bring your authentic self to work?
Lee Clarke-Ceres tells her clients to work for a company where they are encouraged to be themselves. This means you should feel comfortable expressing your opinions, questioning the status quo, and bringing your unique background and experience to the role. This is a difficult thing to look for but Lee Clarke-Ceres advises you to be observant during your interviews. Are people generally open to your ideas or do they seem dismissive? Did you speak to different kinds of people during the process or do they all seem like cookie-cutter variations of the same person?
Many companies pay a lot of lip service to diversity and inclusion, but it’s up to you to determine if they truly embody it. No matter what your background is, you should feel comfortable and accepted wherever you work, so this is an essential thing to consider before accepting the offer.
Why should you accept the job?
“Don’t accept a job for the wrong reasons,” says Lee Clarke-Ceres. “However, the wrong reasons look different for every person,” she explains. If salary is the deciding factor for you, then that’s the right reason. If the job corresponds with your career goals, then that’s the right reason. Accepting a job for the wrong reason means compromising on your values, working somewhere that will make you miserable, or sacrificing your mental health for a new role.
Lee Clarke-Ceres recommends sitting down and taking some time to really figure out why you would accept the job. Ask yourself the right questions, write out a list of pros and cons, talk to friends and family, and really make sure that this is the best choice for you. Because one thing is clear from this job offer: you’re marketable. Companies want to work with you. If you’ve managed to land one offer, you’ll probably get another one. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting the first thing that comes along. The War for Talent has not ended.
Competition for top talent is fierce. So know your worth, be confident in your decision, and choose a job that satisfies all of your requirements.
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