Before you start a job, you need to decide whether to accept a job offer. And over the course of your career, some will be no-brainers; others will be a little trickier.
Take these scenarios.
- You get an offer that’s a little lower than you expected—even after negotiating with the hiring .
- You’re juggling competing job offers with very different companies
- A company you’re less interested in offers a better package than a company where you’d really love to work
Here’s the thing: There’s a middle ground people often don’t talk about. And it’s about time we explored it.
Here are four things to consider before you sign an offer letter.
1. Company Mission
Think about the reasons you’re excited to accept a job. Will they be just as exciting a year or two down the road?
It’s easy to get caught up in things like an unlimited vacation policy or epic company outings. After all, those are amazing perks—when paired with a company mission that makes you proud of what you do.
Ultimately, knowing you’re doing work that makes an impact—both within your company and beyond it—will keep you fulfilled as you build a career. For Erica Hirsch, a Senior Director at Thermo Fisher’s Business Segment, she’s found that at Thermo Fisher. “From my desk in Silicon Valley, I’m fighting to stop counterfeit drugs in Africa,” she says.
“The work I do at Thermo Fisher Scientific involves technology that helps professionals in the field quickly and accurately confirm that a pharmaceutical is what it says it is. In Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa, our handheld products are invaluable tools that agencies use to stop the growing problem of counterfeit anti-malaria drugs. Our work has played a part in significantly reducing counterfeit drugs throughout the region.”
2. Your Co-workers
Assuming you work eight-hour days, you’ll be spending 2,080 hours a year with your co-workers (minus holidays and vacation days, of course). In other words, you’ll want to choose them wisely. We know. You can’t learn everything about your co-workers from an interview. But you can probably learn more than you think. Find out as much as you can by asking questions about the team dynamic and company culture. Do your best to figure out if it’s a collaborative environment, and don’t be afraid to be direct.
When it’s over, take stock of your experience. Did you share a laugh during your interview? Were they genuinely curious about your past experience? Did you feel less like you were answering questions and more like you were having a conversation? These are all signs you might’ve struck co-worker gold.
3. Opportunities For Growth
We’re talking the personal and the professional kind here. Not sure what to look for? Consider whether the company makes training a top priority—not just during your first few weeks, but throughout your career.
Will you have a chance to learn new skills outside your job description or work with other departments? Some companies also have formalized mentorship programs to pair more tenured employees with new hires. Both of these can help you acquire a mix of hard and soft skills that’ll prove valuable for the rest of your career.
It’s also important to consider job mobility. Companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific offer rotational programs for recent grads to explore several different areas (and locations) over the course of a few years. Some of these opportunities were probably evident during your interview. But if you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager questions that will help you decide.
4. The Actual Job Description
This one sounds like a no-brainer. But it’s easy to focus so much on an impressive salary you lose sight of what you’ll actually be doing. So, before you make a decision, go back and read the full job description again. If you’re deciding between two offers, read both of them side-by-side.
Ask yourself: If the salary were the same for both jobs, which would I choose? Getting paid more to do work that doesn’t align with your career goals might not be worth a marginal salary difference. Plus, if you’ll be working steadily toward a higher-paying job, that lower paycheck might be more temporary than you think. It’s always helpful to ask about career growth opportunities before making a final decision.
They say money isn’t everything, and it’s true. So, what do you do if you get an offer that’s on par with the industry average for your role and location—but maybe a little lower than you had in mind? Well, counter-intuitive as it may seem, sometimes the best option is to take the lower offer.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should do so every time. After all, everyone’s financial needs are different. We’re also not advocating for you to accept a salary that doesn’t seem fair based on your qualifications and cost of living. What we ARE saying is, you should take these things into account, give it some thought, and then see where you net out. Who knows? You might be surprised where this process takes you.