You’ve submitted countless cover letters, gone on numerous job interviews, and now you finally have an offer. It can be tempting to jump on the first opportunity that comes your way, particularly if you’re unemployed or miserable at work. But if you already have a job, you should consider the offer carefully—and make sure that you’re not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you sign your next job contract:
1. WHAT ARE MY PROFESSIONAL—AND PERSONAL—OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH HERE?
During any job interview it’s important to ask what the path forward looks like for the position. Does the position offer possibilities for advancement, or will you be stuck on the same rung indefinitely? Are there opportunities to lead or manage? What’s been the career trajectory for the people who previously held the position?
Some people don’t want positions that lead to management opportunities or advancement—and that’s okay. But if you want your responsibilities to evolve over time, it’s worth asking yourself about the doors the job may—or may not—open at the outset.
2. AM I A GOOD FIT FOR THE COMPANY CULTURE?
If you’re used to a startup environment with an open office plan and a casual dress code, it may be difficult to transition into a corporate office with cubicles and suits. On the flip side, you might prefer a structured, buttoned-up approach to work.
It’s also a good idea to evaluate the personality of your future manager. How do you envision them treating more junior staffers? How would they give feedback and reviews? Some companies have more direct, structured performance review processes, while others opt for a looser approach. It’s always important to consider what kind of relationships you want to have with your co-workers, and whether the company’s environment seems aligned with your expectations and priorities.
3. WHAT DOES THE BONUS AND BENEFITS STRUCTURE LOOK LIKE?
Some studies have indicated that employee benefits are more important to workplace happiness than salary. If free lunch or dinner in the office every day matters to you, you should check if the new company offers it. Do they offer personal days and sick days as well as vacation time?
It’s also smart to take a look at the company’s retirement plans. Do they offer stock benefits? How well do they match 401(k) contributions? If you have to relocate, will they pay the moving expenses? While your salary may go up marginally by taking this new job, your raise could be eclipsed by a reduction in benefits and additional compensation.
4. IS THERE A NON-COMPETE CLAUSE?
A non-compete clause (NCC) or a covenant not to compete (CNC) is an agreement that prohibits an employee from entering into a similar profession until their job contract expires. These clauses can be restrictive and have long term limits. If you’re entering a job that you can’t leave for two years, it’s important to make sure that you really, really want to work there—or you may end up stuck in a bad office or location.
5. WHAT ARE THEIR POLICIES AROUND WORK-LIFE BALANCE—AND WHAT’S THE REALITY?
Some companies tout flexible, work-from-home policies—but can you really work remotely without it affecting your compensation or opportunities for promotion? And when they say the expectation is 9-5, does that mean the expectation is leave at 5 and work at home through dinner? Will you be expected to work weekends?
It’s wise to consider what your hourly compensation will be compared to your current position. If your salary goes up considerably but you’re expected to work 60-hour work-weeks, it may not be worth switching jobs.
6. AM I RUNNING TOWARDS AN OPPORTUNITY OR JUST RUNNING AWAY?
If you’re experiencing intense work-related stress, conflicts with your manager, or extreme boredom at your current job, it’s probably worth taking a new position. But if your current position is just OK—or if you still feel like you have something to learn—you should think about whether the job offer is really a better opportunity than your current job, as it takes a long time to build a reputation and goodwill within a company.
It’s worth considering if you’re actually excited and enthused about a new opportunity—or if you’re just trying to escape a mundane workplace. If you’re not sufficiently enthused about the new position, don’t accept the offer, because you could end up stuck in an even worse situation for over a year. Life is too short to go to work every day feeling unfulfilled—so don’t accept a job offer if you know it won’t satisfy you.