As graduation looms, the class of 2014, along with myself, have been anxiously awaiting that “first job” offer. When that offer letter finally arrives, however, the stress and anxiety sets in. You ask yourself, “Is this the right decision?” Or, “Will I be happy at this company?” A whole series of questions and emotions will overcome you as you set out to make this life-changing decision.
In a recent article, Heather Huhman, a Gen Y Career Expert, outlined some tips for considering your first job offer.
If you’ve recently received a job offer or are anticipating one, these are great things to keep in mind:
1. Determine whether the job fulfills your immediate needs.
Before accepting any offer, make sure it fulfills your immediate needs. To determine whether the position is a good fit, ask yourself questions such as “Why should I accept this job offer?” or “Does the job meet my career goals?”
To help your decision, make a list of your personal and professional needs. Outline everything you desire out of your first job — from the type of lifestyle to specific benefits/perks to your goals, and everything in between.
2. Find out as much as you can about your potential boss.
A huge determinant of whether you’ll like your first job depends on your boss. This is why it’s a good idea to learn about your potential boss before accepting the job offer.
Make a list of qualities you look for in a boss. These can be characteristics ranging from management styles to personal values. Do I prefer a supervisor who values flexibility? Do I want to avoid bosses who micromanage? Asking yourself these types of questions can get you thinking about the type of person for whom you want to work.
After creating a list of what you’re looking for in a boss, research what the boss at this potential position is like. If the qualities aren’t lining up (especially the most important ones), this could be a red flag.
3. Consider the big picture.
What do you want to accomplish in the upcoming year? Where do you see yourself five years down the road? As you look at the big picture and what you want to accomplish, determine if this position will help you get there.
For example, if you picture yourself moving up in a company, you’ll want to make sure the company provides opportunities for growth — and approximately how long it should take you to reach each stage.
4. Make sure every detail is crystal clear.
As you review your job offer, make sure every detail is clearly outlined in writing. (An offer isn’t an offer unless it’s in writing.) Ensure you are promised everything the employer told you during the interview. If something is unclear to you, ask the employer for clarification.
The job offer should clearly outline details regarding your schedule, compensation, and various benefits, including vacation and healthcare plans. You should also look out for extras such as contracts or buy outs. Some employers want to lock in their new hires for a specific period of time. If that’s something you’re not interested in, definitely reconsider the offer.
5. Don’t make your decision on the spot.
Although you deserve some time to think, most employers give candidates 24-48 hours to make a decision. In other words, you should be prepared to make a decision fairly quickly or risk losing the offer altogether.
If you feel like you’re struggling with your decision, ask the employer if they can give you an extra day or two to decide. This would give you more time to weigh your options and talk to a friend or mentor to help you make an informed decision.
As you continue to think about your first job offer, make sure you’re aware of your needs, as well as any warning signs. Every offer should be in writing and clearly explain the agreement. Accepting your first job is a huge milestone, and you want to make sure you make the best decision for your career.
What tips do you have for accepting your first job offer?