3 questions to ask yourself about a new job offer

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The offer letter hits your email or your desk. Panic washes over you. You sit for a moment and hope that the grass will truly be greener on the other side of the fence and that the new job will more than deliver on all the things you want to get out of it.

For many of us, deciding to leave an old job and moving on to a new one can be terrifying. Despite doing the homework on the company, many times you’re still walking into a lot of unknowns. What can look good on paper can be a pain in real life.

While we’ve covered the topic of things to consider when looking for a new job, I wanted to break it down a bit more on the specific things to think about when deciding whether to accept the offer, begin negotiating or stick it out in your current position.

Let’s assume that if you’ve gone through the hoops of looking for a new job, applying and going on interviews, you’re not terribly happy where you currently work. But sometimes restlessness can lead to reckless abandon when your job-search strategy is based on “Get me the hell out of here” versus true career advancement.

For some people, accepting the offer is a no-brainer. But these three questions can help you logically and unemotionally evaluate the position:

1. Does this advance my skills/knowledge?

The new position you’ve just been offered is great. But it’s a lateral move — same money, similar benefits, similar position with nearly identical responsibilities and tasks. Often we’re so blinded by just wanting to leave a place that we don’t see we’re accepting the same role we currently have. In some cases, just looking for a clean slate in perhaps a different industry or work environment is acceptable, but be careful about starting a pattern of job-hopping when you get restless.

If you’re not moving up or advancing in some way, is the job worth taking? Think about it — learning new company nuances, having to earn your way into every meeting and project all over again. Some get excited about the promise of starting fresh, but if you have invested years in your current job and find yourself bored, I suggest you start thinking about what you can do at your current company and presenting projects you care about to your boss or senior leadership. By taking control of the situation, you’ll be more invested in the outcome. And let’s face it — it feels good when other people start recognizing your initiative and great ideas.

If you want to get out of a bad work environment, don’t just abandon the time you’ve invested in a current position. If you’ve been there two or three years or more, consider exploring internal opportunities if you just want to move laterally.

2. Will this match my current lifestyle?

Once you address whether the new job would advance your skills, often the next step is seeing if you’ll get a significant pay increase or a better title. When those factors come into play, you need to consider what the unwritten agreement is in accepting the offer. Chances are if you’re ready to move up in your career, you know that you’ll be dedicating more time toward your job. That means your hours may extend beyond the typical eight-hour workday.

If you roll up into management, you become an agent of the company and are therefore more accountable and responsible for your actions and the actions of your team, assuming you oversee individuals. If you’re used to just being responsible for yourself and being a rock star, the transition to management may be more challenging and something you’ll have to work at to succeed.

In some instances, the offered salary may be less than what you make now. You’ll need to weigh whether that will affect your bills, groceries, transit, etc. It’s also important to consider whether the new position will affect your overall commute: Is the job farther away? Do you have to pay for parking? Will you have to travel more, and what implications would that have for your family and personal relationships?

There are many things to consider, and it comes down to a personal choice of what small sacrifices you’ll accept in order to advance in your career.

3. Does this fit my long-term career path?

If the position does offer advancement opportunities and is a match for your lifestyle, the last thing to consider is how this role fits into your overall career path. The reason I bring up this point is because sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees. If your goal is to get into information technology and be the chief information officer of a company, then make sure the offer on the table can be a steppingstone to achieving this goal. If you are taking a job that’s partially IT and partially customer service, understand how that will affect your career goals and whether it’s worth tackling.

As in point No. 1, sometimes it’s best to stay in your current job but make it better. Have a talk with your manager and bring a list of ideas and projects that you want to work on that extend beyond your role. If you’re passionate about your career, you’ll do the work upfront with the knowledge that it’s going to pay off later, versus trying to find a better-paying job today that may lead you astray from your career goals.

This is always a good question to end with, because it makes you come back to the question of, “What is my career path?” By asking yourself this, you’ll have more control over your career decisions during each and every job.

Check out these other articles about moving on to the next job:
Top 5 things to consider when looking for a new job
What to consider before returning to an old job
Should you accept a job offer you don’t want?

5 Comments
  1. A recruiter can tell you there’s room for advancement but he/she can’t predict the future. They don’t even know how long they will have their job. Nowadays the candidate has to look at every job as temporary. Do your best while your there and keep evidence of your accomplishments.

    • True, but it’s also up to the employee to stay on top of how their role can and should evolve in order to stay valuable to the company.

  2. I posted my updated resume on Tuesday, got a call the VERY NEXT DAY! Went to interview, very encouraging in the interview, felt my chances were very good UNTIL I filled out the application and saw the question “Have you ever been fired?” and my heart sank. I was fired from a job after 24 years 6 months after our company was bought out and a new manager came in,, I was warned the new manager wanted my slot for a friend and was looking for a reason to get me out but didn’t really deep inside think it would happen. Then I made a stupid mistake by not reporting another employee and was held responsible since he was working under me- he quit before they could fire him but I got the bad advice to let them fire me so I would be able to get unemployment (not true-here, anyway) but now I don’t know how to respond. If I tell the truth I won’t get hired but if I lie and am found out (it’s a small world; someone would know) I get fired again for cause this time. I work in an “at-will state” Help! What do I do? Can they even ask this?

    • Before you jump the gun, the application only asked if you were ever fired. Let’s be realistic – most people can answer that question “yes” these days. The thing is to not tell the story as above, which sounds very finger-pointing in that many things weren’t your fault. I would leave it that the company was bought out, a new manager came in and there was conflict there. I’d leave it at that. The more you go on and on about it, the more defensive you become. You don’t have to offer up any information until the interview and you’re able to control this story and how it’s told. I’d position it as what you learned and what you plan to do from that experience moving forward.

  3. I had a great interview this past Friday.  It was a case manager position for meals on Wheels program.  I already had practice my answers and research the company.  Me and interviewer laugh a bit so I felt it went well before I left the interview I mention that I am familiar with Meals on Wheels and feel comfortable with this position.  From there she said okay give me an application to fill out and also a background form to complete and briefly showed me around.  She also asked do I need a pen and I said no that I had one.  I filled out the application and got  to the question what salary is expected.  So I put open because I didn’t know what to put.  When I return to her office she asked if I had further questions and I mention that I put open by salary because I didn’t know what to put.  So she mention well let me tell you it is $13.50 hr.  She said I still am in the interviewing process and will make a decision the end of the month.  Today, I went online and saw the figure under a certain job website of how much it will be for the position I just interviewed for.  I wondering if I ruined my chances.  Any thoughts?

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