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?