Scoring an offer means you’ve made it through the toughest part of the job hunt. All the applications, research, and thank-you notes have paid off—congrats!
But not all the stress is over just yet. Now comes an important decision: whether or not to accept the position. How do you know if it’s the right job for you? Or, what if you have to choose between two appealing offers?
Weighing the dozens of pros and cons can easily be overwhelming, so here are the most important factors to keep in mind when you’re making that oh-so-important decision.
1. The People
No, my number one consideration is not the money—it’s the people. Your boss, your team, and the co-workers that will surround you everyday are crucial for your happiness and success at a job. Sure, it’s hard to judge people after only meeting them briefly, but think about how they treated you during the interview process. Were they friendly? Did they ask personal questions as well as professional ones? Did they call you back in a timely manner?
The answers to these questions may reflect how your co-workers and superiors will treat you as an employee. I recently interviewed with a company who didn’t call me back for several weeks after our five-minute speed-interview. When I finally got the return call, we proceeded with a 10-minute interview, and then they made me an offer. Is someone who’s ready to hire you after 15 minutes really considering how well you’ll fit into the team? Probably not.
2. The Environment
Weigh the pros and cons of working for a corporation, an agency, a non-profit, or a startup. They’re very, very different environments, and it’s important to decide which you’d thrive in. If you’re more of an individual worker who likes structure and competition, the corporate path may be for you. If you want a fast-paced environment that’s new every day, an agency or startup may be a good choice.
The physical location is also important to consider. A long commute or lack of lunch options may pull down your everyday attitude. Nothing is worse than going to a miserable work environment every morning—and even worse, taking that unhappiness home with you, too.
3. The Benefits
Having a great benefits package is important for more than the obvious reasons. If a company offers its employees perks like health, dental, retirement, and flexible spending plans, it can mean they’re competitive and doing well financially. If a place doesn’t offer benefits package, it might just be because they’re small, but it could also imply that they’re struggling as a company.
Even if benefits aren’t overly important to you, working for a company without them is something to carefully consider. Been there, done that, and in my experience, it didn’t point to company success.
4. The Stability
A lot of organizations are able to impress with their past work or current profits, but take some time to do research on the company’s recent success and hiring activities. Has it been operating steadily during this crazy economic climate? If so, you’re likely looking at a pretty stable job. If not, be careful: you could be walking into a hazardous environment and a job that could be gone within a year.
5. The Money
When looking at a job offer, or comparing two, often the most tempting thing to do is to go for the money, but that’s not necessarily the right approach. Take it from me—I’ve taken a job for the money and hated it, and taken a massive pay cut to work somewhere I love. I’ve learned that salary is only a small part of my happiness at work.
Consider what salary you could live with, as well as the amount that would make a job offer irresistible, and keep those numbers in mind (and of course, negotiate!). Think more about potential of the whole package and less about the numbers on your monthly paycheck.
6. Your Gut
Finally, after you’ve weighed the important factors, take time to listen to what your gut is telling you. People often say when they’re buying a house, “when you walk into the one, you’ll feel it.” Same advice here: if you walk out of an interview and everything feels right (or wrong), pay attention to that feeling.