If you’re on the job hunt and you’ve played your cards right, then perhaps you’ve found yourself in the following scenario: you’ve successfully made it through a series of interviews, waited patiently, been contacted by a hiring manager or HR representative, and been made a job offer. Often, this is absolutely fantastic news—the end result of a challenging job hunting process filled with ups and downs, excitement and disappointment. Now, after a long journey, you’re faced with an offer for what could be the next great opportunity along your career path.
But hold on for a second—are you absolutely certain that this job offer is the right one for you?
Most people fall into one of two camps when making a decision about a job offer. On one hand are the impulsive deciders, those who blindly and quickly latch on to the first available offer made to them. While it can be good to show that you’re eager and enthusiastic, there are some very good reasons for deciding to slow things down a bit and take some time to weigh a job offer before accepting it. After all, accepting an offer that may not completely align with your best interests may actually set your career trajectory back, and it may be difficult to make up any lost ground—either in salary or job title. Furthermore, if you do quickly take an offer that you come to regret later, you may be sowing the seeds for a passive-aggressive workplace attitude down the road.
On the other hand are the overthinkers—those who spend way too much time and effort weighing and overweighing every small detail of the offer in an attempt to reach a clear and decisive decision about whether or not to accept. These folks can count on a few restless days and sleepless nights as they struggle to reach some decision. And in the end, the exhaustion and worry that these people generate make it hard for them to feel good about whatever decision they reach. That's not a good recipe for happiness either.
There is a middle ground between making an impulsive decision and overthinking a job offer, and for most folks it’s right where they should be when trying to decide about whether to accept a job offer. Thankfully, there are some strategies you can take advantage of to help you negotiate your next job offer. Envato recently published an article highlighting the key questions you should ask—either yourself or someone at the company—before accepting a job offer. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.
Questions to ask yourself
What are my non-negotiables? When we’re looking for our next job opportunity, most of us have at least a vague, and possibly a concrete, sense of what we’re willing to be flexible about and what are deal breakers. This will vary by individual, based on one’s specific needs and goals. You should have a set of non-negotiables in mind when you’re on the job hunt to help you to determine if a job offer is right for you or if some additional negotiation is required.
Am I happy with the salary offer? This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people, either out of desperation or overeagerness, quickly accept the first offer made to them, even if it’s below what they were hoping to make—and once this happens it can take a long time to make up any lost financial ground. The truth is, most offers are within a flexible salary range and there is often some room for additional negotiation, especially if they really want you on their team. Just remember not to be too aggressive here or you could wind up talking yourself out of an offer completely.
Is the company reputable and stable? The last thing you want to have happen is to jump onto a sinking ship. Even if the offer is great, what good is it if the company implodes before you can really reap any benefits? Before you agree to accept an offer, do your homework and make sure that the company has a good reputation in its industry and seems stable for the foreseeable future. There are even websites available for you to learn about what other employees thought about the company while they were there. The more information you have at your disposal, the more informed your decision will be, which is always a good move.
Can I see myself getting along with my future colleagues and bosses? This one’s a bit tougher, as you’ll never truly know the answer until you start working there, but do your best to use interviews and office visit to get a sense of what it might be like to work there. Does there seem to be a friendly and collaborative vibe with good energy, or does something less positive and productive seem to be in the air? If possible, engage with whoever you run across or are introduced to and see if they seem like the sort of people you’d click well with. For most folks, this matters a lot—and could be the difference between a quick unhappy job hop and a satisfying and extended stay.
Questions to ask an HR representative or hiring manager
When do you need my decision? If you want to make the most of your time to weigh a job offer fully, it helps to know how much time you have to decide. Politely asking this question will help you know what timeframe you’re working with, and then you can go from there.
What benefits are being offered? In addition to basic information such as salary—which is typically provided upon receiving an offer—knowing what else is included in the offer (i.e., vacation time, retirement savings, insurance coverage, gym membership, etc.) will help you to weigh the full offer and determine if any additional points need negotiating.
What will my everyday responsibilities look like? Hopefully, you have a clear answer to this question after interviewing, but if you don’t its okay to ask for a little more detail before accepting an offer. Remember, accepting a new job is a major life commitment, so it stands to reason that you’ll want to know all the parameters of the deal so you can choose wisely, including what your average work day will be like—especially if some of these details are on your non-negotiable list.
Consider asking these questions when you’re weighing your next job offer and before you accept—because once you do, you may be closing the door on any further negotiating. Choose wisely and good luck!