The hunt for a job can be stressful, so it is a relief when an offer comes in. It's easy to want to accept it right away, especially if you've been out of work. But accepting a job is a big decision — one worthy of some careful consideration and self-reflection before signing on the dotted line.
"Before you decide to commit the rest of your life to a job that will occupy most of your waking hours, invest a little quiet thought in the opportunity and its potential to affect your life," Darrell Gurney, a career coach and founder of Career Guy, said in a recent blog post on TheLadders.
Your chosen profession should fulfill more than just your checking account. While paying the bills and having some fun money is the most obvious goal in having a job, considerations such as personal satisfaction, feeling like a contributor and being valued also come into play. To determine if a position is a good fit for you personally and professionally, here are some questions you can ask yourself. [Career Confusion? 9 Tips for Choosing Between Job Offers]
Will it offer me good career development opportunities? If you are interested in furthering yourself in your career in this profession, the ideal company will be excited to help you accomplish those goals in the form of ongoing education, conferences and other opportunities.
"Take a look at the different responsibilities you'd have and opportunities for learning," Heather Huhman, a career and workplace expert, wrote in a Glassdoor blog post. "Will the position require you to learn a skill or program? Will you have the opportunity to attend workshops or conferences? Sometimes, these types of learning opportunities turn into perks that could have a positive impact on your career."
Are there any benefits I can't get elsewhere? Beyond your salary, vacation and sick day package, and retirement options, does the company offer other, unique benefits that would appeal to you? Perhaps the organization has legal insurance, a bonus program, employee reward program or other benefit that demonstrates how much company values its employees.
"Remember, you are bringing value to the table, and so you should never feel lower or disadvantaged," said Erik Bowitz, senior resume expert at Resume Genius.
Does this job offer seem interesting or challenging? When you are engaged in your work, the work seems less like a job. Being happy about going into the office is an important part of every day. If you are already dreading going there on your first day, it's not likely to get any better.
Does this position further you in your career or help you achieve a goal? Although you should always be working toward your career goals, there will be times when you need to take a particular job in order to achieve that next goal, Huhman said. Every type of experience you gain gives you the opportunity to shape your career path. If this is not your dream job, you should make sure that, if you were to accept, it would at least serve as a steppingstone for you.
"Level with yourself up front, Gurney said. "Ideally, you can find something redeeming and useful in the work, even if it's only to buy you some freedom to keep your 'dream job' search on track."
Will I have to sacrifice any of my goals if I take the job? It's one thing if a job wouldn't exactly fulfill your long-term goals. It's another to actually have to give up a goal in order to accept a job. Huhman advised comparing your goals to the job offer and see where they overlap or fall short.
"One of the most important questions you should ask yourself is if you would make any serious sacrifices in your career when accepting the job offer," she wrote. "Would you need to relocate to a new city or work more hours than you'd prefer? As long as the job keeps you moving forward in your career, then maybe the offer isn't so bad after all."
Can you imagine working for this company? Huhman said that if you can see yourself working in the office and with the people, it's probably a good sign the company could be a good fit. Even if the salary isn't as high as you had hoped, you could be accepting a job offer that provides a great company culture and an overall positive experience. Remember, not every job is about making the big bucks — it should also be about finding happiness where you work.
Huhman reminded job seekers who do decide to accept the position that they shouldn't forget about negotiating.
"You can always negotiate an offer if you aren't completely satisfied," Huhman wrote. "But overall, you should weigh the costs and benefits of the position. And remember, your career goals and values should always come first."
This article was originally published in 2014 and was updated Feb. 2, 2016. Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.