6 Questions to Ask Before You Accept a Job Offer

iStock
iStock

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.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.