After job searching for a while, it’s easy to get overly excited about the first offer you receive. Especially if you’ve been out of work during your job search, it can feel like a no-brainer to immediately agree to the first offer that you get. But, saying yes to the wrong position or the wrong workplace can put you in a world of hurt down the line. Although it can be tempting to feel like you have to take this one job just because it was offered to you, it’s important that you consider all factors of your potential job before agreeing to the terms.
But, when you finally have an actual job offer in your hands, your mind is probably already brimming with all of the possibilities. So, it can be difficult to know what to look for in order to protect yourself and your future from a toxic or dangerous environment. To make sure that you’ve fully considered this prospective offer before you sign on the dotted line, double check your job offer for the following criteria.
Job description that fits your skills and past experience
One of the most obvious things that you should look for in your potential position is that it actually fits with your talents and abilities. Even if you’ve been unemployed for a while, don’t purposely place yourself into a position where you will be underemployed (or overemployed). Instead, check to make sure that you can fulfill the job requirements, while still being challenged by some aspect of the position.
Your new position should include a myriad of tasks that you know you’re good at, to ensure that you aren’t being overemployed. However, it should also include at least one aspect that will stretch you to improve yourself or that will challenge you intellectually. This is to ensure that you aren’t being underemployed. Your potential position should encourage and allow you to grow professionally, so that you are constantly learning and improving in your field. Think of it this way: you should be even more employable and qualified after one year in your potential position. If you can’t say that this will be the case, then there is a strong possibility that your potential position is an underemployment for your capabilities.
Supportive and liveable work environment
If you’ve only spoken with your potential supervisor, or with upper management of your potential company, then you likely don’t have much of a feel for the company culture you could be walking into. Although many people overlook company atmosphere when they’re considering a new job, it’s an incredibly important factor in your job satisfaction. If you enjoy the people that you work with, and you feel encouraged and secure in your work, then you’re much more likely to be overall satisfied with your job. If, on the other hand, your company’s culture is toxic or abusive, you’re unlikely to enjoy your job no matter how good of a fit you are for the actual tasks.
During the interviewing process, or even after you’ve received an offer, try to request to tour the area where you would be working. Take a close look at the attitudes of the people you meet, and pay special attention to the vibes that you’re feeling from the space. Although feeling for “vibes” may seem like an unreliable way to gauge the atmosphere, it’s often your best bet at telling whether or not you’d be happy working somewhere.
Comprehensive insurance and workers’ compensation
On a more logistic note, read your offer carefully to ensure that your potential company offers you sufficient health insurance and workers’ compensation, if applicable. This point is incredibly important. Although it may seem more straightforward to take someone at their word when they say that the company will take care of you, you have to do your best to protect yourself. In the case of any injury or illness — particularly when it is work-related — all companies will seek to protect their own interests. In many cases, this may mean protecting their own interests at the expense of their employees’ interests. Of course, you hope that you will never be put in a situation like that. But, it may sometimes be out of your control.
Your best bet, then, is to make sure that you will be protected and cared for even in the case of an accident, injury, or illness. Read carefully through the details of the insurance coverage and the workers’ compensation that your potential company offers, and keep an eye out for any red flags that the company may not take care of you when you need it the most.
Sufficient vacation and personal leave time
While you’re checking the insurance and compensation policies of your potential company, also make time to review the vacation and personal leave policies. Your vacation time should be sufficient to make you feel that you can take a break every year, and to allow you to visit with any friends and family that live far away.
Although you may have already thought to check the vacation policy — after all, who doesn’t love vacation time — make sure that you also check the personal leave/sick time policy. You may not plan on being sick at all during your new job, but no one ever plans to be sick, or to have other personal emergencies arise. Unfortunately, these situations can’t always be avoided, and you’ll need a company that’s flexible enough to make room for inevitable circumstances.
Even though your job offer is certainly reason to get excited, take time for practical considerations as well. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be excited, just that your excitement for a new position shouldn’t outweigh your consideration of your needs and your future happiness. Take careful account of the details of your job offer. If possible, have someone you trust review the offer with you, so that you can be sure that your perspective isn’t skewed by your enthusiasm for the position.
And ultimately, remember that you will find a position that makes logistic sense, and that you’re excited for. When you do, you’ll know it.